Harland Miller

The Artist and Author, Harland Miller

Harland Miller, who was born in Yorkshire in 1964, is regarded as something of a polymath. Miller’s long-standing relationship to literature lies at the heart of his work; some of his most well-known pieces make reference to Penguin book jackets, but he has also produced a series of paintings based on author portraits seen on dust jackets. Since then, Miller has created several works, including novelettes, short stories, and an autobiographical piece that he read aloud for a BBC Radio Three series. Miller studied at Chelsea School of Art in 1988, but his debut novel, Slow Down Arthur and Stick to Thirty, released in 2000, is where he first attracted attention as a writer. The following year, he also wrote a short study about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; he also wrote At First, I Was Afraid, I Was Terrified in the same year. The title of another of Miller’s later pieces bears a sarcastic, Gloria Gaynor-inspired resemblance. His monumental paintings of Penguin Book covers, representing his lifelong love of reading, are among his best-known works as an artist. Throughout his career, Harland Miller artist and author, has been to Europe and the US.

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Behind the Paintings and Art of Harland Miller

Harland Miller art uses titles, phrases, or single words to echo or allow various interpretations to frequently build up the potential for narratives, distinguished by their humanity and tragic-comedy. He is best known for his paintings that resemble Penguin book covers. The motif allows him to look into the connections between words, images, and the process of making meaning, which he also does in his sculptures and mixed-media works. The British artist is a master of subtle sarcasm, as seen in his original York: So Good They Named It Once and his painted version of Lily Cole’s Who Cares Wins: Reasons for Optimism in Our Changing World. The first time Penguin books put out these commercial designs was full of references to fine art, and Miller says that his book’s simple design is like a Rothko painting with “graphic furniture.” Some of his works are abstract, color-field-style exercises in pigment placement, and convey the dreary, rainy weather of northern English towns through heavy washes of turpentine from his brush-cleaning pail. Miller’s paintings express volumes without requiring the viewer to turn a page, as they are self-portraits and portraits of a generic everyman.

Harland Miller’s Famous Art

Miller uses silkscreen, etching, embossing, giclee, inkjet, and chine-collé to make prints. His works like Whitby—The Self Catering Years, So Good They Named It Once, Rags to Polyester—My Story, York, and Incurable Romantic Seeks Dirty Filthy Whore shows sarcastic life statements. Miller’s prints are usually single-sheet editions, but some are pairs like In Shadows I Boogie was published in blue and pink and sold in presentation boxes with monographs of the same title bearing the book cover print. Harland Miller also painted and printed Penguin poetry editions with marbled covers in the early 2010s. The series includes Love and Other Crimes, and the optimistic Loves Saves the Day. Miller also printed Penguin Plays, where he said that compared to the authoritative Classics, the jazzy, Broadway-style branding of the series makes it seem lighter and has a level of unreality. A series of 1960s and 1970s self-help book-inspired artworks appeared in 2016 with text and graphic illustrations. The titles are humorous and often self-contradictory, influenced by their meaning and typography. Miller also created Letter Paintings. These bright, graphic works use North of England words like Luv and Ace, the only print in the series.

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