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Q&A: Meet the artist

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Most artists don’t invite strangers to contribute to their work. But for Columbus-based illustrator Andy J. Miller, visitors’ handiwork is essential to the finished product.

They are invited to color — using five-foot-long markers — his cartoon-inspired mural show, fittingly titled “Color Me ____” at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art through Nov. 17.

He and friend Andrew Neyer of Cincinnati previously presented the exhibition on a much smaller scale in Cincinnati. Indy’s installment consists of two 16- by 12-foot murals of whimsical, comic-strip-style creatures, animals and objects.

“We expected it to look terrible,” he said with a laugh. “That was the humor of it.”

The 2005 Columbus North High School graduate jumped into the art world full time in 2008 after studying graphic design and illustration at Huddersfield University in England. He’s the creator of the “Indy Rock Coloring Book” and the “Columbus Coloring Book,” which highlight local, architectural gems. Both are available at his web site,

Miller, who does illustration and design work for clients from Google to Sony, also is a speaker on all things artsy. Miller, a big fan of off-the-cuff storytelling with his own children, will present a free talk, “Stories vs. Stats,” today at 6 p.m. at the IU Center for Art and Design on Jackson Street in Columbus.

“It focuses partly on things that people really can’t prove are ‘worth’ anything, such as stories,” he said. “But I know a powerful story can be a lot more meaningful than a graph.”

He occasionally tackles these kinds of topics on his blog at

Why is this latest exhibit

important to you?

People who don’t purposely engage in art very often just don’t seem to have a lot of contact with it. It seems that the closest contact they have with art outside the fine art world is through cartoons.

What is one of your greatest artistic influences?

Charlie Brown. There are all of these adult themes he’s dealing with, such as depression and the commercialization of Christmas. I like the idea of taking a kids’ medium and using it to discuss things important to me.

Much of your work has a humorous or whimsical tone to it. Why is that?

I think humor is accessible to all people, while art that makes a particularly bold statement often can be polarizing. Plus, I’m more interested in having a conversation with people without polarizing them.

You keep your production

process rather simple.

I think it’s easier to create something of excellence with five tools (to draw) rather than with 200 tools.

What do your children, ages 3 months and 4 years old, think of your work?

They love it. I tell my older one made-up stories every day. And a lot of those stories end up making it into my work.

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