Not everyone can say they created the official artwork for BTS, but Ian MacDonald is an exception.
The Toronto-based illustrator, who frequently works with superhero subject matter, took a few of his stylings to give members of the 'Dynamite' act a little more flair than they already possess with his BTS: IDOL print for Sideshow Collectibles.
"As a fan, and as an artist, it was a dream come true," MacDonald tells Bandwagon exclusively. "Working on this painting and really studying and researching the performance further enhanced that fandom. It helped me to further appreciate the intricacies and the art direction in all BTS content, but especially their stage appearances and music videos."
Bandwagon caught up with MacDonald to talk about how he got his start as a visual artist, what it was like working on the BTS piece, the challenges of working in the creative industry, and more.
How did you get started as a visual artist?
I actually got started through animation. I always wanted to work in that field, but after a brief stint working in Television, I realized my real passion was for illustration and painting. With animation I was a small part of a larger process, with illustration, I was responsible for the entire thing. I loved having that creative freedom.
In what ways do you level up your skills to stay sharp?
To stay sharp I try to challenge myself with new subject matter and work on material I'm not used to, or otherwise, I'll sort of stagnate too much. Projects like the BTS: IDOL print offer some awesome new challenges; especially in regards to facial likeness and composition - I can't get enough of those types of challenges!
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How do you get started on a project? What inspires you for a piece?
I do loose sketches and rough illustration first to get started, not worrying too much about what it looks like but illustrating to get something down on the page. After that there's tons of iteration and problem solving to get a final look. I'm always inspired by my contemporaries, my friends, or the subject matter itself. In the case of the BTS: IDOL project, I'm a huge fan of the group, especially of their visual styles, and their 2018 performance had such a rich color palette I wanted to represent in the final piece.
What are the challenges you've faced working in the creative industry?
The biggest challenge is getting started on an intimidating blank white page or canvas! The starting line is the most difficult for sure, but once I get going it gets easier. Likeness is very difficult too, one millimeter off could throw the entire face off, the human eye is extremely good at discerning face likeness!
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Your work on the BTS art print is quite different from the contents of your portfolio. How was that experience like?
I loved working on the BTS: IDOL print because it was so different from the rest of my portfolio in terms of content. Since I work on a lot of superhero subject matter, it was fun to incorporate some of those stylings in a piece with the members of BTS. I wanted to try and give a unique perspective on the group. As a fan it was an incredible experience working on a piece like this. I feel so lucky!
What's it like working on something like this both as a fan and as an artist?
As a fan, and as an artist it was a dream come true. Working on this painting and really studying and researching the performance further enhanced that fandom. It helped me to further appreciate the intricacies and the art direction in all BTS content, but especially their stage appearances and music videos. Not to mention their performances as well, everything comes together cohesively into an amazing visual and auditory package. All so inspiring to me!
How did you get into BTS? What's your fave song from them??
I first got into BTS from my friend, Parker, who got into the fandom with his wife. BTS hooked me from the very start. I'm a big fan of “Boy with Luv” as a song, but “Dynamite” and “Black Swan” are my favorite videos, especially for the aesthetics.
What kind of music do you listen to? Do you tend to listen to music when working on your pieces?
I listen to a little bit of everything! As long as it's catchy then I'm all in.
In the early stages of design, where much more thinking and problem-solving is required, I usually work in silence. Once that stage is over though, I'm always listening to something!
I listened almost exclusively to BTS while working on the print.
What else would you like to work on in the future?
I'd love to work on something for BTS again if I ever get the opportunity. Any challenging subject matter. I love trying out new things, and it's so rewarding seeing the response from all of the different fandoms when the art is released!
The BTS: IDOL Fine Art Print by Ian MacDonald is available for pre-order now via Sideshow