Artist Interview: Mat Miller on Bestial Spirits: Loners

Smudge, a cat spirit from "Bestial Spirits: Loners"

Smudge, a cat spirit from "Bestial Spirits: Loners"

Last week, NeonMob released Mat Miller's "Bestial Spirits: Loners" – a follow-up to the popular animal-based collection, "Bestial Spirits," which was released last February. We talked to Mat before when his first collection came out, but we wanted to catch up with him and hear about what's new for the Bristol, UK-based artist. Here's what Mat had to say about creating a second collection for NeonMob.

Orotos, an otter spirit from "Bestial Spirits: Loners"

Orotos, an otter spirit from "Bestial Spirits: Loners"

How long did it take for you to create "Bestial Spirits: Loners?" 

In total the collection took around 100–120 hours. This was while I had other projects to jump between at the same time.

Romra, a hedgehog spirit from "Bestial Spirits: Loners"

Romra, a hedgehog spirit from "Bestial Spirits: Loners"

Was this collection easier or faster to complete than part one? Did making the first collection for NeonMob affect how you went about creating part two?

Yes, this collection was easier to do in terms of knowing the exact look that I wanted to achieve. This made it faster to complete. "Bestial Spirits: The Loners" came about from what I had learned whilst completing "Bestial Spirits," so yes, the first collection had a big affect on this one.  I wanted to carry on with the organic masks that I was producing toward the end of "Bestial Spirits."

Grey, a raven spirit from "Bestial Spirits: Loners"

Grey, a raven spirit from "Bestial Spirits: Loners"

Which of the creatures did you have the most fun creating and why? 

I didn't have one that I enjoyed creating over the others but as a set of animals to draw, I always enjoy drawing birds the most. Corvids and hummingbirds especially. I'm still trying to figure out myself why this is.

How did you choose which animals to include in this collection?

I tried to choose animals that I hadn't used in the first collection. This was hard!

"Ceremony", ink and digital mixed media

"Ceremony", ink and digital mixed media

I like how your work feels very organic. Not only the subject matter, but the colors you choose, the backgrounds, and the way you ink your illustrations. It's interesting to me that you start most of your work using pencil, pen, and paper, but complete most of your illustrations using digital tools. Why do you prefer to work in both analog and digital media? What's the advantage/disadvantage of working this way?

Thanks!  I like to work in this way so I can be really focused and switched on at one end of the production (inking) and then have more of a playful, experimental stage when it comes to colouring. There are obvious benefits to working digitally like being able to try things without the worry of ruining something you've already spent hours creating. I suppose it comes down to having a bit of variety in my work.

What are you working on these days – personal projects or work project – that you're really excited about? 

I'm working on a few projects for action sports brands such as Humanoid Wakeboards and Dusters Skateboards which I'm excited about. I get excited about most things I work on at one point or another. At the same time during the course of a project, there is always a stage where I'm utterly unexcited. It's hard to stay creative all the time.

"You Are Free To Fly," commissioned work for Original Skateboards. 

"You Are Free To Fly," commissioned work for Original Skateboards. 

Are there any new artists that you've discovered or come across lately that you've been inspired by?

I moved into a new studio space at the beginning of the year and one of the other artists, Tim (Mr. Penfold) has brilliant work. Seeing the types of things that he's working on is both very interesting and inspiring.

Mat Miller iPhone skins via DecalGirl

Mat Miller iPhone skins via DecalGirl

A lot of your work can be put on to products like shoes, bags, device covers, etc. on sites like Society 6, The Dot, and DecalGirl. Do you create your work these days knowing that it might one day be on someone's clutch or iPhone or is that something that you consider after you've created a piece of work?

I don't usually go out of my way to consider the products when creating my work. I create what I like first and if it happens to look good on a particular product then that's great. The thing these days is, there are so many products to put your work on that even if it doesn't look right on one of them then it's bound to look nice on at least a couple  I like to concentrate on improving my ideas, narrative, and technical ability as opposed to making what I think might sell.

A throw pillow featuring Mat Miller's work, via Society6

A throw pillow featuring Mat Miller's work, via Society6

Do you get a different kind of satisfaction from seeing someone wearing or carrying a design of yours rather than you would from seeing someone putting it up on their wall as a piece of physical art or sharing it on their Tumblr or blog as a piece of digital art?

I think I get the same satisfaction from both. Either way, they have found some kind of connection with my work and decided to express this in some way which makes me very happy.