To declare art as all things to all people, is lazy; yet at the same time, the prospect of having to frame it with any degree of specificity is not something we relish more than chewing rock. Suffice it to say that art, through the inspired, practised genius of the artist, allows us to see things in a new, sometimes even fantastical light that is at once removed from the fidelity of photography yet paradoxically closer to the true nature of the subject. That is why for the Patek Philippe cover story in Revolution Asia #58, we commissioned Matthew Miller, AKA Sunflowerman, to execute five one-off watercolour paintings to illustrate the article.
These paintings are now available for purchase at our shop! But who is Sunflowerman? From the boy who imagined Sunflowerman into being – a superhero of sorts, whose cape is an improvised shower curtain patterned with sunflowers – to the dapper menswear fashion artist who travels the world wherever his commissions take him, art has been the constant in Miller’s life, and what stands out in the life-long refinement of talent and technique in Sunflowerman’s case that makes his works so suited to the watchlover, is that he is himself, like us, touched by a love for exquisite watches, beautifully made.
How did you come to be called Sunflowerman?
It is a name that has been with me for a long time. It began as a childhood obsession and has grown into a public identity.
What made you decide to become an artist, and a “menswear fashion artist” in particular?
First of all, I was born with a pencil in my hand. In that way I was born an artist rather than becoming an artist. Fashion came later in life. Fashion is beauty in the way we live our lives. Just like art, it’s pushed and pulled by culture and societal structure. For me, unlike painting and drawing, fashion was something I had to discover and deliberately apply to my life.
I began illustrating men’s lifestyle in Atlanta, Georgia. Adjacent and ignorant of the growth of fashion designer Sid Mashburn I was discovering fashion online in the style desert of Atlanta. It began with Tumblr blogs and evolved into Instagram as fashion and art gravitated to the platform. This is where I learned about the cultures of suiting, watches, hats and shoes, amongst others.
What effect do you generally aim to achieve with your works?
My aims are generally selfish. Art and creation are within me and have to be expressed. It’s an imperative of my being. And as you’ve surely read so far, this tends to make me aloof in my presentation. Beyond my obligation to self, I am seeking out the finely-crafted and well-made objects of humanity. As much of this is often out of my grasp, I illustrate and I paint as a way to understand the things of humanity. When I paint a watch, it is an intimate exploration of the designer’s creation. It’s a way to honor the magic that is wielded in this fantastic field of engineering. It’s an homage to the exploration of this ethereal concept of time and our attempt to define it.
Tell us a little about the experience of working with Revolution.
It has been above all thus far, professional. I have to thank Revolution for bringing me in on this recent project to illustrate Patek Philippe. What a great company to illustrate with great detail through the wonderful and frustrating media of watercolor paints. We began with an initial greeting which grew into a series of sketches, color studies and finally the final illustrations. There is a delicate balance when working with a watch magazine and their relationship with a prestigious company such as Patek Philippe which can at times demand more attention but this is perfect for narrowing in on the perfect illustration. I believe that what we created together is a wonderful expression of my love for watches as well as the exquisite beauty of a Patek Phillipe watch.
Your personal insight about art?
The more I learn, the less I know.