Boys Who Draw Collective

Friday, 14 August 2009

Aaron Miller ~ Interview


Tip-top illustrator, character designer and general all round good guy, Aaron Miller dropped into the BOYS WHO DRAW virtual lounge for a little chat about what he's up to these days. Recently graduating from Falmouth, this boy has been making waves in the design world with his clever, dare we say cute and lovable characters. We got out the notepad and jotted down his answers to our tough questions, while he whipped up an exclusive image, just for us. Keep an eye on this chap...

1) What made you want to do illustration?
I’ve always been passionate about drawing and creating art since an early age, whether making clay pottery once a week with a local artist or drawing cartoons of my family. It wasn’t till my early teens that I realised the commercial power of illustration, well commercial power isn’t exactly what I thought, it was more about seeing new and exciting characters infiltrating adverts and products I liked and I wanted to become part of it.

2) How do you come up with a new character design?
I always carry a sketchbook with me, and am constantly drawing new ideas and adding faces to everyday objects. I usually just draw and the character develops out of a series of black biro doodles. So draw, draw, draw, drink a pint of orange squash, draw some more.

3) What are your influences, artistically or otherwise?

Like many artists I am inspired by the world I live in, especially my pet chinchillas, I find that when I’m struggling to find new ideas, to sit with them while they are playing and just draw. I usually manage a few new drawings without having my pen chewed or sketchbook pages attacked! Also my mum’s mum, used to draw and paint, and it wasn’t until after she died and I was given her sketchbooks that I realised she used to draw little cartoon strips of a dog and it just drove me to develop as an artist.

4) What's been your favourite event/exhibition which you've been part of or seen?

Since graduating I have only been able to be part of exhibitions setup through uni, so D&AD New Blood and New Designers. I would love to be part of some exhibitions and I’m in talks with a few really interesting creatives about getting my work out there more. So if you are reading this and have a spare space in your exhibition, hello! Please can I exhibit at your gallery?

I also have a secret love of the abstract expressionist’s, artists such like Francis Bacon and Franz Kline, so seeing their work in person at the Tate and in the Moma was incredible. My love for abstract art grew at school mainly after an amazing art teacher pushed me and believed in me. It makes me want to get away from the computer, set up an easel and get all messy with oil paints again.

5) Is there anything that you've not done yet, with your artwork that you would love to do?

There are so many projects that I would love to do. Projects such as clothing, vinyl toys, wall vinyl’s, stationary, shop front’s and window displays, basically anything and everything that I can apply my characters to!

6) How do you know when a piece is complete?

This is a tricky one, in the old days before I used a computer, I used to think, I’ll just add another bit in here, then boom, game over. Ruined drawing. Now I like to work on a project until I see it is complete. Go to bed. Then in the morning look at the artwork again, ask my girlfriend for advice. She is honest and tells it, like it is, and also a great tip I’ve learnt is to flip the work horizontally, to see if the characters still look good.

7) How do you motivate yourself?
I never felt like anyone believed in my work at university, I was too contemporary, they didn’t get my ‘cartoons’, but then I was lucky enough to land a big commission last summer and it made me realise there is a demand for MY work. Since then, I have continued to draw constantly and have an online presence, whether on twitter or through my website. I read recently that if you continue to work hard, the work will come.

8) Tell us a bit about doing the cover for Computer Arts Magazine?

Well, I have worked with Computer Arts magazine a few times in the past, and have always thought, I would love to be on the cover one day. Then one day I got an email from the editor, asking If I would like to be part of the list of 24 super illustrators and character designers included on the gatefold cover of the character design special. Yes please.

I was sent through a rough idea of the scene and I managed to get a great spot, just next to Peskimo’s awesome character, I then sketched some initial ideas, sketched some more and then brought Edwin (the character) to life. Most artists involved are true inspirations to me, so I’m so privileged to be on the same cover as them.

9) Have you a snappy piece of advice for budding artist types?

Yeah, I suppose I do. Right, firstly check your emails constantly, and if possible use an email programme, such as Mail on the Mac, and leave it open so it constantly refreshes and checks for email. There is nothing worst than not checking your emails for a few days to find that perfect email from a lovely creative director.

Secondly, draw. It doesn’t matter how rubbish you think you are at drawing, or what medium you use, (moleskin and a black biro please) as long as your record your ideas. There will always be someone out there who is better at you, maybe it’s because they have been working professionally for ten years or maybe it’s because they are naturally talented. Embrace it, ask to collaborate with them, and don’t be scared to ask questions, however stupid you think you sound.

10) What's your favourite spread?

Nutella ;)


  1. wonderful advice! and my favourite spread is also nutella!

  2. Great interview. Aaron, I really like your egg character for Computer Arts. That is one of their best covers yet.