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Artist Interview with Brian Edward Miller

30 January 2022

Based in Colorado, Brian Edward Miller (aka BEMOCS) is the artist and illustrator behind Orlin Culture Shop (OCS for short). The OCS represents an amalgamation of influences born out of an 80’s driven childhood, a family legacy of artists and craftsman, and over a decade of experience as a creative professional. His evocatively stylistic landscapes and vibrantly energetic human figures are brought to life with bold strokes and strong color palettes. Brian has created work for a multitude of clients such as REI, Apple, Microsoft, Penguin, Adobe, and more.

1. How would you describe your style in 3 words?

My style is actually captured in one word: Hiraeth.

From my understanding, Hiraeth is a Welsh word that describes a longing for home, a feeling, or a time and place which no longer exists, or exists only memory or the future. It is a longing deep within your soul for a home which you cannot get to and it is the focus of my work.

2. What has been your favourite project to date and why?

While all of my projects have aspects I cherish, there are two which will always be listed among my favourites…

The first is the work I did with Keymaster Games for the boardgame, Spacepark. This was my first true board game project and the theme afforded me the opportunity to do what I love most: creating and visualizing worlds! I worked hand in hand with Keymaster to develop a series of travel posters for each of the galactic locations in the game.

With these posters, I really pushed myself to paint more freely as I attempted to bring every lesson I’d learned as an artist to the work. It felt like a big jump forward creatively and in terms of my craft and at the time I couldn’t be happier with the results. Seeing all of the pieces collected and utilized in a physical board game (crafted with the exceptional quality Keymaster is known for) was simply amazing. The other piece I count as a favourite was my very first screen print called Popgun Summers. This piece was a tribute to my Grandfather and it immortalized the summers I spent with him fishing the mountain lakes of Colorado. It captures the feel of those memories, which harkens back to the concept of hiraeth, and will always be among my favourites.

3. How has the past year changed the way you work?

While our world as we know it seems to have unravelled and the brokenness is more apparent than before, there has been very little which has changed with the way I work, yet it seems completely different…

I work in the same office using the same tools and working from home is something I’ve done for over 10 years. That part has not changed. What has changed is realizing my work doesn’t operate in a vacuum. It is connected to the world in ways I’m still wrestling with. While it may not determine outcomes in this world, it is not divorced from those outcomes. To that end, I care about the ways my work is used, the messages it promotes, and have a deeper appreciation for the role beauty plays in all our lives. With so much hopelessness around us, beauty is what reminds us of Good, and hopefully calls us to ideals and adventures beyond the brokenness of our own hearts.

4. What is your current workspace like?

My current workspace is a studio at home with my family. I’m surrounded by books, different desk spaces so my kids can work alongside me, and enough tools to satisfy my artistic impulses (although let’s be honest… an artist can never have enough tools!)

5. What is the best and worst thing about being a freelance illustrator and why?

The best thing about being an illustrator is providing for my family using gifts God has given me. Ever since I was a kid I have been drawing and imagining worlds, stories, and characters. Getting to do that each and every day is a genuine blessing I am thankful for. However, being an illustrator comes with a host of challenges: finding time to create for myself, finding time to experiment with new directions, finding time to write (catching a theme here?). Time is always one of the things I feel I’m working against and I often wish I had multiple lifetimes to spend pursuing these crafts.

6. Where do you find inspiration for your work? Who influences you?

While I have many artistic influences ranging from artists of the past to the present, I most often find inspiration from the projects themselves. Every project has aspects which make it unique and I try to hone in on those aspects to create the best work I’m able to.

7. How did you develop your signature style? How does it differ to when you first started out?

When I first started out, I had no idea how to find or develop a style so I simply focused on creating as much work as I was able to. As I did this, I began to see common themes and visual decisions which I later recognized as my artistic voice (though it took the help of friends to point this out). That ‘voice’ to me was simply a set of decisions I was making as an artist over and over which eventually revealed itself to be a style.

What I didn’t realize was how much a style can be a box an illustrator is unable to get out of. Rather than being free to explore new looks, it can sometimes feel as if I am bound to creating the same work I’ve done for years. This can be good for really mining specific veins of creativity, but it can also be a challenge to explore new areas of illustration & art. To counter that, I’ve been focusing on chasing aesthetic decisions which interest me, whether it is writing, poetry, brush inking, etc. Being free to explore different directions keeps me interested and helps me to grow as an artist.

8. Looking forward to 2022, what and who would be your dream project or client?

Looking forward, I would love to do more work for games and other industries I’ve only begun to touch on — like fantasy or sci-fi projects. Fantasy art is something I love and it would be a dream to put my spin on it. Anytime I have an opportunity to work with someone who is interested in creating something beautiful — I consider it a dream project worth exploring!

9. What do you wish you’d known when just starting out that you know now?

While I have definitely made my share of mistakes in the last decade, each of the mistakes has helped to shape me into who I am. These mistakes taught me valuable lessons I’m not sure I would have learned not having gone through them. In that regard, I believe things unfolded exactly as they were meant to and I have been blessed far beyond what I deserve despite wrong turns I’ve taken.

10. Having worked on various projects from advertising to editorial to packaging — which has been your favourite avenue and why?

My favourite projects have always been the big ones — the ones which combine aspects of advertising & packaging, leveraging story, and the creation of tangible products. Because my work is done digitally, seeing it printed on boxes or games or on the sides of giant structures is very special. It moves my creations from the pixel based world into the physical world and it delights me every time.

11. What message do you hope people take away from your work?

My hope for those who see my work is their souls would be stirred… that they would be struck with a feeling, a memory, or a longing for home, whether it exists here or somewhere else, and that they would see beauty.

Love this and want to see more? Take a tour of Brian’s folio here!

If you’ve got a project on the boil and need some inspiration be sure to check out our website and Instagram or get started now by dropping us an email at info@centralillustration.com.

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