Interview: Mia Rosa Green

Mia is an illustrator and artist. Her love for illustration is shown throughout her work. I was lucky enough to have a little interview with Mia about her work. 

Hello Mia! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

Hiya! The pleasure is mine. I’m well thank you – currently on a train to Cornwall.

 Tell us a little bit about your background.

I grew up in Brighton, Sussex. Brighton is a very vibrant city full of creative people so I grew up surrounded by art and food festivals, huge graffiti murals painted the walls. However, I did get out into the countryside a lot of the time – the Sussex downs are fabulous and many weekends were spent exploring the fields and woods.

Describe yourself in three words.

Adventurous, passionate and curious.

I adore your work. What inspired you to start doing illustrations and design?

Thank you. I left secondary school without any GCSE’s due to very bad mental health issues. I didn’t go into school, ever. All I would do is lay in bed all day. Until I discovered illustration (and gardening!). I was scrolling through Tumblr one day in 2012 and I came across Phoebe Wahl’s drawings. I fell instantly in love and spent hours on her page soaking up the magic of her artwork. From there, I dived into my grandparent’s library on art and found the impressionist movement. I didn’t realize that to be an artist you didn’t have to create things that looked completely real. I saw that my silly doodles could actually become more than doodles – and it changed my life.

Have you always been into illustrations, design and art?

Typically, yes. I drew constantly as a child, favouring comic strips based on my family members. I would visit galleries and sit and draw people at cafes. But then we started still life drawing sessions at school and I couldn’t do it. The other talented drawers in my class could do it brilliantly but there I was stuck in my cartoons. So I stopped. I drew now and then but nowhere near as much as I had done as younger kid. It took Phoebe Wahl and the impressionist movement 5 years later to kick-start me back into it.

How has your creative process changed since the start?

After school finished (without me) I moved from Brighton to a little seaside town called Littlehampton where my grandparents, dad, step-mum, little brother and sister live. They pushed me to apply to an Art & Design BTEC course and miraculously, without any GCSE’s – I got in! I studied at Northbrook college for 3 years and earned the equivalent of 3 A Levels and a B in English GCSE. Without Northbrook my art wouldn’t have improved and I wouldn’t now be studying at one of the top illustration courses in the country. They pushed me at length and I learnt print making, ceramic work, digital work, painting, about primary and secondary research and how important it is. I found that by working in a range of different fields for a few years it improves your drawing skills massively.

How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?

I have a character called Ted and I created him in 2012 after discovering illustration. In my first ever painting of him he is tiny and splodged onto printer paper! Now I know how to scale up, how to draw bodies to scale and that you do Not paint watercolours onto printer paper!

If there were no resource restraints, what would be your dream project?

I would really love to create a film. Having a big cool film camera and some actors to spare would be so fun to just get creative with. I used to muck around on YouTube as a kid but have always enjoyed stringing together bits of film. I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head and I write a lot so it would be interesting to see how some professionals could recite my words!

What tools or materials could you not live without?

Thick cartridge paper or watercolour paper, Windsor and Newton goache paints (definitely a mustard yellow in there), Windsor and Newton watercolour travel set, Uni Pin fineliners size 0.5 and 0.2, and any pencil I can get my hands on!

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

Without Tumblr or Instagram, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. The support I got online gave me the confidence to apply to college. The fact people bought my work gave me a sense of achievement I hadn’t felt since primary school. I am forever grateful to those who have commissioned me or bought my prints for making me believe in myself.

Who inspires your work? Do you have any favourite pieces of artwork, design or illustrations that you adore at the moment?

I am a bit obsessed with Carson Ellis at the moment. I adore the Wildwood Chronicles: a series of books written by her husband Colin Meloy and illustrated by herself. A few of my favourite illustrators are Emily Sutton, Mark Hearld, Tove Jansson, Louise Lockhart, E.H Shephard and Taryn Knight.

What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram? What are you currently working on?

Currently at university so am bogged down with quite a lot of work but am selling some prints at a pop up arts fair soon where I might be selling some valentine’s day cards alongside more of my Beehive drawings.

What inspires you on a day-to-day basis?

Hearing the birdsong outside of my window, listening to folk music, flicking through Flow magazine or through my big collection of books, long countryside walks, good food and positive thoughts.

Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to set up their own Instagram?

Instagram can be scary as people can get quite concerned with how many likes / followers they get. If a selfie doesn’t get more than 5 likes – so what? You’re beautiful. You knew that when you took the selfie. It can be quite dangerous to get caught up with all that so my advice is try to stay free minded and post because you have things to show and things to say. Get excited by your art, by the world, by your body and use the platform to show off to the world! It’s also a great source of inspiration so even if you don’t post anything just follow all your favourite artists and see their stories and posts of the process of their artwork.

Do you have any advice for designers and illustrators?

I once interviewed Phoebe Wahl and asked her to give some advice to budding artists and she told me

“Work HARD. Make BAD work that you HATE and learn from it. Don’t worry too much about finding your own personal style it will come to you organically. Examine the ways you created and interacted as child. Chances are, that was the most honest and creatively free you have ever been and ever will be, so take as much of that as possible with you through your work and career and life.”

What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?

MY advice is keep going. As someone who has thought many times that life wasn’t worth it – it is. You can do it. Surround yourself with constant inspiration and romanticise your day to day life if you have to. Do what makes you happy, be kind, be gentle and keep on drawing.

If you would like to follow this lovely lady, please take a look at her wonderful Etsy shop 'https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MiaRosaGreen'. She has some wonderful items on sale.