Career Highlights: Illustration Artist

This series, Career Highlights, features profiles of professionals in various stages of pursuing successful careers along with advice for high school students contemplating their own future after graduation.

Samantha Miller has been an artist for as long as she can remember.

Originally from Southern California, Samantha moved to Charlotte when she was 11 years old, and says she “was never the sporty kid, so I spent a lot of time drawing, painting, making random crafts out of clay and found objects – basically anything –  where I could create something.”

Her parents were always very supportive of her artistic talent, making sure she had the materials and the means to master whatever skill she was trying at the time. They patted her back when she succeeded and picked her up and made her try again when she failed. Samantha says what meant the most to her was their support of her – still, to this day – wild imagination. “We loved to explore nature,” she says, “and would go on hikes and camping trips, anywhere to see something new. This really cultivated a curiosity about the world that I think is an important trait for artists.”
In time, Samantha found that nature inspired much of her work throughout the years. She says that “Sometimes it’s the colors of the clouds or the formation of a flock of birds as they fly by. Although there are times when there’s no initial inspiration, and projects have to find their own way.”
“The biggest thing I’ve learned from being a career artist is that you can’t wait for inspiration, many times you have to make it,” she says. She’s reminded of the Pablo Picasso quote,  “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working,” adding that “If you wait to ‘get inspired’ you won’t make much art!’


Through the years, Samantha’s talent turned into a passion, and her passion is now her career. She attended Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and studied photography and graphic design, but ultimately received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with an emphasis on Illustration in 2010, where she felt she could be more creative and hands on.

Currently, she is working as an instructor at an art studio in Charlotte, NC, and is in the process of opening her own studio in Wilmington, NC. Some of her recent work includes designing a line of hand printed greeting cards and illustrating a children’s book called The Magical Librarian that should be released in the Fall. The book is about teaching kids about the power of imagination and reading, something Samantha strongly believes in. So much so that she has even and written a small collection of unpublished children’s books. 

Also working as a freelance artist, Samantha works on various client projects including portraits, wedding invitations, websites, and advertisements. In her free time, Samantha loves to work with photography, graphic design, screen printing designs on T-shirts and other surfaces, as well as block printing designs into wood or linoleum to use as a stamp.”Basically as long as I’m making something I’m happy” she says!

Eventually, she would like to illustrate children’s books full-time with hopes that she may spark even one child’s imagination with something she’s made. Until then, she’s just enjoying whatever beautiful paint life throws her way!
She encourages aspiring illustrators and designers to “never stop practicing.” She says that, “your skills should always be evolving, growing and changing. There is always something more to learn, so be a sponge!” She adds “to never give up on yourself. You will have to stand a lot of rejection to get where you need to go, but if you are always sure of yourself and your talent you will always know which path to take.”

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Image by Samantha Miller©


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