Last week, I had the privilege of interviewing Matthew Miller, creative and founder of Sunflowerman. His art is not only top quality water color paintings, but it's very unique; combining custom men's fashion illustrations with pages from old books. Truly brilliant. In addition to some of the questions we asked him, check out the video at the bottom, as well as his online shop for an opportunity to own one of these amazing pieces of art.
(photo courtesy of Matthew Miller)
Kirk: What inspired the name “Sunflowerman?”
Matt: That’s a question that I get a lot. It started back when I was 11 or 12 years old at a summer camp in an acting class. Each kid would pull an item out of a bag, and I happened to pull out this shower curtain with sunflowers on it. At that age, everything was about super heroes and dinosaurs, so naturally, my first inclination was to throw the curtain over my shoulders and tie it off. I then became Sunflowerman. The name just stuck over the years and I began to imagine what Sunflowerman would look like. I began to draw him at school, at home and at the camp. Part of the reason I think it stuck and works for me, is that it’s kind of eclectic and identifies with who I am; it speaks to my roots. At first, I was a little worried to use it as a business name, but people really loved it and I got a lot of great feedback from my friends.
Kirk: Tell me a little about yourself and where you grew up?
Matt: I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a beautiful city about a half hour from the coast of Lake Michigan. It’s one of the only growing cities in MI. It’s still pretty small though and hard to get lost, but there is enough around to find something new and fresh to do. There is also strong art community there. I started out college in Grand Rapids at Kendall College of Art and Design and went there for about a year and a half. I didn’t feel like I was learning and being challenged enough, and was ready to experience a new life somewhere different, so at age 20 I decided to move to Atlanta. I chose Atlanta because there was a school there that I knew I wanted to go to. When I moved there I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t’ have a place to live and didn’t have a job. I was almost homeless the first month that I was there. My van got broken in to that first month, then my van got stolen a couple months later…it was a nice welcome to a big city. Overall, the move was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, but one that I never want to have again. Took me a while to adjust and build into a community there, but I quickly grew fond of the city and people. Currently, I live in Ft. Worth, Texas with my wife.
Kirk: Tell us about your latest book, Neck Ties, a Brief History
Matt: This book was lot of fun. It was a way for me to gather and share knowledge about what I’m illustrating. The book is small, but it’s all handcrafted with original illustrations and writing. It’s a 16-page book that really covers the history of the modern necktie and how it became a part of every day society.
Kirk: How did you come up with idea of combining your illustrations with old book pages?
Matt: When I first started illustrating men’s fashion, I knew I needed to understand the form of a jacket and how it fits, so I started to review fashion blogs and men’s style images. I would take card-stock and a wide brush, not thinking about detail but really focusing on form and shape. One day when I was illustrating I ran out of paper. I needed to keep going, so I took some of the pages of an old book I had that was falling apart. Once I completed the illustration, I really loved the way it looked. I’ve been doing these Book-Page fashion illustrations since.
Kirk: As a creative artist, who or what are some of your inspirations?
Matt: There are so many things. Growing up I loved to draw dinosaurs and super heroes. I actually learned to draw people by trying to draw comic book characters. It’s the worst way to learn to draw people, because it’s completely wrong anatomy, but I just really loved the sharp contrast. I really have a passion for people and love to serve them where I can. Being able to paint people allows me to focus on them while doing what I love.
Kirk: What's your favorite drink?
Matt: In general, COFFEE! Atlanta taught me the appreciation for what a really good brew of coffee tastes like…I love good lattes as well. Some of the shops I like in Atlanta are Octane, Dancing Goats and Condesa Coffee. Now, if we’re talking about alcoholic drinks, I’m a sucker for a good old fashion; Some Maker’s Mark with a little bit of bitters and orange peel.
Kirk: What do you do for fun/relaxation when you're not working/drawing?
Matt: When I’m not drawing or painting for fun and relaxation, I love to sit on the back porch with a cigar and an old fashion and just look at the trees and the sky. I also like to read. Lately I’ve been reading J.R.R Tolkien and some great marketing ideas by Seth Godin.
BIG thanks to Matt for chatting for a bit. Really appreciate your style and artwork...keep it up!