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Thomas Miller

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Information about Thomas Miller

Profile image of Thomas Miller

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Graphic Designer
Painter

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Turkey, Dressing
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Florida
Favorite Quote:
Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Birthplace

Born:
12/24/1920
Birth Location:
Bristol, Virginia

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Graphic Designer
Painter

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Turkey, Dressing
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Florida
Favorite Quote:
Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Birthplace

Born:
12/24/1920
Birth Location:
Bristol
See how Thomas Miller is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Visual artist Thomas Miller was born in Bristol, Virginia, on December 24, 1920. Miller graduated from Douglas High School in Bristol in 1937 and went on to earn a B.S. from Virginia State College in 1947. Shortly thereafter, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in World War II.

Miller expressed interest in art when he was very young. He began drawing when he was just nine years old. However, it was not until he returned from the war and moved to Chicago that Miller formally studied art for the first time. He was the only black student enrolled at the Ray Vogue School of Art, where he received his degree in design in 1950. That same year, he was one of two African Americans accepted into the Society of Typographic Art. He worked briefly as a commercial artist for Gerstel/Loeff before joining Morton Goldsholl Associates, the internationally renowned design firm where he worked as a graphic designer for thirty-five years on projects like his 1970s redesign of the 7-Up packaging and identity.

In addition to commercial design work, Miller has enjoyed a successful career as an independent visual artist. While stationed abroad during World War II, he sold oil paintings in England, France and Belgium. He is particularly known for employing a technique known as monotype, a subtractive process in which pigment is removed from paint-coated glass.

More recently, Miller has focused his efforts on creating mosaic portraits. In 1995, as the honoree for the 21st Annual Arts & Crafts Promenade in Chicago, Miller's mosaic portraits of the DuSable Museum's eight founders were permanently installed in the museum's lobby. Miller's portrait of Chicago's late mayor Harold Washington is also in the DuSable Museum's permanent collection.

Though he no longer conducts gallery shows, Miller continues to paint, draw and create in various media. Miller has received numerous industry awards and much recognition for his achievements in the field of graphic design. He and his wife, Anita, have three children and reside in Chicago's Beverly community.

Miller passed away on July 19, 2012.

See how Thomas Miller is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Thomas Miller's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Thomas Miller lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Thomas Miller talks about his family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Thomas Miller describes his father, Edward Miller
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Thomas Miller describes his mother, Rosa Miller
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Thomas Miller continues to talk about his mother, who drove a Flint
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Thomas Miller describes Bristol, Virginia, where he was raised
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Thomas Miller talks about his four siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Thomas Miller describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Bristol, Virginia, pt.1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Thomas Miller describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Bristol, Virginia, pt.2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Thomas Miller talks about learning to draw
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Thomas Miller talks about his experience at Douglas High School in Bristol, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Thomas Miller describes his reaction to the DAR's refusal to let Marian Anderson sing at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Thomas Miller talks about his academic performance and influential figures during his high school years
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Thomas Miller talks about the role of church in his upbringing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Thomas Miller talks about his high school activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Thomas Miller talks about John Borigan and his studies at Virginia State College in Petersburg, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Thomas Miller talks about playing football and basketball
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Thomas Miller talks about his service in the U.S. Army during World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Thomas Miller talks about his service in the 3437 Quartermaster Trucking Company during World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Thomas Miller recalls standing up to a racist officer while serving in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Thomas Miller describes how he met his wife, Anita Miller, and their three children
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Thomas Miller talks about operating a service station after World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Thomas Miller talks about his experience at Ray Vogue School of Art in Chicago
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Thomas Miller describes his struggle to find a job as well as working at Morton Goldsholl Associates
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Thomas Miller talks about the early years of his career, the Society of Typographic Artists, and HistoryMaker Leroy Winbush
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Thomas Miller talks about designing logos for clients like 7-Up, Motorola, and IMC
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Thomas Miller recalls experiences of racial discrimination throughout his career as a graphic designer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Thomas Miller talks about racist advertisements
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Thomas Miller continues to talk about racism in the advertising industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Thomas Miller talks about civil rights activism and the impact of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Thomas Miller reflects upon his career as a graphic designer
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Thomas Miller talks about his work after retirement including mosaics for The DuSable Museum commissioned by HistoryMaker Margaret Burroughs
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Thomas Miller talks about his mosaic art at the DuSable Museum
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Thomas Miller talks about experimenting with different art mediums and honing his creativity
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Thomas Miller explains his disdain for the label "black" art
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Thomas Miller describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Thomas Miller talks about his favorite artists including Leonardo da Vinci
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Thomas Miller talks about his favorite works
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Thomas Miller reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Thomas Miller talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Thomas Miller narrates his photographs, pt.1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Thomas Miller narrates his photographs, pt.2