In Other Worlds: An interview with Jon MacNair and Santiago Uceda

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We’re excited to start the year off with a special sketchXchange featuring artists, Jon MacNair and Santiago Uceda. These guys are both awesome illustrators, each with their own unique style, coming together to share a sketchbook collaboration.

The two admired each other’s work on Flickr long before they met in person at a Society6 group show here in Portland. If you have ever participated in a sketchXchange online or in person, you know how exciting it is to swap books and sometimes work off each other’s drawings to create something completely new.

Individually, both artist have a fantastical style which to me seems somewhat folkloric. Jon’s work is often monochromatic, with many layers that weave together an underlying story. Santiago’s work is colorful with hand drawn type frequently incorporated within each piece. Together they have created a series of explorations that embodies both styles.

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We hope you will join us as we get the opportunity to explore and be inspired by the magical make believe worlds of these two.

When: Friday night, January 4th

Where: The Left Bank

Registration begins Friday, December 28th at 9am

RSVP on Eventbrite

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I asked both artists a few questions about their individual work and inspiration. Check it out!

How would you describe your work?

SU

I always struggle with this question… sometimes the work feels visceral and other times it’s more conceptual, it depends on the project. It’s a combination of hand-drawn and digital, but lately I’ve been trying to work with more traditional methods. I can be more spontaneous, lines are more fluid, and there’s more room for mistakes and experimentation.

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JM

I’m not great at describing my work, but I like to use the words narrative, mythical and otherworldly.

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Where do you draw inspiration from?

SU

I love Pre-Columbian Inka masks, and catholic iconography. Mexican muralists like like Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros have been a big influence, but I’m also influenced by Ben Shahn, and while I was working on my illustration degree I really admired the work of Marshall Arisman. Outsider art has also played a role in the development of my style, when you don’t know what the rules are, it’s easier to be more creative because there’s more freedom. The places I’ve lived have also influenced my style and the subject matter that I explore with art.

JM

I’m inspired by many things, like Medieval art, botany, mythological creatures, fairy tales, ghost stories, music, ancient civilizations etc. However, some of my ideas come from things I see in everyday life. You’d be surprised how you can create a pretty elaborate concept from just a seed of an idea. Over time, I’ve established a cast of creatures/characters that reoccur in my work, and the personalities they’ve developed over time help me to come up with new scenarios to illustrate.

You’re both from other countries, does your heritage influence your designs at all?

SU

Growing up in Peru definitely influenced the way I approach image making. Being surrounded by hand-crafted objects, hand-lettering on the side of buses, political party logos painted on walls and Pre-Columbian art played an important role on the way I create images.

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JM

I’m actually adopted and came to America from South Korea when I was about 6 months old, so I’m not very influenced by the cultures of my ethnicity because I didn’t grow up immersed in them. I feel about as Americanized as one can be, but I would love to visit South Korea one day. I’m sure it would have some sort of effect on my work.

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What’s your tool of choice?

SU

Anything that helps me achieve what I’m after, for me the most effective tools are acrylic, charcoal, pencil, pen & ink, monotypes & collage. I choose the medium based on the concept or mood of the piece that I’m working on. Digital is the final step, sometimes I do most of the work on the work on the computer, but lately I’ve been trying to do it mostly with traditional tools.

JM

I use mostly pen and ink for my fine art (nibs and dip pens - and on occasion watercolors), and pen and ink and digital coloring in photoshop for my illustration work.

As an illustrator for hire do you have any words of wisdom for young inspiring designers/illustrators?

SU

I’ve made so many mistakes in my career, I could write a book on what not to do! One thing you don’t learn in school is just how hard it is to get started as an illustrator. It takes patience and persistence. My advice would be to not give up or get discouraged even when it seems like you’re getting nowhere. It takes a while for anyone to notice you’re out there, you just need to keep putting out your best work (make sure it’s your best work, have your artist friends give you honest critiques of your work) and show it to as many people as you can, not just online but in person, or postcard mailings. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, established illustrators were also aspiring young illustrators at one point, they have a lot to share, get in touch with someone that inspires you.

JM

Be patient but diligent in trying to get work. If at first you find it hard to get responses from art directors and potential clients, don’t take that to mean they aren’t interested in your work. I’ve found it can take several years for someone to hire you for the right job. Do your best not to compare yourself to others in the field. It can be a hinderance to finding your own path to personal success. And lastly, don’t give away your work for free. Clients who see something they like should be willing to give artists the compensation they deserve for their hard work.

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Santiago Uceda

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Santiago Uceda was born in Lima, Peru, and made his way to sunny So Cal. He now resides in a sleepy college town in the Pacific Northwest. He is an interactive art director, illustrator and motion graphics artist. Santiago has worked with many talented folks and institutions from global brands to non-profits, magazines, e-commerce sites, bands and private commissions. Some of his clients include: Adidas, Billabong, Portland Center Stage, TED-Ed, South Coast Repertory, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Surfing Magazine, LA Weekly, Bike Magazine, Portland Mercury. Santiago currently works as interactive design manager for Oregon State University.

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Jon MacNair

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Jon MacNair was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in the suburbs of southeast Michigan where he developed an early love for drawing. He graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art where he earned a Bachelors of Fine Art in illustration. His commercial work has been utilized by clients such as Grove, Tooth and Nail Records, Corpse Corps Boards, ON3P Skis, The Stranger and The Washington Square Review. Jon has shown his fine art in galleries across the country and abroad in Scotland and Germany.

Upcoming Shows: Jon will be showing his work at the Pony Club and Antler in the new year. He will also be participating in a massive sketchbook show at the Ashmore Gallery in Georgia, as well as the WWA Gallery in California.

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