Born in Fort Worth, Texas, I am a child of Mexican immigrants. From a young age, I’ve enjoyed creating art—weaving, watercolor, mixed media, and recently acrylic painting. Nonetheless, art had been a sideline to a lifelong career in public health and epidemiology. Now retired, time allows me to paint with purpose and passion.
The story of my parents’ journey to the US has been a point of pride among our family. I wrote a book about their journey from Mexico to Texas and our family’s early years in America. The book, published shortly after my mother’s death in 2019, was edited by a journalist friend. With me not being able to afford her professional services, she bartered her skills for a painting—the subject matter left to me. At the time, my thoughts were on my mother, her life, and our world as youngsters. Experiencing her loss conjured up her kitchen, her endless tasks making tortillas and foods of her native land, her traditional tools to grind the corn—molcajete, the vegetables from her garden, the Navidad tradition of making tamales, and her stove. So, I filled my canvas with these memories—the figure of a young woman doing the work, thereby producing joy in the form of flowers flowing from her skirt.
I’m not a professional painter, strictly amateur, still learning. Still, I was loathed to give up the painting, but a deal was a deal. I normally take a photo of my paintings using my iPhone for my beginning portfolio. But for this painting, I took it to Miller, specifically to Dana, to preserve it in the best image possible. I am grateful to Dana, who made sure that the colors, particularly, the red in the skirt was true to the original painting.
Contact our fine art specialist, Dana Burton, for more information on fine art scans and reproduction.
Angel Chiasson has lived in Austin for most of her life since she was a freshman in high school. Her love of art showed up in early childhood where she would be found (to the shock of her parents) drawing on walls and the underside of tables. Angel would eventually corral that passion into a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art with a Teacher Certification from Southwest Texas State University (Texas State!). Angel taught art for many years in public schools and in her own private studio.
Angel paints a variety of subject matter and is very inspired by nature. Forefront in her art is bold, bright colors and patterns. “Playful art that makes people happy sounds simple, but it means so much to me when I hear from people that viewing and having my art in their home makes them feel happy. From experience, I know well that life can be hard and sometimes sad. I make this art to send out joy!”
“I love exploring new techniques and subject matter, but my love of color has always stayed true. Inspired by the “Fauve” Expressionist movement, I use bright colors and juxtapositions. To me, Color = Happy and I want to reflect the beauty and joy that can be found in this one great life.”
“I pick and choose certain original paintings to be scanned for prints by Dana. Because I use such bright saturated colors in my work, color-matching and clarity is important so that the happy exuberant feeling comes through. Dana has done an amazing job matching my originals and provided incredible professional prints that I can offer my collectors.”
Joseph Valadez is from San Antonio. He went to the University of Texas at Arlington and graduated in 2018 with a Bachelors of Science in Information Systems. Joseph enjoys spending time in the small towns of New Braunfels and Gruene, Texas, where most of his family lives. He moved to Austin in late 2020 to start working as a Systems Analyst.
His time spent out of work consists of running, kayaking, camping, fishing, and many other outdoor activities where most of his inspiration arises. Joseph paints mainly with acrylic and watercolor while also exploring other types of art such as sculpting and ceramics. Joseph says that his most recent and invested painting started when he moved to Austin.
“Gruene Hall at Dusk” took approximately 150 hours, and was completed in March of 2021. “Gruene reminds me of a place where I have shared great times with friends and family. This piece was painted for my daughter which encouraged me to bring out my best work.”
“The prints that Miller IDS provided have portrayed every detail that my original painting has. Dana Burton has kept in direct contact with me during my process of scanning my artwork and made sure that I received the highest quality prints. Dana and her team make this process easy and stress free. I can trust Miller IDS with my artwork and I am looking forward to continuing working together.”
“Ignoring the need to create something would be ignoring who I am at my core. I’ve always leaned toward picking up a pencil or a brush and seeing what happened next. Most of the time I am encouraged by what I make, but it’s always the feeling I have while creating that I return for. That feeling guides my artistic pursuits.”
Hunter Saltzgiver went to Azusa Pacific University and got a degree in fine art. Saltzgiver then taught K-8 Art in his hometown of Colorado Springs for 5 years before moving to Austin in 2016. Saltzgiver always planned on teaching art and never really planned on making his art into a business, but he said, “when you do something everyday that people enjoy, and you run out of wall space in your home, I guess that’s how it goes.”
Now, Saltzgiver does custom commission work on the side of his creative work. He paints animals (mainly dogs and bears) with acrylics, and he also forms relief landscapes with layered gesso that he calls ‘Whitescapes’.
“All of my bear paintings over the last 2 years I have gotten scanned through Miller IDS. These paintings have a lot of color variety, layers of contrasting colors, and I infrequently mute my paint making scans a tough thing to dial in. Dana, at the 7th St. location, has the critical eye to match nearly every scan I’ve thrown at her and those that haven’t she’s been easy to work with on making the adjustments. I keep going back to Miller for their professionality, their performance and their pricing.”
Feel free to reach out and inquire about pricing on Hunter’s creative work you see on Instagram, making a custom bear or ‘Whitescape’, or commissioning any of the common gifts like pet portraits and wedding gifts.
Having grown up in Monroe, Louisiana, CoCo Zentner’s artwork stems from her many days spent soaking in the culture, food, and nature of her southern surroundings. The vibrant atmosphere of her upbringing contributes to her heavy use of color, which plays a significant role in her art.
CoCo is constantly seeking to bring light and beauty to often-overlooked subjects, reflecting a detail and depth resonating with many collectors and designers alike. She paints primarily in oil and watercolor while also exploring different mediums such as oil pastels and charcoal.
“I have loved working with Miller IDS & Dana over the past few years. They are able to replicate my artwork precisely each time and always in a timely manner. As an artist, it has been a joy to see my work come to life in a different form all due to the Miller team.”
Ally Aiken is a watercolor artist & graphic designer. She went to the University of Texas and graduated in 2018 – she loved Austin so much that she decided to stay! Ally likes to paint & design all sorts of things but her most recent endeavor has revolved around golf.
One of Ally’s favorite paintings is the one that started it all! Her first golf course painting was the Royal Wellington Golf Club in New Zealand, which she painted for her boyfriend, Campbell, making it very special to her. Campbell lived in New Zealand for six months to work as a golf pro at the club. She said he is fond of his time in Wellington and wanted a way to commemorate it. He asked Ally if she could paint something related to the course that he could frame in his room, which started her whole business. Ally said she was overwhelmed with support when she posted a picture of the course she made for her boyfriend, and things really took off from there.
Another special course she has painted is of Ojai, California. Ally said she was at the post office during Christmas time, packaging prints to send to people as gifts, when a man saw her work and ordered a custom piece as an anniversary gift for his wife on the spot. There is a small oak tree painting on the course, symbolizing the spot they got married.
“I paint custom course maps of golf courses all over the world and make them into digital art prints, which is where Miller IDS has been a lifesaver! Working with Dana & the rest of the team at Miller has made my life stress free when it comes to getting beautiful prints of my work. I am so thankful for the work they do and am excited to continue to work together.”
Tommy Belton is a native Austinite, growing up in East and South Austin. Photography was always a creative outlet Belton was interested in pursuing, and 5 years ago, he borrowed his mom’s DSLR camera and learned to use it watching YouTube videos. Soon after, Belton bought his own camera and has been pursuing photography ever since.
“I have a deep love for this city, so I decided to start a Photography Project called ‘This Is Austin’ where I photograph iconic Austin businesses, public spaces, restaurants, music venues, etc. that make Austin ‘Austin’.”
“Since day one, Miller Imaging and Digital Solutions has been my printing partner. Dana Burton, in the Fine Art Department, has been so great to work with. She is always incredibly responsive and offers great ideas to make sure my clients get prints they will be happy with. I can’t say enough good things about Dana and the team at Miller.”
Jessica grew up outside of Houston but is a Louisiana-native. She is a Texan with a deep love and nostalgia for Cajun life, like homemade gumbo and zydeco music. Jessica went to college at Texas Tech, and always knew Austin was where she would end up. She got a graphic design degree, moved to Austin, and worked for agencies as a designer.
Jessica always made art on the side, as a way to explore her creativity away from the computer and clients. She began a drawing project in 2016 of drawing a building every day for a full year, 365 buildings. They were mostly of Austin and chronicled the changing landscape of the city as it gentrified through the 2010s. A fair amount of the drawings are buildings that have since been torn down and businesses that closed. This year-long project helped Jessica develop her style and led her to her career as an illustrator. “One of the big reasons I love drawing buildings and places is how it’s an anchor for our memories. We all hold stories of places from our past inside ourselves, and we all have different relationships to the same place. When I look at buildings, I wonder about who loves this place, who worked here for years, who met a partner or a friend here, etc.”
“When businesses here in Austin began closing soon after the pandemic started, I dreamt of making a piece dedicated to these places. But I was beaten down by the pandemic myself, so I let the idea go. Then as 2020 came to a close, I saw the New York Magazine cover dedicated to 500+ closed NYC businesses and a voice popped up, ‘Jessica, you are the person to do this for Austin. It is literally your job to make this. Do it.’ So, I relinquished and began.”
Jessica drew 28 businesses, for her “What We’ve Lost” series, ranging from the youngest of 5 years (Barracuda) to the oldest of 87 years (Threadgill’s). The original art is large at 28×40″, and she shrunk the work down to 18×24″ for the print edition. “I wanted to capture a slice of Austin’s history from the last few decades and memorialize some of the businesses that made Austin, Austin.”
“Miller was a delight to work with. Easy and helpful. I talked with Dana, who connected me to Jacy to complete the job. One of the memories of working with y’all that will always stick with me, is when I went to pick up my order, and the man who brought the posters out said, “You made everybody here cry real tears!” And we had a really nice conversation about the artwork and our changing city, with a lot of laughs and heart-warming smiles. Thank you, Miller!”
We can now print promotional items such as pens, coffee mugs, face masks, and more!
We are always looking for unique jobs we have done to share with our customers, and this is definitely one of those. This really unique opportunity presented itself when sports nutrition company, Nutrabolt (C4), reached out to us to produce challenge coins to grow their military presence.
Traditionally, a challenge coin is a small coin or specially cut medallion, with an organization’s insignia or emblem pressed or embossed into it. The challenge coin is carried by the organization’s members, or put on display. They can also be collected by service members and law enforcement personnel. Historically, challenge coins were presented by unit commanders in recognition of special achievement by a member of the unit.
Nutrabolt wanted a way to create brand awareness and brand recognition on military bases, and decided to lean into military traditions in order to do so in a special and memorable way.
Nutrabolt is getting ready to roll out their C4 yellow cans in the military through their beverage distributors. The idea of creating a challenge coin came from one of their distributors who covers several military bases. They plan to present the coins to distributor sales teams covering the bases, as well as store management on-base. The challenge coins will be used for displays, incremental placements, and as a tool for brand recognition that falls in-line with military customs.
We love getting to work on special projects like this one, and really appreciate when customers come to us with creative ideas we get to help bring to reality!
Sarah Wilson is an Austin-raised photographer and cinematographer. Her passion for photography and storytelling was born here, at Austin High. Sarah pursued a classical photography education at NYU’s Tisch School and remained in New York City throughout her twenties. She started as an intern and assistant for some of her photography heroes, including Mary Ellen Mark, Ken Schles, Robert Clark, and James Evans before creating her own body of work.
Since 2000, Sarah has worked professionally, balancing personal projects, documentary films and editorial assignments. She has worked for The New York Times Magazine, Time, The Atlantic, Mother Jones, Texas Monthly, and others. Her work has been acquired by the Harry Ransom Center and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Sarah is also teaching Expressive Photography at ACC’s Department of Professional Photography, encouraging students to pursue personal projects, alongside their commercial work.
As a documentary filmmaker Sarah has served as Director of Photography and Producer, working alongside her husband, Director Keith Maitland, on the films, TOWER, an animated retelling of the 1966 UT Tower shooting, and A SONG FOR YOU: The Austin City Limits Story. Both films premiered at SXSW in 2016. TOWER received three SXSW awards, a Critics Choice Award, and the Emmy for Best Historical Documentary. Their newest documentary, DEAR MR. BRODY, was set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival—but both were cancelled due to COVID-19. Sarah said, “We are excited that the film was featured at the SXSW virtual film festival last week.”
“I like to photograph people- I love telling stories…but I also like to be in the lonely West Texas desert, photographing in the stark landscape.”
What pulled you to honor and highlight these women essential workers?
As the pandemic set in and our community was asked to shelter in place, I quarantined with my immediate family. As a photographer, my work was not deemed essential, but something about the word ‘essential’ really spoke to me. I became especially grateful for the workers that were keeping our community safe and moving forward. I started to think about the women workers, many of whom were juggling responsibilities at home, while facing this public health crisis due to their ‘essential’ work. Inspired by these women, I felt an overwhelming need to recognize their courage, so I started taking portraits of essential women workers in Austin, on location, outside, at their workplace. As the body of work started to expand, I decided to submit the work to the City of Austin Museums and Cultural Programs grant, called ArtsResponders: Social Practice Responds to COVID-19. I was excited that the project was selected, but that was just the beginning.
How did you find these specific women to photograph?
In partnership with the Dougherty Arts Center and ArtsResponders, we put out a call for entries for people in the Austin area to nominate the essential women workers in their lives. We chose 15 honorees to photograph out of over 100 nominations, and instead of having an indoor gallery show, we decided to present the work as large-scale wheat-pasted portraits on the sides of participating buildings throughout Austin.
Any plans to do another project in this same style?
I think I caught the wheat paste bug! Now I feel like everything has to be big and public!
How did you decide on wheat paste?
With the ArtsResponders grant, I needed to keep my budget low, while at the same time creating a public art exhibition. Weatherproof photographic materials can be very expensive to print, and just as expensive to install. While brainstorming presentation solutions with Annie, my rep at the Dougherty Arts Center, we came up with the idea of wheat-pasted portraits. I was definitely inspired by the artist JR, and his large-scale wheat paste installations. I decided we needed some large-scale portraits of women workers here in Austin!
What has the feedback been like on the photographs?
We’ve had a very positive response to the work, through the local news media, on Instagram, and word of mouth. Yesterday on Instagram, I saw that a nurse had taken a photo of herself next to the large-scale portrait of an ICU nurse. In the comments, she said that seeing these 19ft tall portraits made her feel that her hard work on the frontline was also being recognized. This is what I intended- that each of these portraits would come to represent the thousands of women in our community who have worked so hard to keep our community safe and moving forward. This project is a big thank you!
How did you choose Miller to print the photos?
I chose Miller because I’ve been a customer on and off over the years, and the location was very convenient for me. I did some research and found out that Miller could print 36” x 48” on a lighter weight paper, which works well for wheat paste. After the first round of test prints, I learned that Miller has very quick turnaround times, and has a super-friendly staff. It’s a treat when Larry brings my order out to the parking lot…what a nice guy!
Anything else you want to add?
Another exciting aspect of the project is the Instagram site, @essentialsatx. We not only feature photos of the large-scale portrait installations, but we also post the images and stories of all the nominees even those that weren’t selected. It’s starting to become a great online community and a way to honor these awesome women.
Dell Children’s Medical Center has a new addition – a Heroes’ Exit! Ready for a great story? You may have heard of Owen Coulter, a 5 year old boy who went to Dell Children’s Medical in December of 2019 and had a miraculous journey that included a life-saving experience by staff upon his arrival. Owen’s father is a firefighter in Austin. As Owen left the hospital after a 56 day stay, there was a “superhero” departure celebration with dozens of firefighters, police officers, 18 fire trucks, balloons, t-shirts, and even a few costumed super-heroes. The experience was wonderful for everyone there, but especially the hero being celebrated, Owen.
Days later a Dell Medical Children’s Medical Center Foundation board member dropped by the office of Susan Hewlitt (executive director of the foundation). The board member, Marcella Maxwell (who also works at Dell Children’s) said that she couldn’t stop thinking about the wonderful exit Owen had. “How can we have every child feel like a hero when they leave?” she thought out loud. They quickly began brainstorming and walking the hospital for ideas.
At the entryway of the hospital is the HEB Auditorium, which happens to be a perfect passageway and private exit for the kids. Susan immediately went to this spot and an idea came to her for a “hero’s exit” – what if they had a mural here and kids could take pictures as they were released to go home? The idea was positively received by the foundation board, and Susan could not have been more pleased with their unanimous agreement to support the project. The next question was who the artist would be – Susan knew that Becca Borrelli would be perfect!
Becca had designed a coloring book for the kids at Dell Children’s. Becca is an illustrator and has a background in teaching. For Becca this was the perfect project- it combined her love of children with her passion for design. Becca began to weave a compilation of happy imagery from areas in the hospital, making the final memories in the hospital a way to remember Dell Children’s in a positive way.
The final product is a brightly colored mural printed on DreamScape wallpaper. Images include a StarFlight helicopter, the stone water wall from the courtyard, a replication of the donor butterfly wall, and spotlights on art found in the hospital such as the art by Graciela Boulanger gracing the bridge in the lobby as well as the blue dog featured in a George Rodrigue piece found in the hospital.
Becca contacted Miller after having printed with us before. The experience was pleasant for Becca and it was easy to communicate with Destenie (Customer Sales and Service Rep) from the beginning. Becca had been contracted to paint the mural on the wall, but had worked with DreamScape in another hospital setting and knew that it holds up to cleaning and is long-lasting. “DreamScape was the perfect solution we didn’t know we needed, especially with how clean we have to keep it,” said Susan Hewitt.
As the final joyful touch to this fulfilling project, note that it was accomplished during COVID! Installing the piece during this difficult time made it an even happier win!
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