Pop Media Examiner Katrina-Kasey Wheeler
On June 25, 2009, the world was stunned by news that seemed impossible to comprehend – the King of Pop died. Michael Jackson’s music has been the soundtrack to all of our lives. It is with great sadness that the world adjusts to the reality that Michael Jackson has evolved from being a superstar into a legend whose legacy will never die. Michael didn’t just show us that perfection in song and dance was attainable, he made us believe that we could all “heal the world, and make it a better place.” He is one of the largest icons to ever walk on this earth and his talent was only matched by his humanitarianism. The world is a better place for him having been in it. He continues to inspire countless people worldwide. Indeed, his passing has left his fans reeling. However, there is an exciting new project that is sure to spread some cheer amid a surge of grief. Artists David Ilan in partnership with Emmy-nominated television series creator/executive producer and best-selling author Jerry Biederman and the MJ Fan Club have teamed up and to launch the SupportJacksonPortrait website, in hopes of seeing a tribute through to fruition for an interactive portrait of Michael Jackson in which millions of fans can participate.
A Portrait of Michael Jackson created from millions of hand-drawn dots will invite millions of fans worldwide to become part of Jackson's legacy by getting a free dot in the portrait in their name. A dot is not drawn on the canvas until someone signs up for it; at least one million fans (dots) are needed to complete the image of the King of Pop, with room in the portrait for many more millions to participate. The organizers of this tribute have the support of Ken Kragen, who was responsible for "We Are the World," The Robson Family (Joy, Wade and Chantal), and Don Wilson, the creator / director / producer of the "Man in the Mirror" video. Proceeds will be donated to several charities that were dear to Michael, including The Make A Wish Foundation. Every single hand-drawn dot David places on his canvas represents a real person. People have joined David's projects from over 150 countries. Every Michael Jackson fan will be able to get a free hand-drawn dot added to the portrait in their name. Thus far people representing over 100 countries have signed up to take part in this project. The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait is a partner of The Michael Jackson Fan Club (http://www.MJfanclub.net), the largest Michael Jackson fan club in the world, which was supported by Jackson himself.
If 250,000 fans vote in support of the Michael Jackson Portrait project here, the drawing will begin. A dedicated website will be created so people can sign up for their free dot. People will be able to attach a message to their dot if they choose. Every time someone signs up, a dot will be hand drawn in the work of art in their name. People will be able to go online to see the portrait as it evolves toward completion and read some of the messages.
To date nearly 100,000 fans have signed up for the project. At least one million fans will be needed to complete the drawing. Be sure to tell all of the MJ fans in your life to sign up to be a part of this truly special project.
David Ilan on his artwork:
All dots are created equal and all people are created equal. The dots are all the same size and each one is vital to the finished portrait. Each dot individually tells a story of one person, but when the dots work together, that is when the drawing is formed and a purpose is achieved. In essence, people are working together to create a drawing. Participants feel like they are part of a group - they are doing something important by joining; they are part of something bigger than them standing alone. It gives people a certain kind of strength knowing that they are important and necessary in the drawing. I don't add dots until people join (for free). Every dot is in someone's name and if that person did not join, a dot would not have been added.
David Ilan took time to speak with Examiner on this important project that will be sure to excite fans around the world and offer them an outlet to express their support for Michael Jackson.
Katrina-Kasey Wheeler: Had you thought of doing a portrait for Michael Jackson before he passed since you have drawn many celebrities?
David Ilan: After Michael Jackson died, it was obvious what an impact he has had on the world, he really did try to make it a better place. I remember once, I saw a limo in front of my house and someone later told me that it was Michael Jackson. I wish that I had known because I would have approached him.
KW: How did the project come to life? What needs to be done in order for the project to commence?
DI: I basically wanted to make sure that we had at least 250,000 fans sign up for this project. I think that if we can get that number of fans, then we will attract the rest. This project has the potential for tens of millions of fans to be included. It is an honor for me to be able to do this. He has hundred of millions of fans so it is just a matter of getting the message out to his fans to let them know that they can have a part in this. Thus far the success in the number of people that have signed up is because of the fans and word of mouth. This is the first interview that I have done for this project and it is a matter of getting the media involved to spread this news.
What really amazes me is the outpouring of love all around the world. It is phenomenal to see the impact that MJ had on countless people. The thing that also amazes me is that so far with this project the fourth highest ranking country in regard to the number of people that have signed up is Iran. It is fascinating because for being in a country where there is so much turmoil, these dedicated fans have found a way – even with all the restrictions – to go online and sign up for the project. Michael was such an inspiration with his songs talking about world peace, and the people in places like Iran and Iraq, they are passionate about peace, and they are passionate about Michael Jackson. He was so much more than a dancer and an entertainer. There was something special about Michael to incite this type of reaction from around the world.
David Ilan pictured with Maria Shriver
KW: The fact that he was so charitable as well, and actually holds the record as the most charitable pop star in history.
DI: Yes he was. I can’t really say what charities were involved, but I know that he did give a lot of money also to other charities that no one ever knew about, anonymously. He didn’t want recognition. He didn’t want people to know that he gave money he just wanted to help people. He had a tremendous power just by being himself. If he wanted to help a cause, all he needed to do was show up to an event.
KW: Have you been surprised by the outpouring of love all around the world since his passing?
DI: We have been so pleased to receive so many emails from around the world. People who are so excited to be a part of the project. Everyone has been inspired by Michael in one way or another. It has been great to read the stories. We have also received a number of emails from people who believe they are psychic. They say that they have had visions of Michael. I guess it is irrelevant whether one believes in that type of thing, the point is, that it is just another example of the impact he has had – so much so that people who have never met him are feeling the loss. It is pretty overwhelming to see the love and support that fans everywhere have show during this time. It might sound like a cliché, but I think he would be happy to see what is going on since he has passed. He is the only performer that could sell out thousands of tickets in a matter of minutes.
KW: He definitely was a magnetic force of nature.
DI: When Michael Jackson walked into a room, people went crazy. Everyone in that room would be talking about the fact that he was there. What is so great about that is that he remained so modest.
KW: What do you hope to accomplish with this portrait?
[DI:] There are two things that I want to do with this portrait. The first is to make sure that it is something that Michael would love, and the second is to make sure the fans love it.
I am in the process of planning out the actual drawing. We are organizing a committee of people who were close to Michael to help me decide what type of portrait this should be. There are so many details to consider. For example, should Michael be alone or helping someone. The possibilities are endless. There is a lot of planning that needs to be done before I officially start the portrait. It is an honor to be able to draw this portrait, but I feel like I am just the instrument. While I will be the one to technically draw the dots on the portrait, this is really about the fans. This is their opportunity to be a part of this to show their support.
KW: Where will this portrait be housed?
DI: We are waiting to see if anything will be done with Neverland. We do plan on having a launch when the first ten dots are drawn, however, after that, we hope to have showings all around the world so that fans can see the portrait up close. We also are considering a live event where people may sign up for their dot. We were also discussing the possibility of selling prints of the portrait when it is finished so that fans can also have it in their possession.
What project partner Jerry Biederman had to say on the portrait:
Michael Jackson’s death really takes you back to that moment when you remember where you were when you heard about it. The only thing that I can relate this to is when President Kennedy was assassinated – I was in kindergarten at the time. I remember going on AOL and seeing the news that Michael had passed and it just was shocking. Within two hours, I picked up the phone and called David Ilan and asked him to do this. We had collaborated on the interactive work of art for President Obama.
With Michael’s passing, I think it hit me hard because I actually grew up in the same neighborhood as he did, in Encino, California. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet him. But I do feel connected to him as all the other fans do.
This is something that will have an impact on future generations. His legacy will live on. The portrait has thepotential for tens of millions of fans to be involved. We are planning a launch in which the first ten dots will be of people who knew him personally.
Here is what you can do to help. Tell everyone you know about the website. Sign up, and spread the word to every MJ fan that you come across. This will be sure to be a historic portrait that will last forever, as well as a wonderful way for fans around the world to show their undying love and support for an artist that is truly one of a kind.
For more information and to sign up for your dot on this portrait please visit: SupportJacksonPortrait.com.
For more information on the Michael Jackson Fan Club please visit: MJfanclub.net
To learn more about the artist David Ilan, please visit: DavidIlan.com.
To learn more about producer and author Jerry Biederman please visit: Biedermanowens.com.