Tom Miller: Crazy, colourful paintings with a surreal, kaleidoscopic vibe.
WHO IS TOM MILLER?
Tom Miller is an artist living in Bristol, UK. He creates surreal, hallucinogenic-looking paintings with beautiful whirls of colour and texture that give a somewhat chaotic yet hypnagogic appearance.
I’d not seen any of Miller’s canvas pieces but I’d seen a few of his street pieces (and wrote about him previously after seeing him working in Bristol). It was seeing him paint this time that made me super curious about who he was and what other work he had done. Randomly I mentioned it to a friend who told me Miller actually had an exhibition on right now, wooo (see the bottom of this interview for details) and so I went along to see more of his work. I loved it!
When I asked him to tell us a bit about himself he said, “I like magical stuff and making things!”
Awesome introduction 😀
He adds, “I’m not entirely sure why I like making stuff but I love looking at everything and I guess I like trying to create new things to look at, and try pushing what we can see in this physical world.”
The surrealism of his work easily portrays this urge to push what we can see in this physical world; in many of his paintings you can see the basis of something you might see in everyday life… but it’s always got a crazy, surreal edge to it, as if you’re in one of those dreams where you don’t realise you’re asleep until something really weird and out-of-this-world happens.
I can’t quite explain in words how much I love the crazy colours and textures of Miller’s pieces.
I came to your work through seeing your street art. When did you start experimenting with street art & why?
“Street art’s always had a massive influence ever since I discovered it 7-ish years ago, but I’ve been making art on streets myself (between studio work) since I’ve lived in Bristol (for the past 4 years).
One of my biggest influences was discovering Craola’s work, seeing a contemporary magical painter with numerous influences itself within the whole lowbrow scene really made me want to paint, along with a childhood fascination of Roger Dean’s work shown by my Dad.”
Miller cites Craola as a major influence, stating that, “One of my biggest influences was discovering Craola’s work; seeing a contemporary magical painter with numerous influences itself within the whole lowbrow scene really made me want to paint”.
Craola’s work also has an intricate, fine-art quality, but, like Miller, his work pushes the boundaries of what we can physically see. In fact, Craola has said that he is increasingly interested in daydreaming; the fantasy worlds people escape to both in their art and in real-life. Consequently his work is hyper-realistic yet still surreal; for his canvas pieces he mainly works with acrylic paint and uses ‘real-life’ images placed to create imagery soaked in surrealism. It is easy to see how Miller has been influenced by Craola!
Roger Dean‘s work also continues to be an inspiration to many with his weird and wonderful album covers painted for the likes of rock bands Yes and Asia. He specialises in exotic fantasy landscapes with a cartoonish yet realistic aesthetic.
Who inspires you?
“For inspiration picking one artist is stupidly hard but Damon Soule’s work has been awe-inspiring street art-wise. Bom:k‘s striking characters have also really inspired me to want to make more stand out pieces“.
Damon Soule’s pieces are beautifully bright and colourful explosions of surreal, psychedelic-looking collage… they are in fact kind of indescribable… sometimes it’s easier to show than tell!
Bom:K is incredible too, but then I have a particular love for creepy-looking faces. Amazing use of the turquoise and greys in this piece (a colour combo that I think is heavenly):
Striking work and clear to see that with these influences and inspirations Miller’s work could definitely progress even further into the world of surrealism and fantasy… I hope to see many more crazy faces, more whirlwinds of colour, and even more surreal contexts!
WHAT DOES STREET ART MEAN TO YOU?
“Street art to me is honest art. It’s out in the real world and can be anything and have the potential of influencing all walks of life… There’s a pressure I find; having the responsibility to affect everyone in a positive, inspiring way. But meeting people and being in the community making it is a real buzz.”
I feel so similar and say all the time that art in the street is particularly special because it’s so inclusive; open to anyone regardless of their financial status, class, life they lead etc. It is also a very opening and welcoming community; there is something that connects everyone – the love for art!
How did you get into art & what drives you to do it?
“Life, and the potential to spread love and maybe change peoples view on life drives me… giving people something new and intriguing to see is what I seek in life and I only dream I can do the same as what other artists work has done to me.”
IF YOU WANT TO SEE MILLER’S WORK IN THE FLESH…
“I currently have a group exhibition me and Apollo Phox have curated; it’s at the It’s All 2 Much gallery in Stokes Croft, Bristol (UK)… a display of a project we have recently started- Rightside. It’s a collection of mostly my own work which has been created in different ways with music producer Apollo Phox, along with other artists and musicians who have worked in different ways on the project too.”
And here’s the collection of music exhibited alongside the exhibition:
TIMELAPSE TIME (this is awesome)…
Ok, so now you know more about Miller’s work watch this timelapse of him painting to really blow your mind! …Then scroll to the bottom of the article and click on his official site and take a look at everything else he’s painted… he really is a wonder man!
[Video by Oliver Lee].
Special thanks to Miller for answering my questions and providing so many photos 🙂