Navot Miller on His Todd Snyder Collection for Visual Aids

Navot Miller on His Todd Snyder Collection for Visual Aids

by Adam Eli
May 31, 2024

Navot Miller possesses the same bountiful energy and joy as his paintings. The Berlin-based artist’s work reflects moments and memories from his own life, but in technicolor. As he travels the world, Miller is constantly taking photos looking for moments of intimacy and human connection. “I am searching for the in-between moments that occur among friends, strangers and lovers,” he says.

Coming off a solo show at Carl Freedman Gallery in Margate, Miller has collaborated with menswear brand Todd Snyder on a variety of pieces, with 100% of the proceeds going to Visual Aids. The collection will launch with a party in Fire Island Pines, which is appropriate considering how much of Miller’s work is set in places traditionally associated with queerness, community, creativity and the beach.

Ahead of the launch, Miller spoke about his sense of color, and the importance of comradely in art and in life, below.

Navot Miller: It’s all happening in a New York Minute! It's boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. It goes fast. I like it. I enjoy the contrast between Berlin and New York. Berlin is slightly more laid back and New York is busy, busy, busy, and I like that aspect of things getting done. It echoes a little bit of me, my chutzpah. Like, let's get this moving.

Adam Eli: One of the defining features of your work is your use and sense of color. Can you tell us a little bit about the importance and implementation of color in your work?

Navot: I find that the language of color is very inviting. Color invites people to look, to engage and even touch. I enjoy that people may first be drawn to my work because of the colors, which may lead to them seeing something else, something positive, something happy. But I also use color to show moments that aren't so happy, that aren't so positive, like a heartache or someone having a fight. For me, color invites in the viewer and then they see what they see and feel how they feel.

Adam: You are about to go to Fire Island and you just got back from Palm Springs. A throughline of your work seems to be places that are historically associated with queerness, creativity and leisure, what some folks may call gay destinations or gay resort towns. Can you talk about your proclivity to these spaces and how they inform your work?

Navot: I am 33 and I have lived in Berlin for 10 years. I feel as though I have been sculpted by the city, the individuals I’ve met there and the experiences that have happened to me there. Berlin is a big hub for queer travelers and people are always telling me about these places like Palm Springs, Zipolite and Fire Island. I’m curious and I enjoy experiencing these places, but I don’t go explicitly for work. I don’t go looking for inspiration, but I’m curious and excited to travel there. This is especially true of Fire Island because of its history and the passion people have for it.

Adam: Do you think that there's something aesthetically that draws you to these places?

Navot: What you see in my work is a result of my life. When I travel, I meet strangers. Sometimes online, then in person or sometimes by chance in person. These meetings are what leads to the moments that I show in my work. I don't go to Palm Springs because I want Palm Springs to be my work. If I meet someone and they're in my thoughts, we shared a nice moment, they may very well appear in my work.

I also like to go to places that have water sources because I like the beach and I like to swim. The beach, pools and water are wonderful places to find and explore romance, nudity, connection, friendship, and those are things that are important to me and are often reflected in my work.

Adam: So for example, in your Todd Snyder collection, there's a tote bag, and the image on that tote bag is from a trip to Zipolite. Can you talk about your experience there and the image that we see on the bag?

Navot: In 2021 I was in Mexico City for Christmas and on a whim we decided to go to Zipolite for New Years. For me, it was a totally incredible experience. But I had been traveling for a long time and for a few of the days I was feeling low, insecure. So in the evening I choose to stay by the pool at my hotel instead of the beach where more of the action was.

Two days before I left, a gay couple arrived and they were just so beautiful to me. We were all sitting by the pool and started chatting. One was from LA and the other from Texas, I think. There was something very sweet about the time we shared together, so I snapped a photo. I spoke to them about why I was feeling low. Sharing my vulnerability with them created a real sense of comradery, you know? When I came back to Berlin I said, “Okay, these two individuals are so lovely. I would love to paint them.” That's it.

Adam: The towel, which is my favorite piece in the collection, has a similar origin story. Can you tell us about the painting on the towel?

Navot: Yes. French Boys in Deia, that is the title of this work. Deia is a beach in Majorca and when I went, I noticed this group of French boys and there was something very sweet about their communal sense and the cohesiveness of their group. They were very much having a good time with each other, laughing, eating and drinking together. And again, as an observer, I was sitting next to them and it felt very comfortable to share the beach with them because they were exhibiting something that I desire, something that I appreciate in having friends and a type of a community.

At some point while we were at the beach, we started talking to each other. They were significantly younger than me, in their early twenties. I was moved by their togetherness, I snapped a photo and painted it once I got back to my studio in Berlin.

The towel itself shows this moment of friendship and support. And these are moments that I feel enhance my life. These moments of connection I enjoy very much and I try to depict in my work. I hope that the towel will give space for other people to get together. Or let's say you're using the towel when you're alone and then you meet someone on the beach and you can invite them to be with you. It goes further than just using this towel. It is about support, friendship, community and comradery, so I hope that at least some items from this collection can be used for this purpose.

Adam: What are some other queer artists or creatives that you're looking at, that you think other people should be looking at?

Navot: There is an artist named Adam Fearon, who lives in Berlin. He used to work in other mediums and I think started painting quite recently. His paintings are meticulously done and beautiful. I think he's quite interesting. I love the way he portrays his friends on his couch. Beautiful.

Photos courtesy of Todd Snyder