Seattle Now & Then: Here’s to designer David Miller

(Click and click again to enlarge layouts)

The David Miller-designed “Now & Then” column, May 1, 2022.
The David Miller-designed “Now & Then” column, Oct. 17, 2021.
The David Miller-designed “Now & Then” column, Aug. 28, 2022.

Published in The Seattle Times online on Dec. 15, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Dec. 20, 2022

Like a visit from Father Christmas every Tuesday night

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” — John Keats

By Clay Eals and Jean Sherrard

To write a column with accompanying photos is one thing. To see all the elements juxtaposed for print is quite another.

For us, receiving David Miller’s proofs for our forthcoming “Now & Then” columns in The Seattle Times was like receiving a cherished Christmas gift every week of the year.

Each Tuesday, a proof arrived as early as 8 p.m., but more typically after midnight. His creations were so expertly crafted that both of us often stayed up to view the magic as soon as possible.

Our responses usually centered on fine-tuning text or captions, but we also sought to salute the visual splendor David had wrought. His work so consistently and effectively showcased our work that we embraced a delicious challenge: finding new phrases with which to thank him. A sampling:

  • Jean: “Remember that feeling you’d get cracking open the Sunday paper and digging out the funny papers? … I’ve pretty much lost that sense of wonder and anticipation, except when I receive an original David Miller!” (For a column on the downtown waterfront.)
  • Clay: “With apologies to John Lennon, ‘All You Need is David.’ You did an unbelievably perfect job with this layout. … From Me to You, I Feel Fine.” (For a column on the Beatles in Seattle.)
  • Jean: “Dagnabbit, David! Now you’ve done it. I’m going to have to teach this morning without socks, because you’ve knocked them right off!” (For a column on Eagle Falls.)
  • Clay: “This looks beautiful, especially given your vertical emphasis. It’s as if the spread were a retaining wall for the magazine itself.” (For a column on Queen Anne’s Wilcox Walls.)

From his end, David communicated with warmth, cleverness and humility. Samples:

  • “I love this one. We’ll make the horizontals work. No trubble at all. … When La Push comes to La Shove, your [photos] are still way better than mine.” (For Jean’s Olympic Peninsula columns.)
  • “As a Kansas native, I appreciated the ruby slippers.” (For a “no place like home” column on Clay’s grandparents’ former house.)
  • “You’re probably giving me too much credit for creativity and subtlety. … It could be that I was subliminally directed by the shape and didn’t even know it!” (For a Virginia V column for which David initially had fashioned a V-shaped headline.)
  • Finally, “Thanks for all the nice compliments. I’m not sure I deserve ANY of them,” and, “Some days, I go whole minutes between screwups.”

We also are grateful that David voted with his feet on our behalf, choosing to break bread with a jolly group at Ivar’s Salmon House to celebrate column founder Paul Dorpat’s 81st birthday in 2019.

Suffice to say, we will continue to honor — and miss — David Miller more than just “now and then.”

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Here’s to designer David Miller”

  1. I’m glad to learn about the man behind these designs, and saddened to hear of his untimely passing.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.