Dieter Miller’s career is evidence of the opportunities awaiting artists and designers hungry enough to pursue them. By day, he works on the images used in advertising for Doner’s clients; by night, he paints characters and other elements recognized by those intrigued by the world of fantasy.
“As a retoucher, I use my Photoshop skills to assemble images and renders to create magazine ads and billboards,” said Miller, whose clients at Doner include Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Fiat, Jeep and the Detroit Zoo. “While I enjoy the dynamic, fast-
paced field of advertising, it’s actually the freelance work I’ve done as an illustrator and concept artist for gaming and film that I’ve done the longest. Currently, these two roles are actually overlapping!
“So far, the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career is staying on top of all of the projects. While freelancing, I sometimes work on 10 paintings at a time. While it’s fantastic to have that much work, it can be overwhelming to manage it all, yet rewarding once everything comes together. I've become a master of time management and self motivation.”
As a fantasy/sci-fi concept artist and illustrator, art directors connect with Miller to briefly describe characters or game items. Then he paints them according to the game or film's aesthetic. Most notably, he worked with Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder roleplaying game for two years following his graduation from CCS and Alderac Entertainment's Legend of the Five Rings. He has also done concept art for several indie sci fi and fantasy films and comic books.
“Working on Pathfinder has been my greatest personal accomplishment so far,” said Miller. “Sounds vague, but it's because so many people play the game. It’s exciting to see their reactions when they find out I worked on it and share their stories about the characters I helped design.”
In both of his positions, Miller uses the skills he learned as an illustration major at CCS. He originally chose this concentration because he always enjoyed drawing and knew the program would challenge him to flex his creative muscles and broaden his skillset.
“For example, I had done very little painting prior to CCS and came out of the program at a professional level; I actually began working prior to graduation!”
“I would like to call out Brian Kotulis (Illustration) and Robert Schefman (Foundation) for being enormous inspirations to me in my early years as a student. I learned a ton about Photoshop from Brian, and he always encouraged me to dive into fantasy. Robert helped me identify my weaknesses and improve on them.
“My advice to anyone thinking about a career in this field is to stay hungrier than everyone else. Stop comparing yourself to your current peers, and study what the professionals are doing to achieve the level of skill needed to succeed in your desired industry. Stay hungry, stay humble, and stay positive. Follow what your heart wants, and you cannot go wrong.”
Miller’s long-term goals are to one day work in feature film as a concept artist or art director while continuing his current work in video games. He would also like to explore more opportunities in sculpting, especially those that involve 3D modeling and clay.
“As a concept artist, you always like to see your work living and breathing in some way,” he said. “That is always the most rewarding thing to me.”
To check out more of Miller’s work, visit http://www.dietermiller.com.