The Intricate Linework of UK Artist Mat Miller

Some art briefly catches the eye. Some art captures your attention. And then some art grabs you by the brain and pulls you into a visual rabbit hole, getting you lost in the world on the page. We think Mat Miller’s art is totally of the brain-grabbing variety. This UK-based artist creates insanely intricate line work that can take almost a month to complete. His colorful worlds and fantastical creatures inhabit psychedelic visual playgrounds of detail that beg you to look twice. We talked to Mat to see what makes him tick, how he chooses his color palettes, and much more. Check it out!

.     .     .

First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself! Have there been any podcasts/books/shows you’ve been digging lately?

I’m a freelance illustrator living in the wonderful place that is Bristol in the UK. I like dogs, making poached eggs, houseplants, anime, beer, tea and antique things. I’ve yet to start a collection, but I do like a good antique shop. I’ve recently been into a podcast called The Infinite Bad.  It’s a roleplaying game, horror/murder mystery podcast set in the 1920s that’s also rather funny.  

Linework process pic of “Last Mermaid” by Mat Miller.

Are you working on any projects you’re currently super excited about?

Yes! I’m working on the artwork for a couple of longboard decks. They have birds on them, so I’m quite happy about that.

Your artwork is so beautiful and intricate – when did you first start experimenting with this mystical animal style?

Thank you! I started experimenting with the idea when I had to draw over 100 animals for an online card trading platform. I needed a bit of variation within the project and also a theme to tie them all together, so I experimented with the organic masks and smokey elements as I went along, finding shapes and forms that appealed to me. From these beginnings, I’ve applied the things I learned to a larger scale and more intricate pieces.

Completed version of “Spectral Cat“.

You use a few different types of tools and mediums for your work – which are your favorites?

I love my pens, particularly my Pentel pocket brush pen. I equally love getting all of the other components of a piece that isn’t the linework onto my laptop and experimenting with them to make backgrounds and new textures. This feels a lot like playtime, whereas the drawing stage can be a bit more intense. I’m always curious to try new things that might take my work on to a different place, so currently, I’m playing around with acrylic paints and making strokes with different coloured blobs fresh out of the tube.

Mat Miller’s design “Swallows And Amazons” on Bucketfeet.

If your art had a soundtrack, what types of music would be included?

It would probably be quite trip hop heavy with some Nick Drake and John Martyn thrown in.  

Closeup of the details in “Communion“.

I noticed you often choose unexpected colors for certain environments – how do you go about choosing a color scheme for a piece?

It happens quite organically without too much planning most of the time. I’ll block in my colours and then maybe get the main element (usually an animal) sorted and go from there. I’m naturally drawn to making everything pink and blue for some reason, so I have to actively stay away from going down this route if I can. I’m really into reds and oranges at the moment.

Just a few of the items in Mat Miller’s Artist Shop! Top row: “Phantasmagoria” on a phone case, “Spectral Cat” on a tapestry, and “Swallows And Amazons” on Bucketfeet. | Bottom row: “Journeying Spirit (Deer)” on a framed art print, “Aerialist” on Bucketfeet, and “Forest Warden” on a rug.

Tell us a little bit about the designs you’ve chosen to feature in your Artist Shop! Do you have any favorite products to see your art on?

I’m adding all of the pieces I’m most proud of and that have been received well on other platforms and social media. It’s great to see them all coming together knowing the time they’ve taken and the array of different emotions felt whilst creating them. These include crippling anxiety, helplessness, pride, surprise, joy, and optimism. I really like seeing my art on some of the larger format products like tapestries, blankets, and rugs. It’s nice to think that my work might be brightening up people’s’ floorboards, sofas, beds or even a whole corner of their homes.

Shark piece from Mat’s Instagram.

Your linework is so intricate – how long does a typical piece take from pencil to color?

Anywhere between ten and twenty days, I’d say. Smaller pieces that are A4 size or smaller are often much quicker and only take a few days.

If you could have an animal guardian, what would you want yours to be?

I think a massive grizzly bear that was also friendly and up for hugs.  

Closeup of the line work for “Journeying Spirit (Bear)” via Mat’s website.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Just a thank you to Threadless for wanting to feature my work and to anyone who’s taken the time to read up to here. Thanks!

Don’t have an Artist shop? Click here!

Carlyn Hill

Content & Strategy Manager at Threadless by day, dad joke aficionado, cartoonist, & contributor for sites like HelloGiggles and The Mary Sue by night. When I’m not writing or drawing, you can find me in my cave of a room hanging out with my boyfriend, Netflix.