“It’s gross, but I kind of like it”: meet artist Miranda Jill Millen

Date
30 November 2017
Reading Time
3 minute read

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.

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Miranda Jill Millen

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Miranda Jill Millen

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Miranda Jill Millen

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Miranda Jill Millen

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Miranda Jill Millen

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About the Author

Bryony Stone

Bryony joined It's Nice That as Deputy Editor in August 2016, following roles at Mother, Secret Cinema, LAW, Rollacoaster and Wonderland. She later became Acting Editor at It's Nice That, before leaving in late 2018.

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