Art that counts at KC Comic Con

Brandi+Miller%2C+owner+of+the+online+business+Dorky+Dino+and+UCM+alumna%2C+works+on+a+watercolor+painting+at+her+booth+during+the+Kansas+City+Comic+Con.+Her+friend%2C+Andi+Dieckman%2C+an+academic+adviser+in+the+College+of+Health%2C+Science+and+Technology%2C+holds+up+a+cellphone+with+a+picture+of+a+horse+for+reference.

Brandi Miller, owner of the online business Dorky Dino and UCM alumna, works on a watercolor painting at her booth during the Kansas City Comic Con. Her friend, Andi Dieckman, an academic adviser in the College of Health, Science and Technology, holds up a cellphone with a picture of a horse for reference.

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Brandi Miller, owner of the online business Dorky Dino and UCM alumna, works on a watercolor painting Saturday at her booth during the Kansas City Comic Con. Her friend, Andi Dieckman, an academic adviser in the College of Health, Science and Technology, holds up a cellphone with a picture of a horse for reference.
Brandi Miller, owner of the online business Dorky Dino and UCM alumna, works on a watercolor painting Saturday at her booth during the Kansas City Comic Con. Her friend, Andi Dieckman, an academic adviser in the College of Health, Science and Technology, holds up a cellphone with a picture of a horse for reference.

By STEVEN SPEARS

News Editor

(KANSAS CITY, Mo., digitalBURG) — At 7 years old, Brandi Miller was already a working artist.

As many do when first breaking into the business, Miller peddled her merchandise on the street. She quickly attracted the attention of a savvy collector who bought a sketch without hesitation – obviously seeing something in the young artist’s work.

It was mere coincidence that the buyer happened to be Miller’s grandmother.

“So I didn’t feel like it counted,” Miller said.

Miller, a University of Central Missouri alumna, has since made many sales deserving of being “counted.”

“I always knew that art was kind of a hard field because you can’t – you know – it’s harder to sell art – not everyone needs it,” she said.

Miller said she turned to graphic design as a career path to supplement her passion for art.

“(Graphic design is) very artistic but, at the same time, you can make a career out of it,” she said. “Because everyone needs it.”

Miller said she tries to explore new styles of art whenever she can, and doesn’t limit herself to one skillset. In addition to graphic design, she does photography, painting, drawing and sculpting.

“I get bored just doing one thing all the time so I switch it up a lot,” Miller said. “Then I realized with graphic design I can make characters.”

Miller said she took the characters she made using her design skills and developed them into products. This allowed her to combine the best of both worlds: graphic design and art.

In 2011, as part of her final honors project, Miller founded Dorky Dino – an online store that sells art and accessories. She said the project gave her the opportunity to launch the business she had already envisioned.

“I had already kind of been thinking about how I wanted to start my own business – like making cute characters and making them into different products,” Miller said. “For my project, I made my first few designs – I made some necklaces and key chains and charms. And that was my honors project, the whole start of the business.”

Andi Dieckman, an academic adviser in the College of Health, Science and Technology, discovered Miller’s artwork while attending UCM and now helps with the business aspects of Dorky Dino.

“I love that Brandi’s personality comes out in all of her artwork,” Dieckman said. “It’s just so cute and so fun and it just makes you smile. Like almost no matter who you are you just want to smile when you see it because it’s so fun.”

Dorky Dino has since become a frequent presence at comic book conventions. Miller has sold her work at multiple Comic Cons in the short time her business has been open. She has been to Planet Comic Con, Vision Con, the Gaming Arts Media Expo and – most recently – Kansas City Comic Con.

Miller said one of the great things about being a guest artist at Comic Cons is the opportunity to network with other artists.

“I love getting to talk to other artists and you really find a lot of connections,” she said.

Miller said the two biggest keys to success in the art world are networking and utilizing social media.

“It’s awesome that we’re in this age that we can promote ourselves,” Miller said. “Back before there was Internet and all these social media sites, it was really hard to get your stuff out there. Now you can just post it everywhere and people will just find it.”

Miller said she uses the Internet to discover new artists and get inspired.

“I’m always getting new influences,” she said. “It kind of changes as I get older. I’m always looking online at different artists and everything and kind of just soaking everything up.”