“It’s hard to put a label on what exactly I do,” New York City-based creative, Ezra Miller tells It’s Nice That. “I have a hard time calling myself a designer outside of a web design context. And I often jump around to fill different roles: I can be an art director, artist or web developer based on the project, sometimes all at the same time.” Whatever you want to call what Ezra does, we can’t get enough of it.
Originally from Chicago, Ezra is currently taking a break from his studies at NYU to focus on work. He first got into coding in 2013, when he began to teach himself Processing. “It was like going down the rabbit hole,” he recalls, “I had never been exposed to code-based or generative art until that point.” Five years later and Ezra has developed an almost intuitive process, recreating patterns through generative means. “When you’re able to think in terms of code without having to think too hard about what a certain value or function will do, and it becomes internalised, working with it becomes a very fluid experience,” he says. “When you get into the flow of it and lose yourself it’s like nothing else, it’s addictive.”
Binding all of Ezra’s work together is his affinity for replicating natural elements, using blurs and slow bleeding colour effects that resemble fluids which behave chaotically. “There is an underlying order uniting machines with nature, a computational model for everything present in the observable world, a technological sublime,” he adds. This combined with his love of painters and photographers – such as Gerhard Richter, Bridget Riley and Arthur Dove – is what produces his visually abstract work.
In order to achieve these results, Ezra works in a highly iterative way. “Everything I make gets reused or utilised down the line in some way or another,” he explains. Working from source material he’s taken as a starting point, he works in TouchDesigner, creating networks of nodes, saving these and using them as components in new networks. “I also reuse snippets of code shaders and especially image textures when starting a new work or project,” Ezra adds.
When it comes to static imagery, however, he creates as many possibilities as possible to be sifted through later. In a recent collaboration with Adidas, Ezra produced four final images but, during his process, created between 300 and 400 versions.
As well as working digitally, producing work for on-screen and to be projected, Ezra works as an art director for more traditional design projects. Last year, he collaborated with his close friends, graphic designer Mikey Joyce, and photographer Nick Vernet on Suicideyear’s latest album, Colour the Weather, released in July of this year. “Nick and I travelled to Louisiana in January to visit James (of Suicideyear) and we shot hundreds of photos in and around Baton Rouge and New Orleans that ended up turning into the artwork and assets for the campaign,” Ezra recalls, “It was really special to see the vinyl in person for the first time.”
Whatever the project, Ezra’s determinedly iterative process clearly produces the right results. Although professing to have “no technical art skills, like painting or drawing,” it’s safe to say the skills that Ezra does possess are more than sufficient. His work is unique, the kind that makes you excited for what he will make next. Head to Ezra’s website to try his interactive work in all its glory.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.