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“Don’t be afraid to show your peers and other creatives what you’re working on – you could be missing out on valuable input,” advises Mat Miller.
It’s advice he adheres to – the new graduate shows his work on community art site deviantart.com, and in the Noise Festival.
Since graduating in creative imaging from the University of Huddersfield this summer, Miller has been based near Aylesbury and working on freelance jobs for Seedsolution, a Manchester-based marketing and design company.
Meanwhile, he’s been concentrating on his personal work and getting exposure online and through competitions. “I’d describe my creative style as an offbeat mix of natural subject matter integrating tribal and biomechanical stylings, brought together through a fluid or flowing finish and composition,” he says.
“I try to keep things odd, vibrant and ethereal at the same time.” This combination of oddness, vibrancy and ethereality is hardly surprising, considering Miller’s influences: he lists Salvador Dalí, MC Escher and Jamie Hewlett among his gurus, although he also finds plenty to inspire him in nature.
“The work of David Attenborough is always inspiring... and living at the foot of the Chilterns, there are some beautiful places right on my doorstop. Getting out and about into the countryside and nearby woodlands with my Canon EOS 400D is a chance to gather fresh ideas,” he says.
These photos often find their way into his artwork. “I enjoy working my own photography into my designs and sometimes this is the only material I use, fusing together multiple images,” he explains.
“I use the more traditional materials like pencils, acrylics and watercolours to build backgrounds and textures.” However, this is by no means a fixed path to creating one of Miller’s artworks, which are impressively varied in feel.
“I tend to work primarily with pencil on paper, scan these drawings and then trace in Illustrator. If I like the qualities that the original hand-drawn image has then the work can take an altogether different direction, away from vector-based art.”
More important than anything, Miller says, is the process of creative experimentation. “There’s not a set number of materials that I use in any particular order. I believe this to be a positive, as you’re constantly learning new techniques and ways of achieving a variety of finishes.”
Mat Miller follows his own advice on gaining exposure online: his works are exhibited on the Noise Festival website, and he’s a frequent entrant to competitions on 99designs.com. He also maintains a profile on studentgems.com.
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“My designs are influenced by my background,” explains digital illustrator Peter Lin. “When I was young, I lived in Hong Kong, where I started studying Chinese traditional art and calligraphy when I was nine.
"I moved to London when I was 16 and started falling in love with art and design. My design is always a mixture of eastern and western style, which blend together brilliantly.”
Having graduated from the University of Creative Arts last year and exhibited his work in graduation shows including Free Range 2008, D&AD New Blood and The Creative Talent Show 2008, Lin now runs a studio, 2xanadu Creative Media, with producer Piers Vernon-Kell, in Kingston, near London.
He has branched out into motion-graphics and website design, and has a portfolio of clients across the globe, including in China, Hong Kong, Dubai and France.
“I love exploring new techniques and materials, so I never confine myself to certain materials,” he says. “My favourite technique is to use my camera to record some interesting things around me in daily life, then experiment to develop different materials for my creations.”
On a day-to-day basis, he relies on his MacBook Pro and Adobe’s Creative Suite 3. “Everything I’ve experienced in my life can be the inspiration for a project, a piece of illustration or just a little design element,” he says.
“Everything around you can be really beautiful – it’s just a matter of what perspective you’re looking at the object from, and how much detail you’re looking at it in.”
While he loves to focus on the little things, Lin’s also thinking big: “I’m looking forward to widening my exposure, working with more clients from different countries so that my network and the variety of my audience can be further expanded,” he says.
Peter Lin’s style has been developed through endless experimentation and attention to detail. “I love to play around with texture and watercolours – for me, this is the most interesting part of design,” he says.