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Shelley Miller

Name: Shelley Miller

Location: Montreal

Active since: 2001

Favorite surface/medium: crumbling street walls with sugar 

Personal motivation: To show the contrast and imbalance between things, using sugar as a metaphor for excess.

Twitter: @ShelleyMiller

Instagram: Shelley Miller Studio


Q: How long are you into murals? Give me little background of your starts.

I did my first outdoor sugar mural in 2001. After that I was hooked. I experienced how powerful art in public spaces was and its ability to reach such a diverse audience. I did sugar murals in Canada, Brazil and India. Each location changes the work and how I view it. In 2010 I also started doing permanent mural commissions in ceramic and mosaic. That offered a new set of possibilities to reach huge audiences and make a lasting impression on communities. That’s what motivates me.

Q: How did you learn the drawing skills? Do you have formal art training?

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, major in Painting. Master’s Degree in Fine Arts, in Open Media. Growing up, I was also that kid who could draw and was always encouraged at home and at school to honour that skill and love for drawing.

Q: How would you describe your style?

Excessive minimalism. There is a lot of excess in the details and in the materials I use, but on the whole, there is still a minimal aesthetic.

Q: What’s your favorite medium to work with?

I’ll always go back to sugar. It’s such a diverse media. But I also love fabric and quilting. I love to hunt for unique fabric and patterns, so fabric will always be a love of mine.

Q: You love to travel and paint. How much does the current place you live helps you to get inspired? Where do you feel most comfortable?

Montreal is a great home base. But travel is always necessary to keep me looking at new things.

Q: As a female artist, what are some of your greatest challenges or obstacles you face? I think obstacles are perceived. I never focus on the obstacle, just how to stay at the head of the pack. It’s an advantage to be the underdog. People underestimate you, but that gives you more power to prove them wrong. I will say that as a parent, it’s more challenging to travel for residencies, shows, projects, etc. because I have my son to consider. But I just work with that, and not against it.

Q: What are some of your interesting experiences ?

Being robbed at knife-point in Salvador, Brazil while installing some sugar tiles was the most memorable (in a bad way). I was ok, but my camera got stolen. I’m a lot smarter now about what equipment I bring with me. Also, a cool experience was a sculpture residency in India where I had a team of stone carvers at my disposal to help make a sculpture for me in just 3 weeks. That was first experience at having work fabricated. It was difficult to let go of having all the control, but ultimately rewarding to see how working as a team can help you accomplish more.

Please feel free to share your feature plans.

Currently working on community collaborative projects as well as commissions. Also working on doing a new series of sugar murals in different countries.