Gents Among Men Presents: Get to Know – The Sunflowerman

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Whether you are a fan of menswear brand Ovadia and Sons or just a devotee of the menswear scene on Instagram, one way or another, you have probably stumbled across the brilliant watercolor illustrations of Mr. Matthew Miller, or better known as The Sunflowerman. At Gents, we’ve been fans of his work since ‘The Fab’ event and have recently had the privilege of being a part of his illustrated vision in his Daily Fashion Project. We wanted to get better acquainted with the man behind the paintbrush in our commencement of the first part to our “Get to Know” series. With no more further ado, we give you – The Sunflowerman.

1. What do you believe can be captured in illustration that cannot in still photography? Vice versa, etc.

Illustration provides a similar commercial function to photography. Both are meant to entice the viewer to want to buy into a story. Illustration is a specific way to tell that story. Where photography seems to carry with it a sense of ‘real life,’ illustration steps into the imagination and plays with emotions through illusion and symbolism. An illustration forces the viewer to consider what they are seeing. A photograph is ‘real,’ an illustration is an illusion, and an illusion is a puzzle which the brain yearns to resolve.

2. What is the story of the name ‘Sunflowerman’? How did it come to be and who or what is it now?

Sunflowerman is a funny name and has had numerous iterations over the years. It really began as a summer camp identity in my early 10′s. Somehow it held on through the years and subtly bonded itself to my reality. As my professional work began to be noticed, I needed a name to stand out. Matthew Miller is my given name and I can tell you that there are literally thousands upon thousands of people with that name. I have been pleasantly surprised at the magnificent response people have had to the persona and I am proud to carry the name Sunflowerman.

3. Can you expand on how the Ovadia & Sons project came about? And what other future collaborations are you working on?

It’s quite simple really- Instagram. One of the employees reached out to me after seeing my work on Instagram wanting to know if I would work with them on the Fall/Winter 2013 campaign. Obviously I was more than happy to partner with Ovadia & Sons. Right now, I am working on too many projects. The ‘100 Watches Project’ is my current obsession. 100 Watches, 100 Days, $100 each. After a call for submissions I began painting. As of today, I am on watch 37. It is hard work to wake up every day and know that a watch is waiting to be born and that I have to birth it. The Daily Fashion Project is another child of mine. After starting the 100 Watches Project I was inspired to ask for submissions of people’s personal style. Each day I take a submission, illustrate it, and share it with the world. I am so stoked about the response. There are so many people in the fashion scene trying to make their mark by telling people how they need to dress or what can make them fashionable. The Daily Fashion Project is a chance to shout out the styles of the community – to say that fashion is a communal effort. We don’t take all of our queues from on high anymore because we decide together what looks great and what doesn’t. The project is still in its early stages but I am ready to make some noise and continue sharing with the public. There are a few other projects I’m also occupied with, but I’m exhausted just talking about these.

4. How can the fine arts provide a new perspective on the way we view and consume fashion?

Fashion has long been a form of fine art. That is a matter of opinion of course- likely not to be shared by many fine artists. Look at artists like Samara Shuter. This Toronto native is pairing fine art images of menswear and is growing wildly successful. Her work is an iteration on the creative endeavors of clothing designers. I think that Fine Arts and Fashion play very complementary roles to one another. Similar to the way that photography and painting have traded techniques over time styles, textures and venues are traded between the fine arts and fashion. The iterative process that happens when textiles are represented on canvases of paintings that are imagined as textiles is pervasive in the way we already view Art and Fashion.

5. What are five things you cannot live without?

1. My wife, Ruth Meharg.

2. Pencil and Paper.

3. Coffee.

4. The Internet.

5. Podcasts.

Nancy Musinguzi is a freelance writer, photographer, spoken wordist, and political artist located in Long Island City, NY. A recent graduate from Rutgers University, she hopes to pursue an MFA in Directing and use film as a tool of social commentary and activism in the arts. She enjoys reading, writing provocative prose, watching movies, meeting new people, and seizing every opportunity to learn more about the world around her.