Iain Macarthur ‘s illustrations have found their way onto Empty Kingdom two times, in March 2011 and 2010. They are awesome. His lines are precise and poignant, his sketching and patterns call the eye to look and don’t let it turn away. Intricate, surreal and intense, I want to stare at a piece in real life. Check out what he has to say:
Have you always known you’d be an artist? Was there any point when you decided it wasn’t a hobby?
I started drawing from a very early ages, think I was 8 when I got into the habit of doodling constantly in school and at home. Watched a lot of cartoon shows which inspired me to doodle random stuff, at that time friends and family where complimentary about my artwork and encourage me to keep at it.
Was and still is a hobby for me, I always carry a sketchbook around with me when ever I go traveling somewhere, always do quick doodles of people on the train or in a coffee shop, I think of it as research for improving the way I draw figures and faces.
Illustration caught my eye when I enrolled in college. I knew that was the thing I wanted to do for life.
What was your favorite and most influential cartoon as a child?
Ren and Stimpy was one of my favourite childhood cartoons even though its a very random and mind bending cartoon series, but I could stop watching it. I like the humour and the drawing style of the cartoon. Made me want to draw crazy fun stuff. I also lived in hong kong for a few years as a child and some of the cartoons there caught my attention. I think thats when I first discovered the amazing studio ghibli films, especially my neighbour totoro.
Have you always created complex patterns in your work? Where did this personal flare stem from?
I came across this fun style during my last year of college back in 2007, my art teacher encourage me to try and experiment with different materials and media’s . I accidently combinded pencil with pen in some of my early work, to see if they would work well together. Tried so many experiemtns in this way but somehow never worked well for me. So I looked up textile patterns and decorative elements in the library, I was fascinated in it and tried to incorperate this into my portrait pieces. The only way I could make it work was to either draw it as jewellery or clothing accessories, but also have it merging out from parts of the faces. Like they where exploding out from the inside of there faces.
How do you decide to add color to a piece?
I don’t normally add colour to my pieces. Only when im commissioned to do a design for someone and they want colour added into it. To be honest don’t really like adding any colour into my work, I find boing black and white pieces more easy to formulate my pieces, playing around with the contrast and picking which areas to leave blank or the cover in dark detail.
With so much detail and intricacy, when do you decide a piece is done? Is a piece ever truly done?
When creating a art piece I usually do a quick rough outline sketch of lines to indicate where the patterns will flow to or where the patterns will originate and end. I improvise the patterns into the areas, I don’t really plan ahead on my pieces for some reason. I just gradually formulate the patterns from my mind and make it so it has movement and flow, so its not just a random messy pattern drawing.
What is the design process like? Are you ever at a loss of ideas when trying to fill in space? Do you find yourself searching for patterns in unexpected places?
I sometime get lost and cant figure out what type of patterns to incorporate so I sometimes browse through magazines and the internet to get some ideas. I also get ideas from my surroundings which is helpful. I once got the inspiration from looking at my parents chinese coffee table they got in hong kong, its very well crafted and has a lot of unusual shapes and carvings on it, I took some ideas from that in added it into my work.
Are there other media you are interested in venturing into? Have you experimented with other media in the past?
I’ve tried using acrylic paint and oil paint, didnt feel that comfortable using oils but acrylic paint was more easy to use and to control for me, especially on wood surface which I find smooth and better than a canvas surface. I use to paint years ago, but stopped it when I got to obsessed with pencil and pen. I might go try out acrylic painting sometime soon.
Do you think there is any truth in the idea that artistic styles are tainted when commissioned? Is your work or creativity ever affected by a client’s request?
My art style sometimes does get effected by commissions which can be annoying. When I was at college I wanted to be a contemporary artist and doing t-shirt designs wasn’t really my career ambition. But for some reason I stumbled into that line of work.
I do get burnt out a lot when working on really hard commissions for clients and there constructive criticism. But when that happens I take a break and work on my own work to relieve the stress.
Its hard work being constantly motivated and inspired.
You’ve worked for big brand names like Nike, MTV playground and Ride Snowboards, do you enjoy the work that comes from those projects? Is there a difference between that and your personal work?
Honestly find doing big brand commissions more challenging to do, commissions take time and a lot of patience , I find doing personal work more enjoyable as I have free creativity to make whatever I want. I prefer Making personal pieces.
What would an ideal client be like? Do you have a dream client in mind? How much freedom do you like having when asked to do work for someone else?
Doing commissions for clients can be sometime frustrating and challenging as your creating a design from someone own imagination instead of your own, but its worthwhile if the client and I agree on the design. My favourite commission would be to make a skateboard deck design, would love to do that sometime soon!
I read in your Behance account that you began to aspire to draw photorealistic portraits rather than cartoons, why is that? Do you feel you’ve found a good balance between photorealism and your original more anime and comic book inspired roots?
When ever Im draw photorealistic pieces I feel more comfortable and expressive doing this style as its kind of my hobby unlike when i’m doing cartoon style pieces I only draw in that style for commissioned work from clients and companies. Though I sometime like to draw cartoon stuff in my own time but really like to focus on more fine art pieces.
“>Favorite Bill Murray film, go!
Definitely Groundhog day!
Are there any events or projects you may be working on or would like to promote?
Also! I will have a new portrait piece at a group exhibition this month on 23rd called modern panic. There will be new A4 prints that ill be selling on the night as well. Details are here: http://www.facebook.com/events/432875473438131/?fref=ts