Harland Miller is a British artist and author, whose works are thought-provoking, humorous and evoke a feeling of nostalgia.
Early Life and Education
Harland Miller was born in Yorkshire, England in 1964. As a young student Miller was encouraged to pursue his love of drawing and painting. He attended the Chelsea School of Art in London, graduating with an MA degree in 1988.
Before he became known as an artist, he had success as a writer, publishing two books in 2000. The first, a book of fiction called Slow Down Arthur, Stick to Thirty, is about growing up in the north of England and wanting to escape to a different life. The second book, First I was Afraid, I was Petrified, is a novella about obsessive-compulsive behavior, based on, and illustrated with, the hundreds of Polaroid pictures that Miller found in a relative’s home. All the photos are of oven knobs, all turned to Off, the only way the relative could leave the house without feeling compelled to return home to check the stove.
“Books were an important part of my life.” he said. “Humor was too, where I grew up. It was an industrial town. People saw life as carnage, really. It was one long , on-going difficulty, relieved here and there with humor, but black humor.”
Miller spent time in Paris after graduating from Chelsea. He bought second-hand copies of Penguin books in Paris bookshops, found that he enjoyed the books and read them every day. He called his time in Paris, the best of times and the worst of times, resulting in his finding his stride as an artist. The Penguin books inspired his style, and he began to use them as the basis for his large paintings and fine art prints.
“The Pelican books arm of Penguin books,” Miller said, “dealt with sociological stuff dealing with Britain after the war. The titles were often things like, very prosaic such as Four Crop Rotation in Post-War Britain. Though prosaic, I often found there was a lot of poetry, unintended poetry. I could immediately see those fields, very burnt brown fields with an endless white sky, relieved here and there by a crow maybe. And that was certainly not the intention of the author, to conjure up that kind of imagery but it did and for me it stopped the titles becoming too deadpan.”
A masterful painter and printmaker, Miller has a fan base of high-profile collectors, like Elton John, Ed Sheeran and John Makinson, the former Chairman of Penguin Books . His works have been achieving record prices, especially in the past two years. Several of Miller’s paintings, from the estate of singer George Michael, created auction records for the artists’ works. The record, set at Christie’s London in 2019, was for a work that sold for £237,000, about $318,000, achieving more than eight times its lowest estimate. Christie’s, Phillips and Sotheby’s have seen a dramatic increase in demand for Miller’s work.
His work have been exhibited in galleries in London, Europe and the U.S.
Harland Miller lives and works in London.