Miranda Jill Millen’s work is best summed up by the Melbourne-based artist herself: “It’s gross, but I kind of like it”.
“I am a beauty school drop out from Melbourne University (VCA), where I studied costume and set design,” Miranda tells It’s Nice That. “I went to an art high school, but have had no formal education in illustration or visual art.” The self-taught artist has spawned a grotesquely detailed way with happily hairy, lumpy-bodied, lemon yellow-skinned figures which had us confused but cackling with laughter. We caught up with artist to hear more.
As a self-taught artist, how did you develop your current style?
My style is constantly growing and developing, in the beginning I focused on portraiture and face segmentation, the work has grown from there. I try not to focus on a ‘style’ too much, I figure if it all comes from deep inside my heart then I can’t go wrong, and the glow of me will always be within the work. Colour is a big part of my work, so David Hockney is a huge influence. The content is more influenced from life, I am an avid people watcher, so observing people is paramount to my practice. I love watching people taking selfies on the train. Also Abba is a big spiritual influence.
Do you have a specific way that you work for each artwork?
The way I create my work is pretty organic. Essentially I have an idea or a concept, often that can be an entire exhibition, or maybe just a small project. Most of my works are rather large, I’ve found that when my work is created in a large scale it stops becoming illustration and looks more like ‘art’, then I can charge more for it and hopefully one day be sponsored by a big company like Colgate. I start by sketching the work, then it is a long process of painting the areas of colour, which need a number of different layers. I hate mixing paint, so I have a lot of colours of acrylic paints that I use straight from the tub. I use graphite for the outlining, pens always break, the coloured gesso’s I use file down the nib in a matter of minutes.
Where do you turn when you run out of ideas?
I tend to have a list on my phone of ideas incase I run out. But if I am feeling uninspired my go to’s are watching a David Hockney or David Shrigley interview. They usually make some kind of joke or overly simplistic remark that makes me calm down about it all. I listen to the piano solo in Chiquitita, as it almost always moves me to tears. I search Gianni Versace fashion on Pinterest, and then if all else fails I have a glass of wine and take a nap.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on my new solo show, which will be exhibited in March 2018 in Melbourne. The show is a secret which I don’t tell anyone about, much like the way I tell people that my white teeth are a product of genetics, and not the cheap teeth whitening strips found in my vanity. The show is something I’ve been working on all year, and I don’t think I have ever been so excited by the work I am doing. The show is a celebration of an iconic part of Australian culture, and a huge influence of mine.