Mia Christopher

April 27 2015

Mia Christopher is an artist living and working in San Francisco, California. She makes paintings with alternative materials like confetti, latex, glitter and lipstick, and loves her cats and sweet treats.

Who are you?

I am an artist currently living and working in San Francisco. I earned my BFA from California College of the Arts in 2012 and have maintained an active studio practice since, as well as participating in collaborations in art and design worlds. I really like making things and eating sweets.

Maybe He Can Read My Mind After All, 2012

How do you describe your work, and where do your biggest influences come from?

The language for describing art always shifts depending on who is listening. My practice is cyclical and shifts all of the time, but most currently I would describe the majority of my work as investigations into abstraction with a heavy focus on material. Much of my work plays with opposing forces, such as minimalist tendencies and extreme decadence. Nothing is one dimensional, and I am much more interested in creating a feeling rather than proving a point or presenting a specific narrative.

My studio is a goldmine of found materials, collected stickers, tabloid cut-outs, discarded house paints, fine art papers, metal paper shredded down to fine glitter, plastic cups from the dollar store, streamers, pink balloons, and so forth. I believe that the most important part of my practice is just making sure I get to the studio every day, whether I am there for 10 hours or for 2, that time in that space can not be recreated anywhere else. Though I draw influence from a life outside the studio, that is the place where the questions I have been posing can be tested, and concepts may materialize.

I am very fortunate to know many creative people, who both live in the Bay Area and also are located throughout the world. These relationships constantly challenge me and introduce me to many new ideas and ways of working. There is by no means a lack of inspiration in this universe. We are living in a really wild age when it comes to technology and communication, and this feeds into my practice.

Every Thing, 2012

You recently designed a line of clothing, how did that process differ from making paintings?

Working on a ten piece collection of garments was a thrilling and enlightening experience. It was very important that my work was translated in a way that maintained the integrity of the original paintings, and that it was clear that these were paintings being made into prints for clothing (and that these textiles were not just created for the specific purpose of being textiles).

We ultimately decided on three bodies of work that we referred to as the “compositional stacking” paintings, “color stripe” paintings, and what I refer to as my “test sheets.” I sent jpegs of the strongest pieces from each set to a surface designer in Los Angeles who experimented to see which works tessellated best. There was a fluid selection process with lots of changes, dialogue and emailing. I am constantly learning the great significance of being a good communicator and this project was a great chance to improve on that.

This was the first time I had ever worked with a company on such a large scale, so in many ways the project was a first experience in navigation how to collaborate in a very different way. Going into the project I made a conscious effort to not have too many expectations and to be open to the process while viewing it as a learning experience. I am beyond pleased with how everything turned out. To see my artwork on a different medium, and on bodies, has been incredible. I recently had my first “stranger sighting” of a random person on the street wearing one of the peplum blouses I designed and it was a very surreal and amazing feeling. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity.

Do you think your work errs on the side of being feminine?

I am conscious of the history of my materials as well as the mediums I am working in, especially when it comes to gender roles. I don’t know if my work errs on the side of being feminine or not, and I am not really concerned with that question so much as I am with why that is a question and where our standards for one or the other stem from. I have often been surprised by the response my work has from men, who maybe don’t know who made the work. I feel that sometimes I am using what may be considered more “female” materials and colors, such as cosmetics or soft watercolors, but in a very “masculine” way, like dumping out a gallon of dark gray latex paint on top of a mound of glitter and studio floor dust, and then creating ripples from nail enamel set within the latex. So sometimes the materials may be feminine and the image or gesture that created the image has a more masculine feel, or vice versa. I think it also really just depends on where the viewer is coming from in terms of their relationship to created gender roles. As a human I have both masculine and feminine aspects of my personality, and so do most of my pieces.

Like That, 2013

Growing up, did you see yourself becoming an artist? What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?

As a child I often was really very spacey. Mostly off in my own little world, I made up and illustrated stories and spending hours arranging toys or my mothers costume jewelry by color, size and shape. More time was definitely spent on admiring details rather than coming up with specific narratives. I never really considered growing up to be an artist something that was possible, because the artists I was introduced to as a child were people like Van Gogh, Monet, Seurat, and generally men from Europe who had been dead for many years before I ever learned of them. I went through different phases of thinking I wanted to be a veterinarian or somehow work to help animals, or teach elementary school, or even be a pastry chef or something to do with sugar. If I weren’t an artist in this direct way, I would probably be doing something like that where I am working in a field that I care deeply about and could be creative and hopefully inspiring. There are still many things I would like to do that aren’t necessarily being an “Artist” in the specific sense of the world, but I believe that all the things I spend time and energy on influence my practice, so I am always being an artist even if I am playing soccer with 7 year olds or decorating cookies.

A Year Or Two, 2012

What’s your favorite thing about living and working in San Francisco?

There is a supremely diverse community of artists and creative people living in the Bay Area, and the proximity of varying landscape, perspective and climates keeps me continually interested and curious. I am never bored in San Francisco, it is truly my favorite place. The air always feels fresh and there is a never ending list of places to explore in and around the city.

What’s on your favorite sandwich?

Ice cream sandwiches are my most favorite sandwiches.

Cashmere, 2012

Soft Served, 2012