Sometimes you just know. You come across someone’s art; their aesthetic, their message, an overall feeling, and you know it comes from a place of deep heart and wisdom. That was the sense I got the first time I found the work of illustrator Mia Saine (pronounced ‘Maya’). After we met on zoom, I knew I wanted to work with them on a project. At the same time, I had been talking with Allbirds about a collab – and thus the spark to bring us all together.
Q+A WITH ILLUSTRATOR MIA SAINE
We were all drawn to a theme of belonging. I spoke about Oiselle’s vision, that everyone feels invited to the transformative power of body movement. The Allbirds team spoke passionately about making running more accessible and community based. And Mia spoke openly about gear that was made for everyone; people with disabilities or those living beautiful, active lives in the non-binary.
While it’s true we have a product collection, the essence of the collaboration is Mia’s family of twelve characters; illustrations that represent the best of what sport can be. As they describe it: “everyday people, loved ones and strangers, showing strength in ways that need to be celebrated.”
SB: What led you to illustration and graphic design? Is it something that was common in your family?
Mia: My former art teacher and dear friend, Leanne Wilson, introduced me to graphic design and screenprinting in 2011. After spending time with the new medium, I fell in love with design and expressing colorful narratives with my work. Several years later, The CLTV really gave me a space to explore illustration and that allowed my creativity and work to become more organic and playful. I'm not aware of any of my family members in either creative field, but I can proudly say creativity is very common with my family.
SB: Did you always want to turn it into a profession?
Mia: Art was always the option, but I never imagined my career being like this. I am so grateful. I want to grow to become an art director or creative director one day. I promised my 16-year-old self that much.
I want to grow to become an art director or creative director one day. I promised my 16-year-old self that much.
SB: People, bold colors, joy... your work is so vibrant. Do you have a favorite subject matter?
Mia: My favorite subject matter is people expressing themselves with fashion. Fabric and the way it forms around the body tells stories we can only imagine. That's why I have loved it since I used to be traditional acrylic painter. I love using this matter to discuss identity, self-awareness, compassion, sustainability, and so much more.
SB: For the Women Print what was your design intent? Who are these busy women?
Mia: I really wanted to show people who are comfortable being themselves and having the will to push forward despite discomfort. It was ideal to capture playful, loose movement. These characters were inspired by various everyday people, loved ones and strangers, who have shown strength in ways that need to be celebrated. I wish I could draw 100 more.
These characters were inspired by various everyday people, loved ones and strangers, who have shown strength in ways that need to be celebrated. I wish I could draw 100 more.
SB: We've talked a lot about the dream of more inclusivity in sports. What has been your personal relationship with body movement?
Mia: I embrace body movement by dancing, walking, jogging, and so much more. I stretch often while breathing the air. I continue to explore ways to have a better relationship with my body – it's my staple after all! I really enjoy exceeding my limits and understanding that my motion is always constant as long as I believe it.
SB: Where do you think the sports world needs to go or change - in order to be more inclusive?
Mia: People need to better show up and/or financially back athletes with disabilities, LGBTQA+ athletes, and multi-gender athletes. There still needs to be more push for representation and self-awareness. That's the only way the best knows that they are allowed to be great.
SB: We both got to enjoy a new creative process: designing a shoe! What was your favorite part?
Mia: I loved figuring out the color wave for the different parts of the shoe. I love how color interacts with different materials and thinking about the experience of how people will interact with the shoe based on the placement.
SB: You've done some great work and collaborations with a lot of organizations and companies? What's been a favorite or two - other than us, lol!
Mia: This is really tough one! I don't have favorites but really enjoyed collaborating with VOX Media, Instagram, and Blinkink.
SB: What are you looking forward to most in the post-Covid world?
Mia: I can't wait to get together and celebrate with loved ones – and the rest of the world! I can't wait to indulge and be surrounded by new perspectives, creativity, and progression.
SB: How can people follow you - and support your work?
Mia: Please follow me @heymiasaine on social media platforms! My website miasaine.com and shop will be launching Summer 2021.