Steve Miles

Originally from Warley in the West Midlands, I moved to the Isle of Wight in 1994 and worked as a Graphic Designer for various Island companies, and currently work for Stainless Games Ltd. as a Graphic Designer and Artist on videogames.

I began painting graffiti in the early 1980s under the tag Toxic363. At an early age (around 11), I was introduced to what was, at the time, a little known cultural phenomenon from the States called “Hip Hop”. My next door neighbour had an American cousin who came to visit one summer. He was a great break-dancer, and brought with him a magazine about Hip Hop that featured the now legendary Rock Steady Crew. I was not much good at the Breaking but I was intrigued by the Graffiti section of the article that featured the Bronx “writer” Brim (who later visited the UK and painted and exhibited quite regularly here). I was really into drawing so I started to get in to the Graff, practicing my own letters every day at school and often into the early hours of the morning at home… I was hooked like some kind of Alphabet junkie!

I spent my teenage years painting Graffiti, and was in various Crews over the years, but the one I have stuck with is TIC (the Imperial Creations). I still catch up with some of the members from time to time.

After leaving school in 1989, I worked for various companies in the print industry and learned the traditional industry processes at the time – pasting up artwork, making colour separations, working out type scales, leading and line lengths to input into the typesetting machine, etc. – all of which now sound like processes from ancient history, following the advent of the digital print revolution that took place not very many years later. It was a largely technical industry, which only marginally tallied with my real love – painting graffiti and making art.

So, I decided to take my artwork more seriously and get into Graphic Design as a career, and in 1992 enrolled in a general art and design course at Stourbridge Art College.

In 1994 I moved to Freshwater on the Isle of Wight with my wife Rachael, and landed myself a job in a local design agency where I quickly learned the industry had changed fast, and that software knowledge was now the staple for any new designer in the 90s. I was introduced to the world of Illustrator, Photoshop et al, and how they had revolutionised the design business. Later, armed with my accumulated knowledge of imaging software, I moved from graphic design to videogame design, and now work in this cutting edge creative industry.

All of this previous experience helped to direct my own, personal creative thoughts, which I also felt strongly that I needed to continue to express when time and space allowed.

In 2010, I was able to establish a permanent studio space at home, and had the opportunity for a fresh start on pursuing my own creative impulses. I proceeded to experiment with different styles and approaches to my painting. Improvising, experimenting and progressing my work from the wall to canvas, I have spent the last four years working towards my current way of expressing my creative thoughts, which I have come to call “UrbanDistress”.