My name is Steve Miller. My paintings are inspired by the people, places, and things that are near and/or dear to me. Derived from both observation and imagination, I like to see what my head, heart, and hand can produce. The resulting narratives are conceptual, expressive, and mostly representational. However, sometimes, abstraction is the best representation for often hard to communicate feelings or moments of introspection. My painting style is a byproduct of the concepts and feelings I choose to explore as an artist, which I am still developing.
Steve Miller was born in 1970 in Norman, Oklahoma on the same day someone famous died. Early on, Steve was inspired to be creative, clever, and funny due to how boring and/or angry other people can be.
Following a family tradition, Steve's first art assignment was to draw his own shoe. His father's watercolor of a Converse Hightop was much better than his crappy marker drawing of his generic tennis shoe. As a boy, he occasionally drew comic strips, fictional characters, or a still life, but didn't really like to sit still for too long.
He got his first acoustic guitar, a Gibson with hummingbirds on the pick guard, when he was 10. In the tenth grade he was Band President and played the trumpet, until he quit in the middle of the year to play the drums and form his first rock band called Defiance. He got his first drum set as a high school graduation gift, and he played drums in several bands while attending college at the University of Oklahoma.
As a freshman in college, while working at a palette reconstruction facility, he was riding on the front of a fork lift when he lost his balance and fell off. His right leg was run over by the 2,500 pound machine, and was jammed into the wheel well, until they backed it out and rushed him to the hospital several miles away. After 6 months of recovery and determination, he was back to playing the drums and working toward his art degree, except for that time when he took a hiatus from college in Oklahoma to move to San Diego and later to LA to pursue his art and music. While there, he played in a band that he doesn’t really remember that well. He worked in a swanky restaurant in La Jolla, and later as a custodian for the La Mesa Spring Valley School District where he cleaned carpets after school hours. Any inroads he made into the art community there were ruined by his honest critiques and his own hubris. For a brief time, he lived and worked in a youth hostel in Venice Beach, and painted after work, on the rooftop of the building. He was kicked out, when he refused to lie on the phone for the owner. After one night of sleeping on the beach, he loaded up his truck with all his belongings and moved back to Oklahoma to finish his degree. He finally received his BFA in painting and printmaking in 1995.
His first position, after getting his BFA, was to design t-shirts. This allowed him the opportunity to learn to use graphic design software, and the ability to print cheap flyers and t-shirts for his and other local bands.
Realizing, he needed a better job to support his art and music obsessions, he moved to Texas to work as an internal graphic designer for CompUSA. They launched their own line of computers, for which he designed the logo and packaging. Painting and music took a backseat to working as a designer.
Pursuing a career in art direction, he landed a job at the advertising agency Tracey Locke, where he met his future wife Tiffany, as they worked together developing promotional advertising for brands like Pepsi Cola.
His Creative Director once flew him and another art director on a Lear Jet to NYC where they were met with a limo and taken to a swanky hotel, as a thank you gift for working around 72hrs straight on a pitch to Volvo. Steve and the other exhausted art director were not invited to the pitch, and were told to lay low. So, they got drunk in the hotel instead. Unfortunately, Tracey Locke didn’t win the Volvo account.
When he bought his first home in Dallas, a model home that shared a lot with two other houses, he convinced Tiffany to move in next door with her friend. That friend would later marry Steve's roommate at the time.
He and Tiffany went to work for another agency in town, where they did advertising for brands like Rolling Rock beer. A surreal painting of his was featured in a national promotional campaign, as well as on 12,000,000 12-packs Rolling Rock beer. After the success of that campaign, Steve began painting habitually again while trying to move up the corporate ladder. A few short months later, he was fired from his position for insubordination.
Soon after, Tiffany and Steve got married and moved to Chicago, where he worked at another promotional marketing agency for a year and a half helping to develop new brands for Coca-Cola. He would spend his free time exploring Chicago, going out with friends, and occasionally painting abstracts or cityscapes.
After 9/11, and the death of his mother-in-law, they moved to Michigan to be closer to his wife’s family. They bought a house in Royal Oak, and he started painting full-time in the converted garage.
One morning in 2010, lightning struck the power lines above his backyard art studio. He stood in the rain with local fire fighters, and watched his art studio and life's work burn to the ground, as they waited for DTE to come and turn off the power so they could put the fire out. It was a total loss, but thanks to his insurance, and the city's permission, he rebuilt and got back to work a year later. He calls his rebuilt backyard studio the Hiatus because everything is temporal.
Steve is a husband and father, visual artist and freelance designer, and hobby musician who likes to explore and capture life’s moments through painting, graphic design, and songwriting, while using his creative powers for good. Art communities throughout S.E. Michigan and beyond recognize his work. Recently, his painting, “Trail Dreams” won 1st place in the 2018 Canvas Pontiac art competition. He followed that up by winning Best-of-Show for his painting "Rocky Climb" in the 2019 Embrace Creatives' online exhibition "Warmth". He is a three-time BBAC's MFAC participant, and his “Ofrenda to Robin Williams” collaboration with fellow artist, Alex Goecke was showcased and featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Also, he has donated multiple paintings to various fundraisers to support organizations that help others with financial and/or health concerns. He's involved in his community as well as his children's education. He's been a stay-at-home dad, a room parent, and a supportive husband for his career-focused wife. He's had some success, many setbacks, and a bit of luck, and he believes living in the present with few expectations, is a great way to stay creative.
2019 WARMTH, Embrace Creatives, LLC, online exhibition, Juried by Andrea Bogart and the Selection Committee
2019 Grosse Pointe Artists Association, My Favorites, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI Juried by the Exhibition Committee
2018 Canvas Pontiac Art Competition, Pontiac, MI. Juried by Barbara Heller, Director and Conservator of Special Projects
2017 Grosse Pointe Artists Association, 79th Annual Members Show, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI. Juried by The Exhibition Committee
2016 Grosse Pointe Artists Association, Our Rivers, Our Lakes Exhibition, Grosse Pointe Farms, MI. Juried by Christine Hagedorn
2014 OFRENDA ALTAR EXHIBITION, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit MI Juried by Carrie Morris and the DIA selection committee
2018 Art on Wheels Celebration, Live Painting Demo, Alley Cat Café, Pontiac, MI. Invitation by Charlene Dwyer
2015 BLUE MOON Live Painting Demo, Art and Jakes Sports Bar, Shelby Twnshp, MI. Invitation by Joe Lafata
COMMUNITY TEACHING WORKSHOPS
2018 Plein Air Drawing Workshop, Girl Scout Troop 70261, Royal Oak, MI
2017 Digital Trends in Art, Presentation, Grosse Pointe Artists Association, War Memorial, Grosse Pointe, MI
2013 Artist Volunteer, Boys & Girls Club, Royal Oak, MI
2019 Best of Show, fine 2D art, WARMTH, Embrace Creatives, LLC online exhibition, Juried by Andrea Bogart and the Exhibition Committee
2018 1st PLACE, CANVAS PONTIAC ART CONTEST, Pontiac, MI. Juried by Barbara Heller, Director and Conservator of Special Projects.
2019 Salann Magazine, first edition
2019 Grosse Pointe News, Artists Talk About Their Favorites by staff
2014 CriticCar Detroit, Highlights Ofrenda Altars Exhibit & Artist Talk
2014 CriticCar Detroit, Steve Miller & Alex Goecke @ Ofrenda Altars Exhibit & Artist Talk
2014 C&G Newspapers, The Royal Oak Review, Dads connect at Northwood, shine at Day of the Dead exhibition, by Victoria Mitchell, C&G staff writer
2014 ROYAL OAK PATCH, Two Royal Oak Dads Team Up to Design Ofrenda, By Beth Dalby, Patch staff writer
1995 B.F.A. Painting And Printmaking, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK