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Train Back Home, by Mirai

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Mirai's Instagram: @miraichan23

A Conversation with the Artist 

We interviewed Mirai on her views and artistic journey

The Full Conversation

Mirai's interviewABFA Zine
00:00 / 34:52
The Abridged Version:

Timestamps next to each interview question correspond with the audio version. If there are certain parts of the conversation you'd like to listen to in full detail, feel free to skip around. 

So to start off, what inspired you to join the zine? [1:15]


Mirai: Well, I have always wanted to put my artwork in some place that's not only my Instagram. I feel like my artwork is kind of under-appreciated, with the Instagram algorithm and that kind of stuff. It's a nice opportunity to be in this zine, where there's all these people who are all inspired to do something, and I also like the theme of the zine. It’'s very similar to the themes in my artwork — feelings of peace, that kind of stuff.

So with your zine entry, what was the creative process like making it? Was there a specific approach you took or obstacles you faced in the process? [2:45]


When I read the theme of the zine, I knew I wanted to do something from my daily life. Because  there's this weird thing about me where I sometimes stop in the middle of my walk to look at the sky, and I think "hmm that looks so cute", I will try to remember that. Or when I'm talking to my friends, I will stop for a second in my mind and think, "wow, that's so cute" and I want to remember that for the future. So, when I saw the theme of the zine, the first thing that came to my mind were those little moments where I thought, “yeah, this is a precious moment for me, and I want to keep that in my heart.” I tried to search for those little moments in my life and use them for this artwork. I wanted to show these moments in my artwork, so I showed it here with this moment of me riding the metro. Riding the metro back home is important to me because it made me grow a lot — I had to plan.


Interviewer: Yeah. Like, you're taking public transport; there’s this sense of responsibility and making sure you're there on time. I get it.


Yeah. Also because I live in Panama, which is a dangerous country, and my parents always held me in a bubble. So the first time I took public transit was like this opportunity that my parents gave me. I always thought I always cherish that. Even though it’s just taking the metro, not a big deal, I always carry those little moments I have with my friends there. Sneaking and eating stuff, listening to music, that kind of thing. I always cherish that.



So, this next question is something I think about a lot. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always associated specific music or songs with pieces of artwork. I was wondering if you ever connect music with art, and if so how? [6:46]


When I was doing the piece, I was thinking of the sound that the metro makes when it's moving? Like the beeping noise? I heard that in my mind the whole time. And I remembered how lights would come through the window from restaurants, that stuff, because the metro in my country is over buildings rather than underground — so you can see the sky and that kind of stuff. 


Awesome. Yeah, no, I can definitely hear the little beeping of the train. That's what you're talking about. Right? 


Yeah! I’m glad that I could transmit that into the piece. And also, I like the sound of the people shouting on the train. Because here in my country, I don't know what it’s like in yours, but when people are in the metro it’s either super quiet or so loud that you don't know what to do. So when making the piece, I tried to remember the sound of people talking and shouting, too.



Speaking more broadly about your art, are there particular artists, concepts, or colour palettes that inspire your work? [9:08]


Sam Zemyata. She does animations, and my whole colour scheme came out from one of her memes that she did.The first time I saw it I was like, Wow, that's so pretty. The mood of that animation was beautiful, the colours were so saturated, and I wanted to do something like that. So, yeah, that was the first thing that pulled me into experimenting with colours. And also another thing that inspired me a lot was Studio Ghibli. There's this movie called Whisper of the Heart, and it is my favorite movie of all time. I always loved this scene of the protagonist writing in the rain, and that vibe came to mind when I was doing this piece. The whole vibe of Whisper of the Heart is like life — a little messy, but beautiful. And I love it.

In terms of your art, do you ever explore mediums other than visual art? (Music, writing, etc) [12:47]

Well, I think that it's mainly like visual art. I like to write stories, but I don't publish them. (I am really nervous about that.) Another thing I do — I have always written stories that I also want to illustrate. I'm trying to do a comic book right now, but it's not going that well right now. I might erase it and try to do it again, though. I'm working on it.

What are your earliest memories involving creative expression? [14:19]


This was from when I was really young - maybe kindergarten. I was drawing with my cousin when she gave me a tip about drawing hair and that kind of stuff. And, I don't know why, but it was at that moment I knew I wanted to take this drawing thing more seriously. Her giving me those topics was kind of a catalyst for me to continue drawing. After we got back from school, we would sit on the table in my grandma's kitchen, and we would draw until there was no more paper. I cherish those moments. I will always think of the drawing tips that she gave me a while ago, or even now.


How have people in your personal life influenced your art journey? [17:10]

My grandma. I remember coming to her house after school, and she was the one who would always take care of us. She would always be painting something, on some big canvas, while we were there. I remember vividly the way she applied paint, that kind of stuff. I wanted to be just like her. She doesn't paint anymore because she is a little bit too old, and her hand shakes, but I always love going into her house and seeing the paintings that she made . I know I want it when she's not with us anymore. I want to save one of her paintings and have it in my home.

In general, are there any themes or topics that inform your artwork? [20:06]


 I have always wanted to have a piece of feminism in my artwork. That's why I want to showcase strong women, but also not stereotypical ways of depicting “strong” women. I love drawings of women that can just do things for themselves, but also enjoy the typical girly stuff. 


Other than the feminism and female friendships topics, I also wanted to showcase nostalgia — that feeling when you are on your vacation, or you're at home looking at the ceiling. I always want to showcase this feeling of "wow, I feel satisfied with my life right now." 


Do you ever feel obligated for your work to have a “deeper,” or more profound, meaning? Do you think that “deeper” meaning makes artwork more valuable? [22:12]


Not really. I just want to make people happy with my drawings. Showcasing the daily life of people, doing random stuff — I’m happy with that.

How much do you think creative ability is an innate talent? Versus a skill, you can work at over time? [24:07]


Oh, my God, it's something that I've developed over time. I have some of my sketchbooks from when I was really young, and oh my god those things are so awful. Like, my art is all things I have learned. Like, I remember this Sailor Moon drawing that I did when I was in fourth grade. Oh my god, that thing is so disproportionate, one eye was on the head and one eye was on the chin, it was horrible.


I completely relate! When I would draw faces I  would put the eye on the forehead — like so above.


And I would always draw people like this! It's like they were small heads, small or big. Nightmare fuel.


Going back to your creative process, what role do you think emotions play in it? [25:41]


Well, regarding emotions, I have to be in the mood to draw. If I'm not inspired, I will often spend hours drawing the same circle, and I don't like that. Also, I have to have a little bit of confidence for what I'm going for — a vision. I have to be like, “yeah, I can do this thing”. Also, like I said before, I always try to set a moment of peace in my artwork. 


Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So, when you say you need to have a vision in your artwork, do you always go into an art piece knowing how you want it to look?


Yes and no. I just have an idea — I know what elements I want. For example, if I want to have some guy walking over a street, I know that some guy has to be walking on a street, but I don't know where but he has to be walking on the street. You know what I mean?


And so how much of your artwork would you say is planned versus spontaneous?


Yeah, my work is not really spontaneous. Or at least not the artwork I actually post, if you understand. 


Our last question — what’s something that’s made you smile this week? [32:11]


Well, my dogs. They always bring a smile to my face, and they also give me peace of mind. My family too.



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