Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Meet a Memphis Artist: Interview with Mia Saine

Photo: Mia Saine

Photo: Mia Saine

Mia Saine is an illustrator and designer based right here in Memphis, and they are killing the digital art game by combining bold design and affirming messages with powerful portraits. All together, these ingredients blend to create memorable, important works of art. I found Mia on Instagram, and each of their posts is uplifting and inspiring. Mia’s pieces are the kind that you want to buy, hang on your wall, wear on a shirt and show all of your friends.

Take some time to get to know the mind behind the work:

Emily Zachry: To start, tell me a little bit about yourself and your background:

Mia Saine: I’m a 25-year-old illustrator and graphic designer from Memphis. I’ve been doing artwork professionally for three years, since graduating from Memphis College of Art in 2017. When I’m not dancing in my favorite socks or obsessing over tea, I collaborate with fun individuals, organizations and companies to create awareness and solutions. I create light-hearted, playful illustrations and designs with bold colors and simplified figures.

“[In high school], I was a painter, and I hated computers – which is hilarious to think about now.” -Mia Saine

EZ: Are you from Memphis?

MS: Yes and no. I was born in Memphis, but I grew up in Arlington – way before any development was happening. It was just trees, a Piggly Wiggly and an Exxon gas station back then. My parents are from the Southside, but moved to the country [at the time] when they returned to Memphis in 1994. I moved to the Midtown area once I started at Memphis College of Art in 2013.

EZ: How did you get started in art and design? Have you always done digital work?

MS: I’ve always been an artist. I was introduced to graphic design my junior year of high school. At the time, I was a painter, and I hated computers – which is hilarious to think about now. My teacher, Leanne Wilson, allowed us to learn so much and put our knowledge into practice. She really got me into graphic design, illustration and screen-printing to the point I wanted to becopme a Creative Director one day. I didn’t even know what a Creative Director was or that I could be one until then.

EZ: That being said, how has your work evolved over the years?

MS: My art has shifted extremely. At first, my work was very organic and then it shifted to very geometrical as I furthered my design education. Once I started illustrating in 2017, my style gradually transitioned to a nice combination of the two. However, my work has always been people-oriented.
“I want to explore various ways I can improve people’s lives and remind them that every day is worthwhile.”  -Mia Saine

EZ: Where do you find inspiration?

MS: I pull from numerous sources: space and nature, 60s/70s/80s culture, music, fashion shows, self-discovery, anime like Sailor Moon and “Starlight Angel” from Robot Carnival, social issues, physical and mental health issues and a lot more! 

Art by Mia Saine

EZ: Are there any recurring themes in your work?

MS: Yes, I tend to use my main ingredients: self-love, vulnerability, empowerment and hope. My work is the exploration of self-discovery, empathy, and empowerment for people who deserve to be seen. 

EZ: What are your personal artistic goals?

MS: I want to go beyond just being an illustrator and graphic designer. I want to explore various ways I can improve people’s lives and remind them that every day is worthwhile. It would be amazing to begin activating spaces, create clothing, programming shows and so much more that push the boundaries to how a person like me can exist in a more loving and progressive society.
“I think these spaces are gradually becoming more inclusive and safer due to the work of my peers.” -Mia Saine

EZ: Can you think of the best piece of artistic advice you’ve ever received? If so, what was it?

MS: “If the price doesn’t scare you, you’re not asking for enough.” This was huge for me. Creatives have to be business people and make a livable wage at the end of the day.

EZ: Which artists do you look up to? Any local to Memphis?

MS: I’ll just name a few creatives or else I would have a novel of names. I look up to Nina Chanel Abney, Solange, Sonia Lazo, Keith Harring, Dana James Mwangi, Tyler the Creator, Nina Simone, Meg Lewis, Carl E. Moore, Abbey Lossing, and literally all of my artistic friends. There are way more influences, but those names were the ones to first pop into my head.
“These uncertain times have transformed like how lava eventually transforms into an island. I haven’t been able to do any exhibitions or pop-ups, but I began receiving way more remote work.” -Mia Saine

EZ: Speaking of local artists, how do you feel about the art scene in Memphis?

MS: I believe the art scene is transforming for the better. I think these spaces are gradually becoming more inclusive and safer due to the work of my peers. 

EZ: Has living in Memphis had any effect on your art or your creative process?

MS: Yes, I’ve gotten so much influence to be unapologetic, authentic, and persistent from my city. Also, I hang around with good people, so I learn so much knowledge that has significantly improved my artwork and freelancing. 

EZ: How has the pandemic affected your art? What about your work process?

MS: Due to unexpected circumstances, I started full-time freelancing when the pandemic started. These uncertain times have transformed like how lava eventually transforms into an island. I haven’t been able to do any exhibitions or pop-ups, but I began receiving way more remote work.

From the work that’s been created to shed light upon the social injustices that many face to the pieces that stand as a reminder to practice peace, patience, and self-care, Mia has used their artwork to spread joy and awareness in various spaces.

Want to browse through more of Mia’s work? Check them out on Instagram. Be sure to hit that follow button to see updates on their website and online store (which will be launching this summer)! Check out their Linktree for even more information.

Facebook Comments