Thanks Untitled Mag for the interest in my work :)
Give us a little introduction about who you are for those who don't know you.
My name is Jon MacNair and I was born in South Korea, but grew up in Southeastern Michigan. I always loved drawing and doing weird projects as a kid (painting rocks and making paper mache death masks of Tutankhamen). I took little art classes here and there at our local art center growing up, and then took lots of art electives in high school. After that, I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where I decided to pursue Illustration as a major. I stuck around Baltimore for 4 years after graduation, just trying to get my art career off the ground, before moving back to Michigan for 3 years. During that time, I participated in a lot of exhibitions (although none in Michigan) and focused a lot on my fine art and illustration. In 2012 I moved across country.
Where do you live now?
Do you usually get in touch with other artists in town?
I was acquainted with quite a few artists before I moved here, so I don't feel like a complete stranger. And I've met some really nice and talented artists this year through art openings and other events. I'm always open to meeting other artists.
How often do you go to art exhibitions in Portland?
Pretty much at least twice a month. I go to the "First Thursday" and "Last Thursday" art openings. There's always something to see and I inevitably bump into people I know.
Are you working in any projects right now?
I have quite a few shows to prepare for that will keep me busy through the New Year. Also, I have a commission to do and some pending collaborations.
Were there any artists in your family before you, or are you the only one?
I would say that I'm the only one, although I think my dad has a cousin who is an illustrator, although I've never met him. Most of my relatives are teachers, engineers, or in some kind of medical field. I'm always jealous of people who have artist parents or siblings.
Who inspired you the most, to become the artists you are nowadays?
I wouldn't say it was any one person. It wasn't really the type of situation where I saw a particular artist and thought to myself "I want to do that". It was more just the fact that when I made art or created something, I enjoyed the feeling it gave me while doing it. So I guess it was really that I was pursuing a feeling, rather than aspiring to be like a certain person.
What do you think was the key to your success?
I think success is both relative and cumulative. It takes time and is also very subjective. I continuously worked at my art and tried to improve at it. But if I didn't enjoy doing it in the first place, I would never have gone to the effort to do so. In the beginning, I just tried to have my work seen by people. The internet was very helpful in achieving this. But I think ultimately, you have to just continue to work at your art and not be too timid about showing it to people or caring what others might think of it. If you are creating great work, no one will ever see it if you're just hoarding it all in your studio.
Which was the best experience your job ever gave you?
It's always rewarding to meet people who tell me that my work speaks to them in some way, or that they feel some kind of strong connection to it.
Why is it that most of your illustrations are in black and white?
I started out using India ink when I began to develop my current style. So the black and white was just a limitation of the media. Now it's a stylistic choice, and I enjoy using both a brush and pen to make my works. It also seems to suit the mood and tone of my works.
In your works you create scenarios of fantasy and mystery. Where do you get the inspiration to create them?
I love Gothic, Medieval and Renaissance art, as well as surrealism, symbolism and German Expressionism. I'm inspired by ancient civilizations, tales of myth and magic, and Russian animation.
Is it hard for you to describe or express your creations to other people?
For sure. People ask me all the time "What kind of art do you do?". I try to carry postcards with me so I can just give them one and they can see for themselves. It's much easier than trying to explain it in words.
Does art pay the bills?
As of yet, not completely. One day...
Is there any project that you still haven't done and would like to do in the future?
I think it would be cool to have my art make an appearance in a film or tv show one day.
I know its difficult, but. are there any of your works that you would say are your favorites?
I'm kinda liking a few pieces I did recently. One is called "The Acquisition" and the other is called "Reawakened".
Why do you often draw eyes in your works?
I like the fact that eyes can be used to personify non-living things, like mountains and clouds.
Music is very important to us in Untitled Mag. What kind of music do you listen to?
I'm particularly fond of some of the following artists and composers: Elliott Smith, Fleet Foxes, Sigur Ros, Belle and Sebastian, Sufjan Stevens, Princeton, Other Lives, Sea Wolf, The Submarines, Chet Baker, Dmitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, Philip Glass.
Do you like reading? What is your connection with Edgar Allan Poe's work?
I really enjoy reading, but I usually don't have a lot of time to do so unfortunately. I've bought a lot of books that I haven't had the chance to read yet. I've actually only read a couple stories by Poe and heard a few on audiobooks. I've seen some films based on his work, like "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Pit and the Pendulum". I'd like to read more of his writings some day. It has also been suggested to me that I read some Lovecraft as well.
Do what you love and love what you do!