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Mia Saine

Mia creates light-hearted, playful illustrations and designs with bold colors, minimal patterns, simplified figures, and speckled gradients.

Mia Saine is a twenty-five-year-old illustrator from Memphis, Tennessee. Mia graduated from Memphis College of Art in 2017 with a degree in graphic design. While working at a graphic design agency after graduation, they took an internship at the International Paper headquarters, where they explored the world of infographics. It was here that Mia created their first illustrative characters, Emily and Cheddar the deer. Although they were earning a living in the graphic design industry, they weren’t satisfied with the direction of their work or their portfolio. “What really progressed my art style,” Mia states, “was working with the Memphis non-profit the CLTV.” The CLTV is an organization dedicated to honoring and supporting African American artists by providing a platform to showcase their work. Each exhibition Mia participated in gave their the chance to challenge themselves as an illustrator as well as refine their style and brand. With further encouragement from their roommates, Mia continued to explore illustration and development of their characters. Mia began to feel a sense of wholeness and has been doing professional illustration now for the past three years. 

Mia’s goals as an artist include developing inclusive spaces that bring comfort and happiness. They want to encourage people to connect and empathize with each other. As an artist who deals with depression and anxiety, Mia’s illustrations and designs present playful, simplistic characters. “These characters,” Mia shares, “refer to the need for health awareness, normalization, emotional development, spirituality, self-exploration, and self-love methods for minorities — assets that are often absent from media and our communities.” Mia also looks forward to branching out and doing more apparel production, home decor, wayfinding, and animation collaborations with their characters.

Mia’s inspirations as an artist are many. They are inspired by space and nature. They are inspired by self-discovery as well as social, physical, and mental health issues. They are inspired by fashion shows and 60s, 70s, and 80s culture and music. They are inspired by anime, especially “Starlight Angel” from Robert Carnival, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Sailor Moon. In fact, you might find Mia playing the theme song to Sailor Moon on their ukulele, Emerald, whenever they find themselves dealing with self doubt. Mia is also inspired by other artists. A couple of their Memphis favorites include Carl E. Moore and Dana James Mwangi. Other artists who inspire Mia include Nina Chanel Abney, Solange, Sonia Lazo, Keith Harring, Tyler the Creator, Nina Simone, Meg Lewis, Abbey Lossing, and, as they continue, “literally all my artistic friends.”

Mia started using Procreate in 2018. Before Procreate, Mia used to pen-tool their illustrations and then add additional features on Photoshop. This was time-consuming because they were working within a grid. Procreate has made their working process so much faster. Mia cannot live without their laptop. “It’s portability really allows me to enjoy different spaces,” they say. Through this variety of space emerges creativity. they continues, “When I’m stuck in one place, I feel so confined.” In fact, one way Mia tackles artist’s block is by taking meditation walks and enjoying new space to find inspiration.

Mia admits that they used to underpay herself. they didn’t really understand freelance taxes. Once they started dealing with more clients, Mia admits, “I had to realize I needed to be more business-minded to make a sustainable livable wage.” So their advice to other artists is to “please ask for enough money that reflects not only your talents but your time. You can never get time back, so have rates that are livable and won’t have you constantly working.”

Let's Support Mia!

Mia Saine says the best way to support them is by following their Instagram so you can purchase artwork and products that they create. They are also currently taking commission work for September and October 2020.

Mia’s newsletter will be coming out mid-autumn 2020! Please follow their platforms for updates!

Mia’s website will launch August 2020.

Support mia saine

Megan at 5:14 pm

Hi, I believe you have used the incorrect pronouns. Mia Saine has listed their pronouns as they/them on Instagram 🙂

Lisa Bardot at 9:56 pm

Megan, thank you SO MUCH for bringing this to my attention! I immediately updated the article with the correct pronouns and reached out to Mia to apologize. I appreciate you saying something!


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