5 Questions with Pittsburgh collage artist and designer Darrin Milliner

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Photo: Porter Loves

Darrin Miller

Darrin Milliner is challenging and uprooting ideas using paper and scissors as his tools. The Pittsburgh artist, designer, and print material archivist is also the founder and creative director of Social Living, a lifestyle brand featuring his works. Milliner’s primary artistic practice is rooted in collage, combining images and text to create new and distinct perspectives on society and our assumptions. Using both digital and traditional processes, he creates collages in the form of single pieces and chapbook guides. Milliner’s latest work was exhibited in the Brewhouse Gallery group show “GLARE” earlier this summer in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh City Paper reached out to talk to Milliner about his art and practices.

1. Your work is often very playful and plays on juxtaposition and irony. Do you consider humor to be an everyday part of your life?
I think humor is really an essential part of life. I try to make myself laugh a lot throughout the day, or in conversations with people, even if it comes off as awkward or weird. I do the same with the artwork I create sometimes. Even if the subject is serious in a piece, I usually include a small aspect of irony or strange humor in there somewhere. Some people find my art funny, some people don’t laugh as much.

2. Your work medium is mostly in collage. What do you like about the medium?
Yea, my main current medium is collage, both digital and analogue. Sometimes I include illustrations or paintings into those collage pieces as well. I like creating things that aren’t already in existence, but figuring out ways to remix or alter old images into something that comes from my mind is really fascinating, too.

3. Can you tell me about your lifestyle brand Social Living?
I think Social Living officially started in 2017. At the time, it was more of just a name that I could put my art behind. No one really knew who I was in the city, so I thought a catchy name that kind of plays on the inspiration I get from people and social interactions would be cool. After a year or so of creating art with the brand in mind, it kind of formed into the counter-culture, empowering art brand that it is today. My idea is to get the viewer thinking in different ways, or questioning what they feel is “normal,” using all the Social Living art.

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5 Questions with Pittsburgh collage artist and designer Darrin Milliner (3)

Racism Detector (left) and World Remote Control (right) by Darrin Milliner

4. Most of your work is social justice-related or politically minded. Can you tell me why you’ve chosen this medium to communicate a message, or how you hope it affects your audience?
I think it comes down to how I believe that art has the power to invoke action or new perspectives.

5. I really enjoyed looking at your Theories of Survival and other guides on your portfolio site. Can you discuss how you came up with the concept of these pieces?
I think this series originally started just out of my fascination with book covers, specifically old nature and field guides, and government/military training manuals. I’ve collected a lot of similar books throughout my practice and I’ve also been intrigued with the illustrations and tone of the books. I wanted to keep with the style of having useful tips for life with a bit of satire or humor. So some of the designs kind of illustrate really wild and abstract solutions to problems a lot of people can relate with.

Darrin Miller. darrinmilliner.com, socialliving.us

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