Gabriela Herstik
April 20, 2017 11:11 am
Natalee Miller

Art, in its ultimate form, has the ability to transport us to worlds and galaxies far away. Artists who captivate the imagination and take us on a journey are really soul pilots, allowing us to discover pockets of beauty in what can be an overwhelming world. Natalee Miller is one such being who moves us into universes slightly askew of our own.

With her dreamy portraits of the zodiac, as well as the Shadow Self tarot deck she’s creating, Natalee is an artist adept at exposing her own dreamy reality, one that’s full of crystal children, foxy mamas, femme fatales, and a kaleidoscope of colors. Creating these pieces also allowed Natalee to discover her own connection to spirituality, acting as a bridge between self-exploration and manifestation. We spoke to her about what it’s like creating a tarot deck, art as a form of healing, and what we can expect from her art in the future.

HelloGiggles: Can you tell us about how you first got into art?

Natalee Miller: I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. My parents saved everything I did, even as a baby. I used to draw images of my mother and I a lot, us holding hands; it was the way I recognized who my family was. I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, so there are a lot of influences from that time that stuck with me. A Ha’s “Take On Me” video still gives me actual chills. I think that’s when I realized I could express the really vibrant fantasy world I lived in.

It’s one thing to draw on paper, but I always found it frustrating to explain the “meaning” of everything. I had all these images, landscapes, people, scenarios in my mind that I could somehow bring to life and it just blew my mind. I would sit and watch The Jungle Book, Fantasia, and Aladdin repeatedly and just study them and sketch for hours. I was legitimately heartbroken when Toy Story came out and the era of hand-drawn animation seemed to die. I’m still really bitter about it honestly.

HG: What inspired you to merge spirituality with your creations?

NM: My teens and 20s were a huge mess of addiction, super unhealthy relationships, and just general recklessness. I had no connection to self or spirit, and there was no room for art in my life anymore. When I got sober two years ago, I found the New Wave tarot deck at this shop and started desperately turning to it for insight as I pulled myself out of my marriage and started rebuilding my life. Around that time, I was pulling the Tower card like crazy and it was actually freaking me out!

I finally just surrendered to the fact that this was really important to me and that it’s okay to connect with something on a spiritual level, which I always used to scoff at. I started drawing again because I needed to fill a void and, one night, I just realized I needed to make a tarot deck.

HG: What has that process of making a tarot deck been like?

NM: This has been so illuminating and informative. Every time I learn one thing, there’s a whole prism of other ideas and theories behind it. I love the tarot project — especially because so much of a reading is based on interpretation. Coming from the other side and actually making the cards gives it an extra depth. It’s like you get to read them on a different level, interpret them from two different perspectives, and let it flow out of your head onto the paper.

To do this properly, I knew I would have to really start learning and be open, so my own understanding and connection has been super strengthened by these projects. I love making friends with other tarot readers and seeing how they approach a spread, or a certain card. Its been a really cool, pure way of connecting to artists, mystics, astrologers, etc. Basically all the kind of people I want in my life!

HG: Can you tell us a little bit about your current projects, like your tarot deck and zodiac series?

NM: Shadow Self has been so fun! I have never really connected with the Rider Waite deck. And when I found the New Wave Tarot (made by an awesome duo here in Chicago), I realized that not only could I do one of these, too, I could use imagery that spoke to me. The Zodiac girls series actually started because people were asking me to interpret their signs visually, so I just decided to do the whole zodiac, which lead to this insatiable astrology frenzy.

It’s kind of an obsessive way to work/learn, but it’s fun. When I was younger I never finished anything, so now I’m all about giving myself parameters and deadlines and taking on a million things and trying to master them all.

HG: Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?

NM: Music is #1. I cannot work in silence, and I can’t just listen to whatever while I work. Before I start a card or any piece, I have a mood and visual map in my mind that needs to be matched by the music. I’ll hear a song and be like, “This SOUNDS like how I’m imagining the The Devil,” and then I’ll have to stop what I’m doing, go home, and listen to it on repeat for 3 hours until the piece is done. There was a lot of Siouxsie Sioux going down for the Major Arcana ladies, especially the High Priestess and The Devil. She’s so dramatic and visual, it just goes hand in hand.

HG: What do you hope people take away from your art?

NM: Feminine power, seduction, addiction, and self-protection are the constant themes in my stuff — whether it’s obvious or not. I’m trying to broaden my horizons in terms of what imagery I use, body types, genders, etc. But I think those will always be major themes no matter who my subject is. I feel like people who are familiar with those things in their own lives can recognize that. I went through a period where I tried to “send a message” and be appealing to everyone, but that wasn’t realistic.

HG: What’s been the most challenging part about working on these series?

NM: Letting go of crippling perfectionism, realizing how much I have to learn, facing my own issues, and realizing I need to face some of this stuff in order to grow as an artist. Getting comfortable with more body-positive imagery forces me to look at my relationship to my own body, and that’s kind of rough sometimes. But it’s also a blessing and an opportunity to work on things.

HG: What’s coming next?

NM: So much! I really love making “things.” I’m making some custom natal charts right now that are really fun. Oracle decks, more tarot decks, Astro portraits! Zodiac calendars! Lots of posters! Murals! I want to go bigger. Anything that forces me to learn and research something and turn it into art!

You can also check out Natalee’s work on May 6th at Pin Up Hair Salon in Dover, NH, with 50% of proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.

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