Artist Inquisition: Miranda Jill Millen

Miranda Jill Millen has a pretty empowering view on the world. Boobs, butts and vegetables - nothing is off limits. We sat down with her this week and talked about her favourite plants, being motivated and dad jokes. Her exhibition, "Things I've Done with All My Hands and Fingers," is  currently open at Brunswick St Gallery until 6 April. Don't miss your chance to scoop up a print or two!

Tell us about your work?

My name is Miranda Jill Millen. I am a woman and I am a Melbourne based artist because that is where I live. My work is all about double chins, wrinkles, facial jowls and things most people don’t like so much. I’m fascinated by the ugliness that we find in ourselves, the aspects we don’t want others to see. These are the things I bring into my work. It’s about making it okay to not be pretty and ok to be ugly instead.


What is your favourite plant?

At the moment my favourite is Monstera Deliciosa. They are a very ‘hot right now’ and a ‘fashun’ plant. I have a couple of them in my home and when new leaves grow I feel like I have personally given birth to new life and that feels good. There is also a fancy motif of them in my new exhibition.


How did you first get involved in art - were you one of those little kids who always loved being creative or is it something that came later?

I was one of those little kids for sure. I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting ever since I was small, and my earliest memories was drawing pictures in my mothers patch work shop. When I was a kid I either wanted to be an artist, hairdresser, or nail technician. I’m an artist now but I still have nails and hair and I like those things too.


Where do you make your art, and how long is the process for you? Is it a slow burn and you find yourself working on pieces over a long period of time, or when inspiration strikes, it’s all done and dusted relatively quickly?

I make my art in my bedroom like an angsty teen because the housing market is in shambles. I really like working either as soon as I wake up or before sleep so a home studio is ideal. I work every day regardless if I feel like it or if I have inspiration. I have a list of potential ideas of paintings on my phone and I usually pick one and sketch it out, I can tell pretty quickly if it will work or not. After that the process is pretty quick choosing colours and painting the piece. I don’t spend a lot of time deliberating on the piece, I’m pretty intuitive if I feel like it’s working.


How does living and working in Melbourne influence your work?

I love Melbourne and its a constant inspiration of mine. I often get inspiration by seeing people on the train or walking through the streets. I love a well coordinated outfit, some well teased hair. I’m attracted to people that are unaware of their own absurdities, that are wholly within themselves, strong characters that are truly authentic. I love to see scenes, like people changing t shirts in their cars, dogs that look like their owners, I’m fascinated watching people do their makeup on the train. The absurd things people say that give me a laugh, these are the things I love.


Who or what do you turn to for inspiration on days when creativity just isn't flowing?

When my creativity isn't flowing I usually watch some artist documentaries or videos with David Shrigley because I like him a lot. Usually they remind me that the work I’m creating is not such a big deal and I should loosen up and have fun with it.


What is your favourite piece of work of yours and why?

I think one of my favourites was ‘lobster claws are my worst feature and my best asset’, I think its one of my favourites because I thought I was hilarious when I made it, and the work came very easily, my favourite works are ones that make me laugh. I also love ‘you don’t have to be pretty’ because I believe it in my heart and soul.


What is your favourite artwork of someone else and why?

One of my favourites that I have on my dresser is an illustration by Jon Michael Frank, it says “oh god everything is over / I was overreacting everything is ok”, it’s my favourite because it sums me up pretty well and I look to it when I am stressing. Also anything ever done by Chris The Simpson Artist because he is simply the best, better than all the rest.


What's your plan for this year? 

This year I have a couple more concepts for exhibitions I am working on that explore a lot more of Australian ‘culture’. I’ll be in an exhibition event with Raw in May, also a group exhibition held in San Francisco in June that I am very excited about. I’ve got some collaborations coming up were I’m looking forward to bringing out some more tote bag designs and hopefully some prints.


What's your favourite dad joke?

Great question. This one was actually made up by my dad, but it’s my favourite to tell.

Tarzan is walking around the jungle and he hears a noise, he looks over to see a bunch of elephants going over the hill. What does he say? He says “there is a bunch of elephants going over the hill”.

The next day he is walking around the jungle and hears a noise, he looks to see a bunch of elephants going over the hill with sunglasses on, what does he say?

He says “who are they?”

It’s funny because he is dumb and the elephants are wearing sunglasses because sunglasses are the best disguise so Tarzan doesn’t know who they are. No one gets it, and no one ever laughs and its my favourite of all time.



LOLs. Thanks gal!


"Things I've Done with All My Hands and Fingers" is exhibiting at Brunswick St Gallery until 6 April. 

For more info and to follow Miranda: Website: Email: Instagram: @mirandajillmillen

--- Words: Julia Howland Images: Courtesy of the gallery/artist.

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