Those who have seen Jon MacNair’s work might be surprised to learn that he is greatly inspired by popular children’s literature, fairytales, and Renaissance art. The Portland based artist is well known for his fantastical, quirky ink drawings, often labeled as “dark”, and we don’t mean his monochromatic palette. “Some of my most distinct memories as a kid were of looking at picture books and being entranced by the images,” he says. “Even though most of these books were for kids, there were some pretty dark undertones in the illustrations that stuck with me.” These eventually led to his current body of work which turns classically ominous imagery on its head.
Victorian art and literature is characterized by Romantic poetry and Gothic horror. London-based artist Dan Hillian plays with these tensions to create contemporary ink drawings and Photoshop collages animated by fantastical landscapes and uncanny events, all connected by exacting geometries. In an interview with Creative-Mapping, Hillian discusses his desire to “transport people to somewhere a little bit mysterious.” This, he certainly achieves, with exploding shapes that radiate out from a central figure. The protagonists of Hillian’s images approach the supernatural, especially those that seem to morph into plants and animals before the viewer’s eye. However, the transitions are also clues to the figures’ personalities, fears and desires.
Mattias Adolfsson is an artist and illustrator working from his studio in Sigtuna, Sweden, just outside of the capital city of Stockholm. His path to being an illustrator took several turns, beginning with his interest in Mathematics and Architecture in his university days – eventually finding his rhythm as an illustrator after years of work doing 3D animations for the game industry. Infused thoroughly with a wonderful sense of humor and whimsy, Adolfsson’s work is a combination of hand-rendered ink drawings with watercolor accents that he meticulously produces in his sketchbooks. Adolfsson’s latest book, The Second In Line, has garnered the artist the prestigious Most Beautiful Swedish Book award by the Swedish Bonkkonst.
Canadian artist Jamiyla Lowe has conjured a topsy turvy world of bizarre creatures. Her ink illustrations recall Dr. Seuss characters with attitude, using a handful of bright colors like yellow, red and green, or monochromatic black and white. They are rounded and somewhat droopy, even when representing real animals, and almost always with a white background. Most of the images here are from her new series, “Beware of the Beast” for Narwhal Art Projects in Toronto.