The Ongoing David O. Miller
In 1998, to honor our Fan Guest of Honor David O. Miller, we had a T-Shirt Retrospective featuring the Con*Stellation T-Shirt art David had done for us since 1987. We are grateful for his continued contributions to Con*Stellation. As part of this retrospective, the original appreciation of Mr. Miller, written by Naomi Fisher and Patrick Molloy, and included in the Con*Stellation XVII: Hydra program book is included as part of the T-Shirt Retrospective page.
Collected here are some sample photographs of the David O. Miller T-Shirt art. Click each thumbnail image to see the entire design.
David O. Miller: The T-Shirt Guy
by Naomi Fisher and Patrick Molloy
The following appreciation, as they are usually called, was written about David O. Miller for the Con*Stellation VXII (1998) convention program guide. The article is reproduced here in its entirety (without edits to account for the progression of time) as part of the T-Shirt Retrospective, as well as to further illustrate our appreciation of his work.
Okay, so why is David O. Miller, former Con*Stellation Artist Guest of Honor, and this year's (as for the last decade) convention T-shirt designer, being honored now as the Fan GoH? Well, as Dave himself will tell you, he's always been a fan first, and an artist second. And as those of us who know him will tell you, Dave tends to do things in an order and style all his own. Since his connections to SF and fandom have long centered around Huntsville and Con*Stellation, being recognized in this back-to-front sort of manner, years after he left the South for New York, seems to be appropriate.
Dave grew up in Ashland, Kentucky, and was influenced early in life by Star Trek and numerous movies, but was also fortunate enough to have a school library that stocked classic writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. He was quickly hooked, moving on to Isaac Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien, and many others, scouring the library shelves and local bookstores for any SF he could find, which often wasn't much in eastern Kentucky. At the same time, he was drawing anything and everything he could see, since it had always been something he loved to do. It also meant girls in study hall would talk to him, praising his artwork, which for a self-described "shy and skinny little kid" was a wonderfully encouraging thing.
Obviously considerably encouraged, he went on to college at Eastern Kentucky University, where he majored in art and gained some local notoriety by writing and drawing Zars, his take on a counter culture/fantasy comic strip that ran in the campus newspaper for 3 1/2 semesters. He still finds it amazing that he got college credit hours for drawing little hairy guys who sold hallucinogenic "zargars". Going into advertising after graduation was a natural next step, and he went to work illustrating at a Louisville ad agency. It was in Louisville in the early '80's that he got his first taste of fandom, going to Rivercon for one day. He didn't attend a full convention until 1984, however, when he drove to Huntsville for a friend's wedding, coincidentally the same weekend as Con*Stellation that year. Being an outgoing type, he struck up conversations and found he had many interests in common with others there, including beer, reading science fiction, beer, movies, beer, roleplaying games, and beer. He collected flyers and learned about other conventions, which he started attending, and noticed he kept running into many of the same folks.
After a few years of this, he got up the nerve to start displaying some of his work in art shows. Again, this was not the usual order of things - most beginning SF and fantasy artists test the waters by displaying at conventions first, looking at possibly turning pro later. Dave had been working as a professional illustrator for years already. Needless to say, this surprised many friends he'd met while costuming and gaming at cons. "We thought you were just this nutty fan guy - we didn't know you could draw!" He was encouraged by Kelly Freas, who took the time to look at his work and offer advice. He also fell in with the Southern artist crew (Kevin Ward, Alan Clark, Mark Maxwell, etc.), who offered support and a wealth of ideas.
Dave's association with Huntsville solidified in 1987 when he accepted the job of Art Director for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Like many SF fans, he had a lifelong interest in the space program, having been born one month after the launch of Sputnik and grown up with Apollo astronauts as his heroes. Though his job duties mostly involved designing advertising for the S&RC, a true high point, for him, was designing a patch for the Mercury 7 Foundation, and having the chance to present it to Alan Shepard for his approval.
Upon moving to Huntsville, he also joined NASFA, and was soon asked to help out with Con*Stellation. In his words, "The NASFA members were told that all of us needed to contribute. Those days, I went to cons to drink beer and chase women, so I volunteered to design the T-shirts instead of any actual work. The shirts sold out, it was a success, so I'm still getting out of working at the con!" Thus are fannish traditions born.
In 1991, Dave left his job at the S&RC to pursue a freelance career. Though he wanted to focus on the SF market and he did do several well-received bookcovers, he found specializing in SF just didn't pay the bills, and he eventually branched out into other fields. His life also changed even more dramatically later that same year at Libertycon, where he met Julie, the incandescent lady who would later become his wife. He was well and truly smitten, at least once literally, when he walked into a door frame while watching her walk by. He backed up and proceeded through the door without noticing the crash. His subsequent move to New York, where she lived, came as no surprise to friends who saw this happen.
Dave now has a lovely and talented wife, an adorable and highly mobile daughter named Amy, and a career that keeps him very busy. He designs artwork for a number of magazines published in New York, and these days does almost all his work with a Macintosh computer rather than pens, paints and paper. Though he hasn't had the time to devote to SF fandom that he might like, he still reads and keeps up with the genre, and maintains as many contacts as time permits. We are very glad that the Con*Stellation committee invited him back to Huntsville, his fannish birthplace, as this year's fan GoH. If you don't already know Dave, take the time to meet and talk with him this weekend, and join those of us lucky enough to know him in welcoming him back to Huntsville.
"David O. Miller: The T-Shirt Guy" is Copyright © 1998-2008 Naomi Fisher and Patrick Molloy. Used with permission.