We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Miller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
After spending four years studying Marketing and graduating from Georgia College with a Bachelor’s degree, I found myself not feeling super jazzed about my potential future in the bizz. The job descriptions for positions I was finding didn’t seem to stimulate much sense of excitement in me, and that’s when a light bulb suddenly went off in my mind – maybe I didn’t have to accept my future in Marketing just because it was what I had spent the last four years studying.
Growing up you could most likely find me drawing, doodling, or sketching ideas ranging from portraits of my favorite NHL players, space-themed environments, or creating my own renditions of comic books, but it was a passion that I had slowly fallen off from as the years went by. I decided to try to rekindle my passion for art while in college, and took a few Digital Media classes that taught me some of the basics in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. When thinking about my future, I realized that these courses may have quite literally been the only ones I was truly excited about attending (sorry to all my business school professors – it wasn’t you it was me). With that in mind, I tried to pick up where I left off and began watching tutorial after tutorial on YouTube to learn how to use more of the available tools within the programs to the point where I would often times spend the entire day from when I woke up to the late evenings learning and experimenting with new techniques while simultaneously forgetting to eat any form of a proper meal. I became obsessed with the work and if I was going to become a cog in the great, soul-crushing corporate machine of America, I was determined to find a field that I felt a true passion for and Graphic Design was looking like a strong contender. Not only was I getting a lot of enjoyment out of working with these programs, but I began to find a sense of fulfillment from helping friends and strangers out with any design work they approached me with, which in those days ranged from logo design, to album artwork, to creating uniquely branded resumes, to even designing….you guessed it, folks…. pickleball paddles! I fell in love with the designer/client relationship and hearing their excitement when I would send over the completed work was a feeling that kept me motivated to find my next project.
That same motivation is still alive today in my work as a Graphic Designer for Turner Sports managing brands such as NBA on TNT, NBA TV, and March Madness, and in my freelance work. Managing my time between these two jobs and my band, Rujen, can be tough but having the opportunity and privilege to do the things I love for a living makes that stress far more manageable.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My freelance design work specializes in indie/psych album artwork, logos, flyers, and merch. It’s been a slow and steady ascent to where I am today that has taught me to trust my own instincts and tastes along the way. When I first began designing, I was much more of a “yes man” when it came to accepting any and every job that came my way. I needed those projects to learn and grow more as a designer, but it has been quite nice to be able to pick and choose the projects I involve myself with a bit more carefully nowadays. Spending more time creating the work that you want to create as opposed to what others want from you is a very freeing and rewarding process that I feel has actually lead me to more clients who make the types of music that I am interested in. I started to find that bands were approaching me for my specific style of artwork as opposed to a more “hey can you make this type of art?”, which is not only flattering and humbling but also much more enjoyable to work on.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Homegrown for breakfast, La Fonda for lunch (with a large Mexican Iceberg no doubt), and The Local wings,a.k.a the best wings crafted on American soil, for dinner. My new go-to is a Brazilian coffee shop called Buteco that’s right down the road from my pad in Grant Park …they often have a DJ spinning Brazillian vinyl as well as some live music, and as if cocktails weren’t great enough, they serve to-go cocktails in a Capri Sun-esque bag which is clearly just fantastic. Also, a trip to Highland Row Antique is a must. I could probably spend an entire day looking around that shop while daydreaming of an alternate reality where I’m filthy rich and I could recklessly purchase every vintage, mid-century modern piece of furniture there (specifically chairs – what can I say? I love a good chair, so sue me!).
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d dedicate this shoutout to my parents who have always encouraged me and provided me all the support I needed to pursue my passions, and to my Digital Media professor Clay Maxwell – without his courses I may have never ended up where I am today.