INTERVIEW 001 | MICHAEL MILLER for Artillery Magazine

February 03 2012 . 01:55am

Interview by Luke Shirlaw exclusively for Artillery Magazine.
Artillery script handwritten by Michael Miller.
Photographs by Michael Miller, courtesy of Known Gallery and Michael Miller.


It’s pushing 11pm in Brisbane, Australia and here I am sitting and staring at my computer screen, attempting to weave together a series of words that will leave a vivid impression of the role that Michael Miller has played in capturing the explosion of the West Coast Hip Hop scene. After all it’s what his legacy deserves.

I was eight years old when Michael Miller photographed his first rapper; Arabian Prince in Los Angeles. At that time my closest exposure to hip hop music was Salt-n-Pepa’s ‘Push It’ via the compilation record; ‘88 The Winners’.

It wasn’t until my early to mid teens that I would come into contact with Michael’s photographs while starting to discover and collect the music of Cypress Hill, Snoop Doggy Dogg, 2pac and House of Pain. It was even later, as a grown-ass man in my thirties, that I would finally discover the man behind these iconic photographs was Michael Miller.

In the meantime, Miller was busy building an “expansive portfolio that includes over 300 major record covers, the most iconic supermodels of the ’90s and some of the biggest names in rap and jazz”.

With his book ‘West Coast Hip Hop | A History In Pictures’ hot off the press and an exhibition opening at Known Gallery in Los Angeles this Saturday night, I managed to pin Michael down for a quick interview before he jumped on a plane to San Francisco. –Luke Shirlaw.

You grew up in Santa Monica, Los Angeles around surfing/ skateboarding culture and were an avid listener of AM1580 KDAY, the radio station that brought prominence to the West Coast Hip Hop scene. Yet your introduction to photography was shooting fashion in Paris and Spain. It wasn’t until your return to LA in 1988 that you started to work with hip hop artists, seemingly completing a cycle that began during your teenage years. Now with the steady decline of the music business, the cycle of life has you back working on fashion and advertising. How much of this journey has been intentional, or incidental?

I think so much of it was by chance. I was lucky meeting certain people and being in the right place at the right time. I have always been a people person so I was always out meeting people and really open to new things. Optimism can take you a long way in life.

During those earlier days of your career in Europe, you were experimenting with your own version of cross-processing films – these techniques helping to create the aesthetic of your early music photographs. How has the advent of digital photography transformed your current work?

It hasn’t and I’m not a fan but it’s very useful for checking the lighting etc. So now it’s used for the clients to look at the computer screen. It’s great for that and shooting locations. It has its place.

What are your thoughts on today’s photography environment? A camera is in the pocket of just about every kid in America.

I was kind of bummed about that… My 16 year old – at the age of 14 – her friends were taking photos better than you would see in the magazines and a couple of them used my same camera…

But now I’m enjoying my iPhone and all its apps, just like a teenager.

Read the rest of the interview at:

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Artillery Magazine Chapter Five Launch and Installation

December 10 2011 . 06:39am

Artillery Magazine Chapter Five Launch and Installation.

Artillery is an independent publication dedicated to the creative struggle, determination and rawness of the world’s best graffiti artists. In addition to its predominant graffiti focus, Artillery mixes in a healthy dose of art, design and photography; presenting all of it in a well thought out, beautifully designed and printed package. Chapter Five is the most recent and eagerly-anticipated edition of Artillery Magazine.
Lo – Fi Gallery
383 Bourke Street
Darlinghurst, Sydney Australia
Doors Open: 6pm
Featuring: DJ Charlie Hustle.

*Cover photo: Keegan Gibbs.

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Artillery Magazine Chapter 4: The Seventh Letter

October 24 2008 . 06:39am

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