Natalie Miles / Graphic Design

Natalie Miles, Watkins College of Art

What’s your ritual to get prepared, or in the zone, to create?
I like to clean my workspace (it usually gets messy when I work), then I will decide what type of music I want to work to that day and play it on my record player. Next, I’ll warm up with a doodle or small gouache painting and then transition into working on my project.

Have you had any interesting collaborations with fellow artists at Watkins?
Collaborations with fellow artists usually happen during the process of my projects. For example, I was stuck on developing a theme for a project and a fellow artist friend just so happened to be learning about film noir in his film class. After bouncing around ideas, we came to the conclusion that my project would be more interesting if it took on the dark, mysterious spirit of film noir. This collaboration pushed my project out of my comfort zone and created an interesting outcome that I would have never expected.

Name the one place in Nashville you go for inspiration or rejuvenation.
I like to go to the farmer’s market. I like the selection of food and that it’s so close to the Bicentennial Park, which is nice to walk around and rejuvenate. I also get inspiration from this area from people-watching and walking through the garden area they have set up with all kinds of flowers and cacti. 


I like my work to create a feeling based on shapes and color.

What do your parents think about your being an artist?
My parents are supportive of me choosing the career I want. They aren’t artists and don’t know a lot about art as a career, but they always encourage my work and want me to do what makes me happy.

What does success look like to you?
To me, success is happiness. I’m not looking for a ton of money. I just want to be able to create my art on a daily basis and be able to support myself.

What advice do you most often give yourself or other artists?
I have to often tell myself, “Don’t try to do everything.” Find a niche that you are good at and enjoy and focus all of your energy on it to be the best at it. So, instead of trying to master all types of illustration and design, I try to focus the most on my favorite type of illustration, which is art licensing, and work toward becoming really good at it.

Biggest myth about being an artist?
That it doesn’t take practice if you were born with a natural talent. There’s so much hard work, research, and experimentation that are essential in becoming a great artist, but I think people undervalue the work of artists because they don’t realize what is really put into a successful arts career and the discipline it took for them to get to that level.

Which has been your favorite course at Watkins?
I really enjoyed my Illustration 3 class. The class focused on working on assignments with visiting illustrators and art directors and it really gave me a clearer idea of what it would be like to work for clients in the real world. It was also beneficial to hear the visiting artists give feedback, demonstrate their own process, and answer questions about their freelance careers and hurdles they’ve experienced.