15 Artists Under 30: Chad Miller
This is the third year we’ve run our New Visual Artists: 15 under 30 issue. What was once a highly edited list of 20 of the best and brightest young designers is now a deeper exploration of 15 of the most original talents working in visual communications today.
This issue of Print comes at an interesting time. This new group of designers, while undeniably adroit, is part of a generation fully proficient in the art of self-promotion in a digital age. Getting the word out about one’s work is now de rigueur. But at a time when new work is relentlessly blasted out on platforms where seemingly everyone in the room is shouting, is it really possible to break through the volume of voices all vying to captivate and capture attention? Moreover, in the Insta-culture of the early 21st century, how does one navigate through the metadata to find the meteoric? As in years past, that’s exactly what we’ve sought to do here. We’ve gone in quest of craft and cunning ideas and ideals. We’ve looked for substance and style and star-power. The list of Print’s New Visual Artists has become a who’s who of the industry’s leaders, and includes Scott Dadich, Eddie Opara, Alan Dye, Jessica Walsh, Jessica Hische, Frank Chimero and, more recently, Zipeng Zhu, Joe Hollier and Joey Cofone. This year’s 15 New Visual Artists are bold in name and in voice, and are bravely making new work in a new world.
“The cover deconstructs the title of the issue, using each individual element to create a composition and reference to the issue being comprised of pieces of work from multiple designers.”
Meet New Visual Artist Chad Miller
Current city: Brooklyn, NY.
Education: I have an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and some sort of associate’s degree from Cincinnati State—a small technical school in Ohio.
Earliest creative memory: Having my older brother show me how to draw skulls at my kitchen table.
Path that led you to design: An interest in subcultures, specifically punk and post-punk.
Career thus far, in a nutshell: I spent a few years in the Midwest working on packaged goods and ad campaigns, followed by a few more years on the East Coast working mostly on branding efforts for consumer brands and higher education clients. Most recently I worked in the New York office of Pentagram under Emily Oberman.
Current place of work: I work as an independent graphic designer.
The key to good design: There are endless interpretations of what good design is, but I think a pretty common throughline is honesty. Good design has to be honest. Contrived work usually comes off as such.
Motto/design philosophy: I try my hardest to make work I like regardless of the context. I used to get bogged down by the potential of a project; now I approach everything with the same mindset, whether it’s a contemporary art museum or a lawn care service. This might sound a bit rudimentary but was an important hurdle for me to get over.
Work of which you’re most proud: The work I created in graduate school has pushed my boundaries the most. It came from a really personal place, so I have more of an attachment to it than most client work.
Biggest influence: Music, and the subcultures associated with it, are what made me aware of graphic design in the first place. It has continued to be a large influence.
How you would classify your style: I’d like to think my style is fairly representative of my cultural identity, the visual result of my upbringing and experiences.
Design hero: I’m not sure I have a design hero. I’ve been on a big Peter Saville kick since I was a teenager, but even he designed that one heinous New Order cover from the ’90s. Some designers that have had a large impact on me though are Karl Gerstner, Rudolph de Harak and, of course, the New Wave guys like Dan Friedman and Wolfgang Weingart.
Favorite typographer: I try and support contemporary type designers as much as I can. My favorite typefaces of the last few years have been designed by Kris Sowersby.
Favorite writer: Richard Brautigan.
What defines you: John Hughes movies, circa 1985.
Cause that means the most to you: Not compromising who you are as a person, despite pressures from cultural or societal standards.
Biggest fear: Either being framed for a crime and sent to prison, or bugs.
What you want to accomplish before all is said and done: Making work on my own terms for causes I believe in. Preferably in a house reminiscent of something by Frank Lloyd Wright, in the remote depths of the Pacific Northwest.
The future of design is: As technology progresses and more and more design necessities are created, I think a return to a more universal design philosophy is inevitable. I personally welcome a collapse of these hyper-specific design genres. I’m critical of the effects they have on design education in particular. Entire programs tailored to a specific role force students down a certain path despite their individual interests. I just feel the unnecessary taxonomy of the industry leads to stagnation more than anything.
Meet more of PRINT’s New Visual Artists in the Fall 2017 issue of PRINT.
Get the latest issue of PRINT to discover our annual list of 15 of the best creatives today under 30. Plus …
A look at the rebranding of an old industry made anew: marijuana
A Manifesto from Scott Boylston on the dire need for sustainability in design
Paul Sahre’s memoir/monograph Two-Dimensional Man
Debbie Millman’s Design Matters: In PRINT, featuring Jonathan Selikoff
And much more!