Colorado has long been a destination for those seeking to explore nature. From the idyllic mountain sunsets to the vast array of verdant foliage, the state abounds in natural beauty. Local creative Josh Miller sees more than just nature though – he sees art.
Here at 303 Magazine, we spoke with Miller about his unique approach to design and how Colorado has impacted him creatively.
Growing Amongst the Trees
Miller grew up straddling the line between Georgia and Tennessee. From a young age, he showed interest in a variety of creative outlets.
“My mom taught us to paint from an early age, I took piano lessons and violin and was an avid reader, so art and creative practices were always part of our world in some form,” he said.
This interest in art sprung up alongside a longing to explore nature. Homeschooled until 10th grade, Miller escaped the routine environment of home by exploring.
After his schoolwork was finished, he’d spend the afternoons in the woods or rocky bluffs around his house. Living on a mountain taught him to appreciate nature.
This appreciation stuck with him and would eventually help him create Josh Miller Ventures.
Miller discovered photography when he eventually attended a communal school. Starting his sophomore year, Miller was a student at Chattanooga Christian High. He began dabbling in black and white photography there and instantly fell in love.
“I could have lived in the studio. I spent hours taking and developing photos, and over time, that became how I see the world – as landscape, panoramic, and long-exposure photos based on the relationship of my body, the camera and the place where I am,” he said.
The threads of Josh Miller Ventures were slowly coming together. Things wouldn’t stay calm for long though.
“I was outed as gay to my parents by a neighbor, and we battled it out in the ensuing year with both the church and school getting involved. Needless to say, their beliefs didn’t align with mine, and at an impasse, I had two choices heading into senior year. Move out and figure it out on my own in Chattanooga, or move to Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my aunt Pam.”
Miller left for Indiana shortly after. He remained there for quite some time, eventually earning his MBA through Indiana University. All the while his appreciation of art, nature and fashion grew.
Coming to Denver
Miller only recently moved to Colorado. He and his husband relocated at the beginning of the summer of 2021, though he’d visited plenty of times prior. During these visits, the unique fashion and creative atmosphere caught his eye.
In particular, Miller noticed the casual freedom to bend stylistic rules. “From what I’ve seen, the style here embraces a more relaxed approach to formal and professional attire, with outdoor apparel and styling playing a larger role,” he said. This is part of what brought Miller to Denver.
Upon relocating, Miller quickly got involved in the local fashion scene.
“The weekend we moved to Denver was during DFW, so I reached out to designers afterward and was able to do a studio visit with Steve Sells who invited me to assist backstage for a fashion show. I’ve already gotten to meet folks from across the industry in Denver which was something I always wanted,” Miller said.
The Denver fashion scene has helped Miller embrace his vision. The diversity and uniqueness of Denver’s creative community encouraged him to experiment and embrace his creativity.
Josh Miller Ventures: Nature, Fashion and Art
Building on this support, Miller creates one-of-a-kind fashion pieces. Through his personal brand Josh Miller Ventures, Miller combines his love of nature, fashion and photography.
His pieces embody both nature and experimentation. With flowing silhouettes featuring images from Colorado’s rivers and landscapes, these pieces blur the lines between photograph and fashion statement.
Leading the way with Josh Miller Ventures, Miller hopes to show the many ways nature lends itself to art. In addition to patterns and colors, he sees a world of inspiration hidden in the landscape.
“The way petals of a flower are clustered and catch the light, the way bridges create fields of negative space and reflect on the water, the way leaves blow in the wind or dance like the glittering leaves of the Aspen tree. You can pull inspiration in terms of cut and layering of fabrics and shapes,” he said.
Miller hopes to show the many ways nature can inspire the creative soul.
In addition to the natural world, the pieces available through Josh Miller Ventures encourage self-expression and authenticity. They break the mold, something Miller hopes to encourage everyone to do.
“There is a level of experimentation and play embedded in (the pieces) that I love – so self-expression, testing out new ways of showing up, challenging traditional silhouettes considered more masculine or feminine are all part of what I want my pieces to enable,” he said.
This commitment to authentic self-expression mirrors Miller’s own journey. For many years, he attempted to fit the norm, presenting in a stereotypically masculine way despite feeling differently.
“Over the past five to six years I’ve actively uncovered the queer parts of myself. I grew my hair out and slowly evolved how I presented to align with what I envisioned and how I wanted to move through the world – a process that will continue in perpetuity as I grow as a human,” he said.
Having embraced a more androgynous presentation himself, Miller hopes his pieces can serve those who seek to do the same.
The Future for Josh Miller
Miller continues to capture Colorado through photography. He plans to continue creating unique pieces moving forward. The emphasis remains on self-expression and originality.
Following his lead, he hopes to see more designers and brands emphasizing inclusivity.
“I’m going to go out of my way to support the person who is exploring the world of possibility. If you show me people like me in your clothes, then it’s a statement that your designs are for people no matter how they identify. I think designers who are taking that approach will reach new markets far more quickly than those who don’t,” Miller said.
Regardless of what the industry does though, Miller will continue providing interesting pieces at the intersection of nature and wearable art. Following the norm has never been his goal anyway.
Updated Nov. 3 2021 to reflect photo location.