When looking at artist Ian Thomas Miller's body of work the first thing you notice is a striking lack of faces. Bodies are fragmented, people are often cut at the neck or torso, with various disembodied limbs strewn across the page. Every piece has something missing, yet the emptiness remains beautifully balanced within Miller's impressive compositions. His intuitive use of negative space and eye for detail also transfers seamlessly into his photography. After following Miller's work for some time, it was a treat to finally be able to ask him some questions about his process.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Ian Thomas Miller, I'm a 22 year old painter and sometimes illustrator. I'm originally from Minnesota, now I momentarily live in Chicago, and then who knows.
When did you start seriously pursuing art?
Growing up I was heavily influenced by the skateboarding community and skate culture. The imagery and embrace of art within that community played a big part in getting me into drawing and painting. However, I didn't really start taking and making art seriously until I was about a junior in high school.
Who/what are some of your greatest inspirations?
Suburban life and imagery are an unconscious but consistent influence. Imagery of swimming pools, house plants, lawn ornamentation, interior spaces, social scenes and all of that. Coming of age stories like "A Separate Piece" by John Knowles and "Breaking away" directed by Peter Yates have always stood out and influenced me as well. As of late, I've been crazy about Laura Callaghan's work.
I love the look of your most recent zine, any plans to make more? Or possibly a book?
Thank you! The zine was initially something of a miniature portfolio I made a couple of months ago while still in undergrad. However, I rather enjoyed the process and am perpetually a sucker for page layouts and design. I'm planning on making some more small books that are much more focused. I'm working on a series of paintings dealing with ideas of paradise and I'd like to make a small book or zine based on that body of work and the ideas behind it.
What is your favorite medium to work in?
I primarily work with oil on panel. I'm also a really big fan of ballpoint pens.
Where do you see your work evolving to?
As I mentioned earlier, my work sometimes deals heavily with suburban imagery and youth culture, mainly because it's primarily what I had experienced first hand. Although I'm still influenced by the romantic disillusionment that's ever present in suburban life, I've been shying away from it and focusing more on ideas of material culture, object presence, and idealistic/false and hyper realities.
How long has photography been a part of your life?
My dad gave me his old film camera when I was around seventeen and ever since then It's been a consistent presence in my life. It's an Olympus OM-1 and it's still the only camera I really use.
Do you feel like your photographs capture spontaneous moments, or are instead carefully planned out?
I feel like it's of a mix of the two. Kind of a composed spontaneity, haha.
Do you feel there's a relation between your drawings and your photographic work?
Definitely, I primarily take photos with the intention of them being used for reference in drawings or paintings later on. I don't consider myself a photographer, but shooting film has become an important part of the process for me. I think the simultaneous honesty and falsity of a photograph is really great. The capturing of an event in a particular and specific way, only to crop and alter the reference photograph via painting or drawing really creates an interesting narrative and dialogue.
Do you have any goals, for either aspects of your work, that you would like to achieve in the near future?
To keep moving forward, working larger, and showing more work.