Interview: Marco Miller

Marco Miller is a painter and street artist based in Chicago. He specializes in portraiture, utilizing a variety of mediums including oil, acrylic, spray paint, charcoals, pastels and watercolors. He attended Columbia College for graphic design, however as a painter, Marco is primarily self-taught.

Which three words would best describe your work? 

Chaos, control, and moving.

You have a background in graphic design, when did you start painting and how did you get started? 

Yes, I went to school for graphic design. The first time I ever picked up a brush was four years ago this February. I was going through a hard time and decided to put down the computer and pick up something else... thank goodness it was a brush! How did I get started? Well, I went to a DIY venue called “The Keep” back in the day to sell prints at a Scoundrel (Punk Band) benefit show to help raise money, because their van was broken into or totaled... something like that? 

I ended up having to ship some prints down to this guy Mike’s tattoo shop that following week. As I pulled the prints out of my messenger bag, a gallery owner, David, was standing next to me. David loved the prints and wanted to give me my first solo show. The show took place at Lacuna lofts in Pilsen, and I actually met one of my best friends, Jasmine, that day loading work in the elevator. The opening was a hit! I sold work, laughed, and met a world where I finally felt that I belonged. I fell in love with life that day and knew I wanted to paint for the rest of my life. So how did I get started? Fate. It was fate.

Who or what were your early influences? 

I loved the rawness of Pollock. The structure of Malevich. The playfulness of Basquiat. The realness of Frida.

Are they still relevant to your current work? If not, who do you look to today? 

They will always be relevant, because they taught me that YOU have to be in the painting for it to mean something. You have to see and leave a bit of yourself in everything you create, because that’s how you grow as an artist… You have to fill that piece you left with something new. I look up to experiences today. I love bike rides, the light that reflects off of fresh rain, love, happiness, late night tacos at Coyotes, living in Chicago, the smell of oils and spray paint, helping others. 

Tell me about your process. Do you sketch or work on the computer first? 

I do both. Sometimes I hold graphite and sometimes a mac’s glare. It just really depends on the mood. How do you know when a painting is complete? That’s easy. When there’s no more emotion or a deadline.

From what I have seen, you tend to work on larger pieces. Have you experimented with scale? 

Yes! I paint from 13”x19” to 60”x72”. What effect do you intend by creating large format paintings? The scale makes you take it all in. To actually pay attention to it, and to bond with it.

Why focus on portraiture?

I like portraiture because it is relatable. Every human has related to another human in their life and that’s very beautiful to me.

What has been one of your most successful moments as an artist? 

Being featured for Google Chicago Artist Initiative. It was really cool! But what led me to that feature was being down in Basel for a show “Chicago Style” with some of my best buds. That was a really successful moment too! 

What are you most excited about for 2017 (art-related)? 

I’m most excited about watching my art grow along with myself.