A conversation with...Mia Saine
With the Conversations Series, we create a positive image for Black girls to refer to, by having conversations with different business owners, entrepreneurs and creators. Here, we are catching up with Mia Saine is a non-binary Black creative seeking to share a more positive, inclusive narrative. They graduated from Memphis College of Art in 2017. Since then, they have specialised in commercial illustration, branding design, advertising design and environmental design. We really enjoy Mia, minimal and colourful digital illustrations. Their work amplifies the voices and experiences of minorities. Before becoming an illustrator, Mia was a full-time graphic designer. They continue to collaborate with others to bring awareness to encourage others to create a better tomorrow
Our featured artist for Issue 5 The Birthday Issue is Elizabeth Lander. You can read all about her creative journey. Buy our latest issue here
Little People, Big Dreams: Michelle Obama is your second illustration book. How closely did you work with Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara? What was the experience like?
I would say that the Little People, Big Dreams: Michelle Obama's book is the second book that I've illustrated. The first book series that I illustrated was for a New York children's education organisation. Which was educational reading material for children. Creating illustrations for the Michelle Obama story was different, however super fun. We mostly worked with Maria through email and zoom. Her feedback was incredible. It was a very sufficient streamline. It was a team collaboration; I was also working with Quarto publishers in the UK and US team.
I did a lot of research on Michelle Obama; I presented a lot of the creative concepts, figuring out what was accurate. We wanted the illustrations to tell the best story about Michelle Obama, especially for this series. It was great working with Maria and the Quarto team.
MIA'S EARLIEST SKETCHES
When did you discover your love for art? What was that like?
I first discovered I loved art. When I was three, I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I thought I was going to be an astronaut or a chef. My grandparents and my parents definitely nurtured the creative side of me, so it was just fantastic growing up and exploring different mediums to be exposed to original artists and just be myself. A lot of times, people don't get the chance to enjoy being their creative self. At eighteen, I went into Graphic Design. I got into illustration after college. During 2017 I started drawing, so I’m fairly new to illustration, so I would say that I transitioned from Painter, Graphic Designer to Illustrator.
Being an illustrator differs slightly from a graphic designer as you’re trying to address issues with illustrations. You have more permission to explore different mediums and basically do what you want. It’s really nice to indulge in my creativity, just to pursue what I love to do. Through my designs, I’m helping to bring awareness and being able to express certain topics or issues. Having the Michelle Obama book is so nice, we need to know more about the people we admire every day.
Describe your illustrations in 3 words.
I would say, humanistic, lively. Oh, I know so many words, authentic just allowing the people that I draw to exist, who they are with no apology. They represent people I see on a regular day basis. And these people are great people, and I just want to show them to the world.
What mediums do you create your work in?
Right now, I do everything on my iPad. I work on Adobe fresco, which is like a part of the Adobe series. I'm looking to translate my art into fabrics and paintings. Earlier this year, I had an enormous interest in fabrics, the way people express themselves through actual materials. This also includes having an interest in robotics and astrophysics. I’m still learning about how my art will connect with soft robotics. It would be good to see my characters become soft sculptures.
What advice would you give a young illustrator?
I would tell a young illustrator to just figure out what makes them happy, do not give in to what people want you to make. I mean, it is great to know what people are interested in. But your best art is going to come from things that inspire you and also make you want to keep growing as a person. I feel like a lot of times as artists; we're sharing our work for the world but the actual topics, mediums and colours, all these different aspects of this art is from things that we have in our brain in our heart, so it's a lot of internal work. You're just expressing that visually for other people to understand. So you keep having to fulfil that in order to keep improving your work.
Your best art is going to come from things that inspire you and also make you want to keep growing as a person.
Remember to do it for yourself, keep exploring different mediums, talk to other people, you're not always going to learn everything and always make sure at some point if you're at the point where you're trying to sell your work never sell yourself short literally art is subjective so you don't know how much something is going to make.
Who are your favourite illustrators/designers?
Recently I’ve enjoyed the work of Abbey Lossing. She does a lot of these figures based on shapes which don't have faces. It’s all about movement. I love it because I feel we’re both inspired by Keith Haring. Then there is Haley Tippmann, she is an incredible artist. A lot of artists I enjoy, their work mainly focuses on people. With Harly Tippmann's work, she shows many people doing everyday activities, for example people are talking to friends, at home playing with their pets. She uses incredible usage of materials; she uses colour pencils, creating solid colours. Another artist I admire is Sonia Lazo. Her work has simplified cute characters, as will as people. Sonia was the artist I reached out to, where I was asking for some advice. Meg Lewis is a US designer. Her branding and her illustrations are just like her personality is so fun, cheery, and just goofy. I really get inspiration from her work. She’s just incredible. I love Nina Chanel Abney. The shapes she conveys in her art are very chaotic, however lively, which lives within her figures. I love the fact she uses the letter x, which is one of my favourite symbols. There is one other artist I actually found out about him not that long ago. Moebius (also known as Jean Giraud) was a famous French artist during the 1970s. His work is Sci-Fi inspired but the gradients, the people and the imagination are beautiful.
This really allowed me to know that you can still create exceptional art. Even though you're not making these super hyper realistic paintings. You can make a story with shapes. You can make stories with movement, you can simplify and still convey human experience.
What would be your dream project? And why?
My dream project would be to work for NASA. It would be great to create characters for their children's website. I had a look at the website. On the site it’s very scientific, I feel creativity would benefit from the explanation of the planets, stars and galaxies.
Quick fire round
What’s currently on your playlist?
Oh my goodness, so I listened to a lot of music and I actually feel like people should know that if they follow my work. I constantly listen to unique music that definitely influenced my work. Right now I’ve been listening to ID: K, a great rapper. Some classical music, also I’ve gone back to listening to Memphis music.
Podcast or Book?
I would say podcast nowadays.
What’s your hidden talent?
My hidden talent that people rarely know about is that I can juggle hula hoops.
Little People, BIG DREAMS: Michelle Obama | Frances Lincoln
Available from bookshop.org