Art Talk: The Magical Animals of Mia Taninaka

Free spirit dan adventurous adalah dua kata yang bisa menggambarkan Mia Taninaka, seorang seniman berdarah Jepang-Australia yang kini bermukim di Bali. Dua kata tersebut juga mewakili apa yang tertangkap dari ilustrasi berbau folklore dan shamanisme karyanya, yang menampilkan objek-objek alami (mainly, its various type of birds) dengan palet warna yang bold dan dipenuhi detail impresif. “Seni bagi saya adalah cara untuk melepaskan energi tertentu dari tubuh kita. Kurasa penting bagi semua orang untuk memiliki creative outlet tertentu, entah melukis, menari atau apapun yang bisa membuatmu bergerak. Kalau tidak, stress sehari-hari akan menumpuk dan membuatmu gila.” Ujar penggemar musik Davendra Banhart tersebut. Setelah menggelar pameran tunggal terbarunya “And The Gods Made Love” di Deus Gallery, Canggu, Bali, pemilik design company Wolfie & Huck ini sedang mencoba mengenal Indonesia lebih jauh. Here, she’s talking about her art.

Hi Mia, how are you? How’s going on? Would you mind to introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Mia. I’m a 27 year old half Japanese girl born on the full moon in May. I enjoy hot cups of tea, carrot cake, lentils, sunny days with a cool breeze, and going on epic adventures with my amazing boyfriend and beautiful friends.

Where do you live right now and how you spend your usual day?

I’m currently living in Bali. Spending most of my days in the sun, at the studio painting & drawing, reading books, travelling around Indonesia and dreaming about holidays. I’ve done a bit of travelling to various places in Java, Lombok, Sumbawa and are planning a roadtrip through Sumba in the near future. I’m learning to speak Indonesian at the moment, but I’ve been pretty lazy!

How long have you been creating art? When did you first consider yourself an artist?

I’ve been arting around since I was a kid, making birthday cards and painting my bedroom walls. I had my first show a few years ago, but I don’t think I considered myself to be an ‘artist’ till I got to quit my day job.


Where do you grow up? What was your childhood like? Are you come from creative family?

I grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and spent a lot of my childhood travelling through Sth East Asia with my family. This gave me a cultural kick in the butt and opened my eyes and mind to a whole new world and way of life.

Can you remember the first artwork you ever did?

No, but I recently found a box of paintings I did for my parents in kindy. Lots of trees and flowers, the ocean and the sun with happy fish and birds.So I guess my style hasn’t changed much since then haha.

Are you going to art school?

I’ve never been to art school. I studied Graphic Design, but I’m not really a fan of timetables and exams and my concentration span is terrible!


Who/what have been your greatest influences?

Music, mountains, the ocean, animals, my boyfriend, carpets, spirituality, folklore, shamanism, the moon and love.

Which artists do you admire?

Gustav Klimt, Devendra Banhart, Ricardo Cavolo, Marc Chagall, Kelsey Brooks, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Margaret Kilgallen and many more. There are so many amazing artists at the moment, it’s good to see so much creativity in the world.

What’s inspiring you at the moment and why?

I’m experiencing a bit of a creative block at the moment, so I’m filtering through a lot of other artists work and referencing old images of birds, animals and botanical plants.

What’s your preferred medium to work in and why?

I mainly work with acrylics, ink and watercolours on timber surfaces. I like the bold flat colour of acrylics, the fine imperfections of ink and the soft pretty rainbows watercolour can make.

What’s your favorite object to draw?

I love painting feathers and leaves and eyes. I love the details you can create in a birds feather and the different expressions you can convey in the eyes.


Tell me about Wolfie & Huck, where the name came from?

Wolf-girls are amazing and my boyfriend kinda reminds me of Huckleberry I stuck them together and made a nice little love story about them.

What you’re working on now?

I’ve just been commissioned by a very good friend to do a large crow portrait so I’m excited about working on that. I’m also working on a collection of painted resin cast deer skulls.

Do you listen to music while making art or you prefer some silence? If you choose music, what kinds of music do you listen to?

I’ve got to have music playing to do any sort of creative work. A lot of Bob Dylan, Al Green, Dan Auerbach, The Greenhornes, Black Keys, Charlie Parr, George Harrison, The Beatles, Devendra Banhart, heaps of Neil Young. Anything that makes you feel something deep inside your belly or puts a smile on your  face.

What are your tips to get over the creative block?

Stop working for a bit and have a time out from the pressure of needing to be creative right then and there. Have a cup of tea, go camping, read a book, just start doodling mindlessly again and give yourself a guilt-free day off.

That’s the beauty of being an artist, you can give yourself a day off if you’re not feeling it.


What one place would you recommend people to get inspiration?

Lying down under the stars. You can get lost up there and your mind gets to go exploring.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Don’t worry about it. Everything’s going to be amazing”

Next project?

Mm, no idea yet. I’m just going to work towards doing another solo show early next year.  I haven’t put much though into my next show. I’m hoping to experiment more with other mediums…maybe some sculpture, wall hangings etc. Make it more of an interactive show.

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