Hey everyone, my name is Mia. I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. I’m a 25-year-old animator, cartoonist, and painter.
When did you first start getting involved with art?
Fresh out the womb. Art is pretty much all I know. My Mom is an artist and my Dad works in marketing. Although he’s not in art, he’s my champion for everything art related. My grandmother is also a pianist and I’ve played piano since I was five. I’ve always done things that are pretty artsy. People would always tell me if I’m going to make art my thing, then I’m going to have to be really dedicated to it. I realized Art was the only thing I was good at so I figured I might as well pursue it.
Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?
I think two things really influence my thinking. 1) The unknown. I’m really into space. 2) Death or the afterlife. That’s a theme I carry throughout my art. Space and death really intrigue me. Nobody really knows what the fuck happens. People are so sure about everything, besides science and death.
Was the East Room coloring book what led to Unwonderful World?
Yes. Oh my god, yes. I wanted to create a birthday gift for my best friend. Majority of the crazy shit I’ve done in my life, I’ve done it with her. There was one specific night that I’ll never forget and it happened at East Room. I was like, yo let me create some funny shit for her right now. I was writing it and I’m like, this is really funny and crazy. It made it even better that everything in the story was true. The more and more I was putting together the book, the more interested I got in creative writing. When I put it out, I had no idea people would fuck with it like that. People were messaging me asking if they could buy it and I was like no, this is specifically for my best friend. I then told everyone I was going to do something else, that would be equally or even better. I made an ode to Chicago type of coloring book, called “Summertime Fye.” While I thought that was great too, I wanted to push myself to do something even more. Before I moved to New York, I always had these ideas in my sketchbooks. At first, I wanted to make a comic strip…but man, it’s something about cartoons. While in New York, I had some free time and utilized that time. I started researching animation and ways I could make this possible. I probably had two full sketchbooks worth of ideas, notes, writing scripts, character development, and how I can actually make this happen. It all came together…even though it’s still coming together.
You were supposed to release it this past fall, can we expect Unwonderful World by the summer time?
I think by the mid-year. On the music side, I have a lot of help. I think I put out one tweet and it just went crazy viral. People were emailing me their SoundCloud links and were really serious about wanting to be in the cartoon. I’ve listened to so much music since.
You moved to NYC and were there for a little over a year. How was your time?
It was wild. It was fun. I enjoyed every second of it. I learned a lot about who to trust out there. New York is the type of place where you need to have support. I’m a loner but I admit I needed that support out there. Everything I wanted to do before, I did out there. In my first month there I was working on huge projects for Nike and KITH. I was never bored in New York.
Favorite project you go to work on while in NY?
I did a project with a company that did a lot of work with Nike. When I got on, I thought I was going to be doing a Nike project with them, but actually, it was a project where I was spatially designing a boxing gym. I learned so much. I’m so cold at Google Sketchup now. I built an actual space. I was picking out tiles and coming up with the designs of everything. I just felt like a boss. Like damn, everything I’m about to imagine, I’m going to actually bring to life in this space. There were other projects I did that were really fun, like the KITH project, and others, but this spacial design project is something I had never done before. They trusted me. It felt good.
Why did you decide to come back to Chicago?
I feel like I got everything I wanted from NY and I’m not a person who will linger for too long. I thought, let me see if I can take everything I learned and go back to Chicago. Watching your friends in Chicago from a distance is hard. You see your friends and other people that are really on their shit doing their thing. I was starting to feel like maybe I copped out a little bit by moving to New York. I wanted to see if I can be great in a city that’s not mine. I don’t know, I kind of felt like I was cheating on Chicago for a little bit. I wanted to move back home with open arms, start fresh, and see what happens.
You recently tweeted, “Can I give a word of advice for you aspiring graphic designers? Learn how to design for PRINT. Do you still believe that in this digital world?
Yep. If you ever take notice of trends, you will realize that everything comes back. I’ve learned working in an agency setting that people do still print…it’s just not as big as it once was. People tend to forget that there was a time before the Internet. Print is so cool because of the endless opportunities. You also just have to learn to appreciate things that came before you.
What still pushes you to create?
I think it’s because I don’t feel like I’m done yet. I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished half of the ideas I have in my mind. When I feel like I’m done, which will probably be never, that’s when I’ll stop. Since that’s never happening, I’m going to always be thinking of new ideas.
What is something you want to accomplish by end of the year?
I’m definitely dropping my cartoon and campaigning heavy for it. I also want to focus more and keep my momentum going. The rest of 2018 is going to be great. I PROMISE YOU THAT.