Do you want nightmares? Because The Art of Ian Miller is how you get nightmares. The decades-spanning career of award-winning fantasy artist Ian Miller is not only traversed in the 159 pages of this hefty tome of artwork, but its prose from the man himself (co-written by Tom Whyte) breaks down key elements of his expansive portfolio into bite-sized chunks of digestible information and even occasional wisdom, especially for aspiring artists looking to glean insight into the artistic process of a giant in his field.
Ian Miller is a British illustrator whose career has taken him through gothic and macabre realms as varied as fantasy worlds from the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and J.R.R. Tolkien to the surreal filmscapes of Ralph Bakshi; with work including book covers, magazine illustrations, graphic novels, and more, which ultimately led to a reputation worthy of private commission work. Over the past 40+ years, Miller has done it all, and this collection puts a little bit of everything right in your hands.
Many artists, particularly artists who trade on fantasy, have what can be described as “signature” elements which would seem to permeate a great many pieces of their work. Dali had clocks, elephants, and eggs; H.R. Giger has metal and engines; Ian Miller has spheres and trees. Miller discusses both of these signatures in this book, but it’s what he doesn’t have to say which tells you the most. In his enchantment with trees, Miller finds a way to create artwork that feels to be growing in front of your eyes; quite deftly with the use of trees and their branches, but also in the subtle flow of detail toward the edges of his work. Every piece feels as though it has just exploded forward and will shortly no longer be contained upon the page.
At its base, every drawing is merely a series of lines; there is no better medium with which to showcase this simple truth than that of black ink on white paper. Everybody has tested this theory when doodling on their schoolwork in high school, but it takes someone of Miller’s caliber to turn a series of lines into something truly special. In The Art of Ian Miller, it is proven page-after-page that Miller should be described as nothing less than a master of contrast. Of course, it’s not just in his use of black ink on white paper; it’s in his ability to illustrate the worlds within a mind where things are not black and white; where the darkest recesses of chaos gently bleed into the placid surface of light.
Yes, it’s true there also be dragons here and this book would be great for anyone who loves a world filled with the likes of Game of Thrones and The Desolation of Smaug, but with The Art of Ian Miller, you’re getting more than an intricate look at the fantastical nightmares of an artist; you’re getting an intimate look at the career of a man who has inspired many–including Brian Sibley, who penned the book’s foreword–to dream.