Printmakers You Should Know: George C. Miller

Usually on Printmakers You Should Know I focus on artists. Today, however, I'm going to introduce you to a lithographer who specialized in printing the works of other artists, and helped increase the accessibility of lithography as a medium in the United States: George C. Miller (1894-1965).

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Ellison Hoover, George C. Miller, Lithographer, 1949, lithograph. Image courtesy of
George Miller was based in New York. His family was involved in commercial printing, and he himself started apprenticing when he was fifteen. Miller started printing for artists around 1917, when an artist named Albert Sterner approached him at the recommendation of a mutual acquaintance. This acquaintance happened to be a co-owner of the American Lithographic Company, where Miller had completed his apprenticeship.

Miller soon realized that there was a high demand among artists for master printers. While there were plenty of lithography shops around at the time, most of them didn't see the commercial value of printing for artists, due to the small size of the editions and the amount of time and effort required to create them. Miller, however, recognized an opportunity, and soon began printing exclusively for artists, becoming one of only a handful of printers in the country at that time to do so. It wasn't always financially easy, sometimes he had to take on other jobs such as teaching to make ends meet, but even in the most difficult of times Miller found a way to make it work.

Unlike Bolton Brown, another master lithographer who was an artist as well as printer, Miller thought of himself primarily as a craftsperson. His job was to take an artist's idea and make it a lithographic reality, regardless of how he personally felt about the aesthetics of the work. As a result, Miller worked with a variety of artists, though the crisp, clear style of Precisionism seemed to especially appeal to his working method.

Since there were so few master printers willing to print for artists at the time, Miller worked with some big names in the art world, including Rockwell Kent, with whom he also became good friends.

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Rockwell Kent, Solar Flare-Up, from the series End of the World, 1937, lithograph. Image courtesy of

Another artist who collaborated with Miller on a regular basis was Louis Lozowick, who was greatly influenced by Russian Constructivism during the early part of his own career. This print was actually featured in an RMAC show last year, Giving a Good Impression.

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Louis Lozowick, Hanover Square, 1929, lithograph. Image courtesy of

Howard Cook also worked with Miller, especially when he was working on more streamlined, urban subjects such as his New York scenes. Cook held the printer in very high esteem.
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Howard Cook, George Washington Bridge with B, 1931, lithograph. Image courtesy of

Mabel Dwight achieved acclaim for her sympathetic, often humorous portrayals of human society.
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Mabel Dwight, In the Crowd, 1931, lithograph on paper. Image courtesy of

These are just a handful of artists who worked with Miller at one point or another during their careers. You may not find George Miller's signature on any of these works, but when it comes to the world of American printmaking, and specifically early 20th-century lithography, chances are you've seen his hand. In the era before Tamarind and the other great artist-lithography workshops, Miller was one of the key players in helping artists achieve their lithographic voice.

Want to learn more? What I'd recommend is finding the book American Lithographers, 1900-1960: The Artists and Their Printers, by Clinton Adams, printmaker, historian, and co-founder of Tamarind Institute. This volume provides a great overview of American lithography during the first half of the twentieth century. It discusses Miller, Brown, and the other major printers working for artists during this time period.