ANJA MILLEN: the Deep Cuts Interview

When we three editors (Angel, E, and Chris) started looking around for an artist to do the cover, we spent hours and hours looking at images, websites, and book covers. We appealed to the many writers and artists we know for suggestions, and we did an indecently thorough frisking of DeviantArt.

We had many choices we liked, but then we found Anja Millen, an artist from Germany, and her work blew us away. It is horrific and evocative. It had all the qualities we wanted.

Then, came the hard part: choosing which of her many amazing pieces we wanted to use.

So, we mocked up 15 covers, and we voted. Using a complex rating system, we managed to find the perfect piece that we all agreed was the one for us.

Contacting Anja proved delightful. Not only is she extremely nice, but she’s a gamer! Angel and she hit it off right away. Anja has done video game concept art before and is an avid MMOG player. She had already preordered her copy of Guild Wars 2 (the game Angel works on) and is currently playing in the beta!

As it turns out, she is quite perfect after all! We love her, and we know you will too. Please take a few minutes to peruse her art and drop her a note if you like it!

We asked Anja to answer a few questions, and although English is a second language for her (German being her first), she graciously agreed!

The Interview

What has been the most fulfilling experience you’ve had in your career?

The moment I installed the first graphic software on my computer. 15 years ago. From that moment on, I started to manipulate, paint, and create images on the computer. Still learning and discovering new ways.

For me, a whole new world was born. There is no “undo” in traditional art like oil paintings, and that is the big advantage of photoshop and digital art, you are able to go back in time and change your first steps on an artwork without starting completely over.

I’m still fascinated and happy for having this tool of the trade.

Does your art reflect who you are as a person? In what way?

As I read your question, my first reaction was: No, it doesn’t reflect me as person. But, I cannot separate my art from me. It’s me. It comes from me, and it won’t exist without me.

So yes, it’s kind of a mirror of all the pictures in my mind, all my dark and not-so-dark dreams. They’re not a 1:1 reflection of what I feel, but in every one of my artworks, there’s this little drop of my blood.

What does the label “horror” mean to you?

Horror? There was a period in my life when I truly was addicted to any kind of horror movie and books. It lasted for 9 months. 🙂 It was the time when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I couldn’t stop watching horror movies and reading and eating mandarines.

After she was born, I stopped that consumption (by the way–there were no movies left for me to rent, I’d watched them all). Still today, I love good horror. I love the unexpected moments, the big change at the end. I love reading horror, and a little noise in my room will make me scream because I fall so deep in the story that I’m part of it.

Horror is not necessarily splatter, blood, and zombies all over the place; it is more the psycho thing, like in the Saw movies.

If you had it all to do over again, what would you do differently?

Most people answer this question with: Nothing, I wouldn’t change a thing. But not me. I would change everything.

Hey, I mean, I’m getting a second life, something completely new. Why should I do the same stuff again, what I already know? So, I would take that chance and would discover a whole new life.

Have you ever created a piece of art that surprised you by how disturbing it was?

No, but I often noticed how disturbed people were looking at my artworks, and what they saw and how they interpreted it.

Where do your ideas for an image come from?

I’m inspired by everything. Noises, odours, nature, streetlife, friends, reading, watching tv and so on and so on…really everything. It’s like my brain conserves all those impressions, mixes them up, and I start a new piece. (Mostly at night.)

Tell us about your latest project and what it means to you.

I’ve started to do some traditional art. Colorful pieces on canvas or heavy paper. Aquarelle/watercolors mixed with ink and acrylic. I’m very excited, and I have to learn alot, as I said there is no “undo,” and that is giving me a hard time, but I still do my daily portion of digital art.

What advice would you give to others who want to achieve the level of success that you have?

I can’t give any advice about something I haven’t achieved. To be successful in art means: stop dreaming (sad to say, but it is like it is) about being famous or being able to make a life of it. That won’t work for most of us.

To be able to express yourself in artworks is the highest level of success you can reach. Everything else, like being printed or having exhibitions or selling artworks is a combination of a lot of luck, connections, and hard work.

Ok, about the “stop dreaming” part, it’s the hardest–I’m still dreaming 🙂


Born somewhere at the end of the world, so-called Germany, Anja spent her entire youth there, followed by some years as a cook in France.

In 1984, Anja started to visualize her own world in paintings and sketches. Strange, monstrous, nifty, and sometimes beautiful.

“I consider myself an artist, writer and hermit.”

After visiting the European Academy of Art, the school of design and art, she discovered the wonderful, unlimited world of digital art in 1998.

For a few years, she has banned the demons in her head also with photography—still learning, still going crazy from all those surreal fantasies in her mind.

Anja is currently living in a cave, on top of the highest mountain, scratching little stick men in the wall, and thinking of publishing a volume of photographs or an illustrated book.

“The world in my eyes seems to be a remix between zombies and aliens. I’m definitly not a zombie.”

Her art is shown and featured in different virtual galleries. She is currently working with musicians creating their CD cover art.

Anja made MMORPG concept arts and character studies for the RPG genre and is looking forward to creating book covers for fantasy novels.

Book: Woven – 2011

Exhibitions:

  • The Art of Shibari –  Saarbrücken (Germany) Nov 2008 – March 2009.
  • Carnival of Darkness Festival – Los Angeles (US)  August 2009

CD Cover Artwork:

  • Plankton Waves – Unduriel 2010
  • Synus –  Call to the Faithful 2010

Book Cover Art:

  • Polygonum Verlag – Renate ist Fett 2010
  • Polygonum Verlag – Die Tagebücher des Nichts 2010

“One of the most underrated, unsung artists I know  is Anja Millen. For more than two years now, I’ve been amazed at her work. She plays dual roles of photographer and photomanipulator- sometimes she is her own subject. Her work is stunning in it’s visual and emotional depth. Anja’s artistic tongue speaks loudly and uncensored.” ~ Andrew Bryon Carson

“Your gallery is really magnificent. Your works are filled with raw emotion and expressiveness, so detailed and delicious that it’s a joy to the heart, not only the eyes.” ~ Omri J. Luzon

“She must be from somewhere else beyond imagination.” ~Serdar Petin

“Sie kotzt Kunst” ~Unknown

Visit Anja’s Facebook page to see more of her evocative and amazing work.

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