Mia Anika from Spectrum, Visual Artist
Today I’m happy to introduce you to Mia Anika from Spectrum! She’s a visual artist and a mental health advocate with her own perspective on creativity.
I’m a fan of Mia Anika’s artwork. The colors really jump off the screen and it’s always wonderful to see an artist who is not afraid to experiment with different palettes, styles, and mediums.
I really enjoy putting these interviews together and have no plans to stop anytime soon. Still, the last installment in this series was back in August. After reworking my blogging schedule and mapping out my plans for the remainder of the year it just made more sense to be a bit more flexible with this ongoing project.
With that in mind, moving forward, community features will now be more fluid. It’s great how much positive feedback I’ve received on these interviews and I’m looking forward to see what everyone has to say about this feature!
1. Tell us your name, about your blog, biz, or creative pursuits!
I’m Mia Anika, visual artist, and mental health advocate. Drawing and painting are my jams, acrylic, and ink my favorite media. You can find my work here.
On my blog SPECTRUM, I share weekly inspiration for creatives (#TuesdayTea), prompts for meditation, and highlights of a mental health disorder/illness & coping strategies (#TherapyThursday). I gave a TED talk on April 1st on the art of the outlet, how creative pursuits improve productivity and mental health.
2. How would you define “Creativity”?
Creativity is investing in novelty. It is conceiving an idea and breathing life into it, making something out of nothing.
3. What would you say to someone who thought you had to be an artist in order to be creative?
Being creative has everything to do with your approach to an object, function, or a problem, with how (un)conventionally you think. Creativity is not limited to a field or job description!
4. Would you consider yourself a creative person? Has it been something you’ve worked toward or is it natural to you?
I’m naturally a creative person: I’ve doodled since I was 3 or 4, but I stuck with poems and short stories for the longest. That being said, several teachers and professors have pushed and challenged me to develop in writing, drawing, and painting. Kudos to them all!
5. What do you do to keep yourself in the creative mindset?
I really try to stay open. When I sense myself getting flustered and frustrated at the progress of a project, then I walk away from it, take a focused break. You just cannot force it, you know? During that break, I drink tea, read Scripture, listen to music.
My motivational playlist is such a mixed bag: soca to gospel to hip-hop to bachata, to blues. Jazz ain’t nothing but soul – – it’s a music form whose heartbeat is improvisation! If I’m feeling really adventurous, I play the saga of Cindy Mayweather (Janelle Monae’s LPs full in order.) I may work on several pieces in the same sitting to keep myself from tightening up.
“Glory”, ink on card, 9″x12″
6. What creative mantra or quote resonates with you the most?
“To make something that resonates, it should always come from an honest place.” — Jorge Gutierrez
7. How has creativity impacted your blog or business?
Creativity fuels everything. I work at it, keeping in mind, What can I share that can benefit those who are reading and interacting with me? How can I make this product better?
I share insights into my creative process while holding to this idea that there’s more than one point of view and multiple ways to do something. I believe in the power of creative expression to help people heal their broken places.
8. What inspires you to create and achieve your goals?
I’m inspired by other people who have conquered insurmountable obstacles and beat the odds. Ultimately, what I do is serving somebody else. That motivates me to keep going.
9. What does it look and feel like when you’re in creation mode?
Transparent moment: I am intense. When I’m in the zone, time and physical stimuli (including cold, hunger, other people talking to me) just melt away; I get pretty absorbed. I really become that archetypal passionate artist, haha.
Creation mode is synesthesia, my senses cross…It feels like Ornette Coleman Lonely Woman, meets John Coltrane A Love Supreme, meets jasmine oil mixed with sandalwood, meets cheesecake from Rosa’s, meets raw wool. With a dash of sandpaper lol.
10. What is your initial reaction when you realize you’re in a creative rut?
I pull back and shut down. I go meditate. Getting still lets me calm enough to break out with something new.
“What’s Her Name”
11. Tell us about a recent moment where you felt “stuck” creatively?
Toward the end of phase 1 of the Happy Place Project, I felt myself getting vague and redundant, straining to push out new content for the newsletter. I decided to close it on a high note and relaunch later in the spring.
12. What do you do to get past feeling blocked? Do you have a strategy?
I take a focused break: I go meditate. Getting still lets me calm enough to break out with something new.
Then I journal: I may draw a mental map to retrace my steps, free write all that I’m hearing in my head, and sketch something to untie the knots in my mind. I can get much clearer once I see where I really am mentally, gain some perspective. I recommend it for anyone.
13. Have you relied on an outside source to get you out of your rut? (eg. support group, coach etc.)
Most definitely! I field concerns and questions to my mastermind group (Shout out to #Takeover2016!), use my friends as a sounding board, or meet up with a mentor for lunch.
14. What thoughts go through your mind when your blocked mindset lingers longer than you’d like?
You get attacked with “I can’t” thoughts that really come from negative feelings of being behind the 8-ball. Gotta block those out because they’re discouraging. “This is temporary. You will break through. What is the missing piece here? Be patient with yourself, Mia.”
15. If you take a self-esteem hit or if you become negative how do you combat that?
I pray, I respond to falsehood with truth: I am not a failure, I’m a work in progress. I’m not a mistake, I’m fearfully and wonderfully handcrafted by God; I’m not lost; I am exactly where and how I am supposed to be at this moment.
“We Watch You with Weary Eye”, ink on card, 9″x12″
16. Can you predict when you’re about to go through a period of being uninspired?
Sometimes, I can see it coming, after I wrap up an enormous/major body of work where lots of my energy went into that. I want to keep creating, but I’m zapped and just need another rest period. I usually slow down in the summer.
17. Think back on past moments when you felt stuck. Are there any common threads?
I get stuck on the very brink of realizing something, close to a breakthrough or right on the line between incredible work and one stroke away from overworking this. So that suspension can be exciting…and intense.
There’s a tinge of dysphoria, that sharp unease, and dissatisfaction. I get agitated when what’s on paper isn’t matching what’s in my head. The frustrating part is that its me versus myself, so no one can really parse it out for me…and I get wildly introspective.
18. What do you focus your energy on when you’re feeling stuck?
I throw myself into something new, to channel all that excitability into something constructive: baking brownies, or mono printing, or starting a whole new painting, or returning to an old work. I dance it out.
19. What tools or tips would you offer to other creatives (in general or specifically in your field) who find themselves uninspired?
Unplug from all your devices for an hour or so. Take a break from social media for at least one day a week. Journal, journal, journal, journal, journal, journal. Also, get a passion planner. They’re full of inspirational tidbits and help you feel more organized/productive.
20. We all have people we look up to. Who’s creative work inspires you?
Ashley Coleman, Veronica Marche, James Jean, Firelei Baez, Wangechi Mutu, Spencer Charles, Kashmir Thompson, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, and countless others.
“The Abyss”, ink and acrylic on canvas, 18″ x 24″
21. Do you have a creative support system? Shout them out!
I’ve got plenty! 😀 #Takeover2016: Brittany, Alice, Sherrelle, JoEllen, Tyshia, Auntee Rik, Summer, Ashanti #Blkcreatives stays in full effect a growing community. Also much love to ILL LYT family, and everyone in UpEarly & InFormation.
22. Have any creativity related questions you’d like to ask me?
Who/what inspired you to come up with this blog? Whose work (writing, music, art) resonates with you?
Monika’s Answer: There wasn’t a particular person or blog that made me want to start this one. I had wanted to start one for years but it just took me a while to pull the trigger. There are probably way too many musicians to count but you can get a peek inside my music taste here. Art wise I don’t have a particular hero but my favorite painting would have to be this one by Umberto Boccioni.
When it comes to writing my favorite book is The Great Gatsby and an incredibly close second would be George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones). The fact that this entire other world was all from his imagination is SO impressive! Plus he’s a Jersey boy and as a Jersey girl I’m obligated to root for the home team.
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What do you think of Mia Anika from Spectrum?