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CHOPPING BLOCK: MAT MILLER

In this digital age where computers are credited for making everything better, easier and simpler, one wonders if the art of illustration using good ole fashion pen and paper will eventually be lost?   What would fine art become with out the hand drawn images on textured panels?  I for one hope we never find out.  As we sit down with UK illustrator Mat Miller, we find the passion for creating, learning, questioning will never be lost in him as he blends the art of illustration and technology seamlessly.

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POW:  First and foremost I have to say your art is amazing! It's so intricate and vivid. Is there a central message you intend to communicate with your pieces?

Mat:  Thanks very much!  There isn’t so much a central message but I do hope to create pieces that enable the viewer to take a little time out and explore some of the detail that I enjoy putting in there.  I try to combine this with compositions and subject matter that are dream like in appearance.  I’m not one for heavy themes in my work but if it enables others to ponder on their own questions surrounding a piece then I’d like to think I’m doing my job properly.

 

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Forest Warden by Mat Miller

POW:  I noticed many of your subjects are animals, but never ordinary zoo animals. Your animals seem to almost have special powers…. is there a reason for this?

Mat:  I always feel like there is more to our animal cousins than meets the eye.  I like to think that they have altogether different purposes on this planet than we presume and I try to illustrate this in my work.  This is where the fun comes in and I can and ask questions of myself creatively and technically.

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Land of the Sleeping Giant by Mat Miller

POW:  I understand you're originally from the U.K where you studied Creative Imaging at the University of Huddersfield. Have you always known you wanted to be an artist? Was there a particular moment and experience you can remember as the turning point where you realized this is what you wanted to be?

Mat:  I think I’ve always known that I’d like to pursue a career in art and design in some shape or form. When you enjoy something from an early age and have the added bonus of being told that you’re quite good at it by your friends and teachers then it kind of becomes part of who you are.

In 2009, a year after graduation and completely out of the blue, I received an email from Digital Arts Magazine here in the UK. They asked if I wanted to be included in the best young illustrators feature in their upcoming issue and I was over the moon.  At this point in my life I was quite low with my father having died a few years previous and I was lacking any real direction in terms of my artwork and life in general.  Seeing the final printed page spread gave me a real kick up the backside and a lot of confidence to move forward with my work.  This was without doubt the biggest catalyst to moving me to the place I’m at today.  I should stress that this place still only feels like the start of where I want to be.  There are so many things that I want to refine and do better and lots of things I want to achieve.

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Journeying Spirit by Mat Miller

POW:  Looking at several of your pieces, one of them being "Terror from Above", which is more traditional, and then comparing and contrasting it with "Doom and Bloom" for example, which is heavily influenced by surrealism, which style would you say you relate to most?

Mat:  I definitely relate to a surrealist approach in my work today more than ever.  ‘Doom and Bloom’ however, was quite an early piece of mine and although I’ve taken something forward from creating it as I do with every piece I make, I’m working in much different style now.  I think you can see this from my most recent works in my Prints On Wood gallery. To me it’s a better representation of the work I enjoy making as opposed to the work I thought I ought to be making when I was a little more naive.

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Journeying Spirit by Mat Miller

POW:  There is no doubt that you find inspiration in other artists and their works. Such is apparent in "The Unstoppabull Force", where you channel Katsushika Hokusai's "The Great Wave of Kanagawa". Are there any other artists that you look up to and are moved by?

Mat:  Absolutely!  Some of them are also on Prints On Wood.  Jeff Soto’s work is always an inspiration.  He is truly one of a kind and I think his influence on a new generation of artists will be very apparent in the future.  Rodney Matthews is also a man in a league of his own.  I discovered him back in school when researching imagery for Lewis Carroll’s poem, ‘Jabberwocky’.  He has remained a favourite since then and I hope to meet him one day.  Others in no particular order include Salvador Dali, Alphonse Mucha, Camille Rose Garcia, Yves Klein, Greg Simkins, Aaron Horkey, H.R.Giger, Yuko Shimizu and Joe Fenton.

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Seeking New Heights by Mat Miller

POW:  Where do you come up with most of your ideas? Are you ever swayed by other art such as music and films?

Mat:  Most of my ideas come as a result of daydreaming at inappropriate moments and taking the odd walk out into nature.  Scribbling down words and doing good old-fashioned brainstorming is a big part of my creative process and a fun part of it too.

I constantly have music playing as I’m working.  It’s not directly inspiring for me but is very conducive for creativity.  I’m a big film and anime fan.  I love the worlds that Guillermo Del Toro and Hiyao Miyazaki make.  I think they should work together.

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Thank you Mat for taking the time to answer a few questions and inspire us to find more creativity in our everyday life.

For more information on Mat Miller, please visit his website: http://www.matmillerillustration.com/

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