Jon MacNair

Born 1983
Seoul, South Korea

I grew up in the suburbs of southeast Michigan and from an early age, loved to draw. I also enjoyed being read to as a child and was always mesmerized by the wonderfully illustrated books my parents would present to me at bedtime. When there were no pictures to look at, my imagination would go wild trying to visualize the story. At some point drawing and imagining became an intriguing combination to me. In 2001 I decided to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art where I earned a BFA in illustration.

Currently I divide my time between doing freelance illustration work and also my fine art. I love doing both things for different reasons. The illustration work is rewarding in that you are essentially trying to find the best solution to a challenge with each assignment, and in turn hopefully meeting a client’s needs. There’s satisfaction to be had in that as well as in seeing your work and name in print. The fine art is rewarding on a more personal level. It’s an ongoing investigation of yourself that just seems to get more and more intriguing the further it progresses. I am still in what I would consider the early stages of gallery experience, having displayed work in a handful of shows across the country. It’s definitely something I want to continue to pursue and see where it leads me. The prospects are exciting.

No doubt my work is narrative in tone. I think as a trained illustrator it makes sense that my personal work also seems to want to tell a story. Sometimes I have a narrative in mind that I was to depict, but other times I just let the story unfold before me as I begin to work. Over the past couple years I have become more and more aware of the therapeutic effects my drawings seem to have on me and what kinds of things I learn about myself in the process. I like to create scenarios that play out on the paper; little vignettes that the viewer can ponder the origins of and hopefully imbue with their own personal meanings and interpretations. There is definitely a sense of darkness and mysticism that permeates my landscapes and characters. Often I place my characters in a nighttime setting. At night, nothing is what it seems; shapes shift and shadows loom, tricking the eye and making us question what is reality and what is imagined. There’s also an introspective kind of silence and solitude that occurs only at night. The harsh and dreary realities of life seem to melt away, allowing myth and magic to slowly emerge from the darkness to weave fantastical, dreamlike narratives.

As I mentioned earlier, children’s books have been an important influence in my work. Illustrators like Arthur Rackham, Lane Smith and Chris Van Allsburg are a few that come to mind. I have also found great inspiration in the art of William Blake, Max Ernst, Henri Rousseau, Hieronymus Bosch, Henry Fuseli, and Ernst Haeckel. The symbolism found in much Renaissance art and early Netherlandish painting is also of great fascination to me.

For more on Jon’s work make sure to check out these sites:
Jon MacNair Blog
Jon MacNair Flickr

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