Suzanne Millius was exposed to a very creative lifestyle as a young child. Her parents introduced her to both music and art, but it was art that captured her heart.
Suzanne was obsessed with creating, and over the years she realized that art was something she just had to explore. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, and today, she makes her living as a graphic designer.
Alyice: How does creating art make you feel?
Suzanne: Oh great question! Creating art makes me feel whole. It makes me feel alive. Walking around in this rat race, with cell phones, instant gratification philosophies, and a fast food mentality. . . all of that “I want things NOW” can make our world seem so superficial and one-dimensional.
When I create art, it’s like I am awakening my own soul, and tapping into the collective consciousness.
Alyice: For those who don’t necessarily know what graphic design is, and how it relates to art, can you give us the inside scoop?
Suzanne: Graphic design is form of visual art but created by using a computer and some kind of art program.
Alyice: How does one go about becoming a graphic design artist?
Suzanne: While going to college for art, I didn’t think I could make money on just creating my own art so I felt getting into graphic design could give me the best of both worlds. I could create visual pieces AND get paid for it. It was a “win win” situation. They key of course, being that I went to school to learn.
Alyice: There’s a lot of graphic design art on the market these days, how do you differentiate yours from the rest?
Suzanne: I really think my pieces are a collision of fine art and digital art.
I think some graphic pieces lack the raw emotion of a painting, mine don’t. My pieces are not just about how I place color or elements on a page, they are pieces of “me” and are hugely personal to me. I have found the struggles I have with finding who I am, and following my dreams, of living in the moment, are pieces that others can relate to so that’s what I like creating.
Alyice: What is your creative process like?
Suzanne: I am always creating words and images in my mind. When I think of a powerful word or phrase, I write it down. Words seem to come to me when I am driving, or eating, or doing mindless, repetitive motions; probably my brain’s way of balancing things out a bit.
Obviously my life experiences play a part in my art, and the people around me inspire me daily. My dreams also give me lots of visual inspiration. And for some reason I work best, creatively, after 10 pm.
I have some recurring themes: living in the moment, becoming the REAL you, reaching for your dreams, fashion, and music so during my creative process, these are always in the back of my mind and are usually incorporated into my pieces.
Alyice: You like to use found materials, like old music sheets in your graphic design work. How do you go about including tangible, touchable objects in your computer generated art?
Suzanne: It depends on the piece, music is VERY important to me. While growing up, music was always in the background; my dad is a musician. I played piano for 10 years—all classical—so music is always seeping into my work.
Using a physical sheet of music in my art adds another layer of significance. Sometimes I can achieve this with words (like my 1926 piece, which has great significance) but other times having an actual sheet of music blended in with other images seems to make more visual sense.
I think the medium is important but the “message” and the feeling one has when they make a connection with the piece is WAY more important.
Alyice: Your art usually starts out as a sketch. . . do you feel that sketching out your work is important?
Suzanne: Oh yes, it’s very important. My sketches are the foundation for EVERYTHING.
I have journals filled with rough poetry, and many sketches. Some of the roughest sketches that are scribbled out on a napkin or a post-it note; they are the ones that are redrawn, and eventually become a finished piece.
Of course I have lots of sketches that don’t go anywhere; some will stay on hold for months or years; others will be just that. . . sketches and nothing more.
Alyice: What do you believe is a key element in creating a good composition?
Suzanne: For me, it’s all about the color and the lines. . . where and how the words are placed on a piece. It’s all about how the eyes flow across the piece. We all do this when we look at something, whether it’s from one corner to another or top to bottom, our eyes swirl around the piece and our emotions and feelings follow according to what our eyes see.
Alyice: What’s the coolest graphic design tip you’ve ever received?
Suzanne: The more you work with any tool (whether it’s something digital, or something traditional like drawing with a pencil) the more you’ll learn how to use it differently, and better. So practice every day.