Miena A.R. (shortened name), who goes by ‘mienar’ online, is a freelance artist who focuses on animated illustrations, with the subjects being environments and backgrounds.
Miena began sharing her artworks online on Tumblr in January 2018, though having practised and pursued art since 2013. She is a self-taught artist, with most of her sources of art education being tutorials on Youtube, art forums, etc. Miena’s current illustrations and animations commonly include the themes of ‘breathlessness’ and ‘calmness’, with constant appearances of animated rain and rustling plants in her works.
– You are a self taught artist. What difficulties did you have to overcome and for how long did you have to experiment to finally discover what you really wanted to do?
There have been multiple kinds of difficulties that I’ve gone through to end up at where I am, and I’m pretty sure most artists have gone through this, and some of them being: tackling and mastering all the art fundamentals, trying out different mediums, trying different styles, finding your voice, and in my opinion, the most significant of them being finding your identity.
It honestly did take me years to finally discover what I wanted to do, I started of wanting to be a character design artist, to a concept artist, to making motion graphics, then eventually illustration and animation, which is the present time! I did my best to teach myself all those fields since those areas aren’t available for further education at where I’m at, but learning those via the internet and Youtube has been insightful and helped me a lot in terms of helping me magnify my truest wants.
– You have started as a traditional artist. How did the shift to digital art occur? Do you still work with traditional mediums?
The shift from traditional art to digital art occurred due to several reasons. One of the main reasons being that I was, at the time, experimenting with different mediums, and trying out digital art was in my list. Though, the reason that made me stay in digital art is as I was trying out digital art, I became fascinated with motion graphics and animation, so I spent a lot of time learning everything I could in terms of adapting to the softwares (GIMP), to the tablet, etc., just so that I could at least try some animating, it sort of took me months to get used to the medium, so it was inevitable that I have grown fond of it.
However, despite all that, at the time I was still stuck with traditional art as my main field and digital art was secondary; it’s only in 2018 that I have fully converted myself to have digital art as a primary. I slowly got out of traditional art due to the fact that I couldn’t keep up with the anxiety of wasting paints, wasting papers and canvases, and how almost whatever I paint/draw is almost permanent.
As someone who often needs to experiment and consistently paint and practise to improve and learn, which means there’d be a lot of failed paintings, sketches and concepts, it sort of pained my heart to always see those appliances go to waste really. Contrary to digital art where if you mess up, you can just “Undo” and it’s a clear canvas again, with no wasted paints and tools.
– Your work focuses on natural and urban environments. What inspired you to focus on these themes?
To be fair, nothing really inspired me to pursue environments. Actually, around January to March of 2018, I was struggling with finding my identity as an artist and as a person at the same time. I more so just wanted to have something that I can draw consistently without as much thought. (You could see in my Tumblr archive: mienar.tumblr.com/archive/2018/3 that my artworks are completely different that what it is. That’s due to the fact I was still looking for myself and for my artistic identity).
However what had pushed me to try drawing/painting environments is because I realised that at the time, I knew how to draw almost anything but environments. I knew the fundamentals of environments, like perspectives, rules, etc. however, it would always come out stiff, so behind the scenes during the January – March phase, I took the time to properly practise my environments and find ways where I could make environments not look stiff and make it look like interesting too (I’ve sort of talked more about this environment topic in this IG post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BrVX2MiBxqT/)
– Many people commenting on your work say that they find your work calming and relaxing. I’ll agree. But what are your original intentions in regards to your audience?
Thank you! I’ve actually never said this anywhere before, but making my art calming and relaxing was initially an accident on my part. My first 2 breakthrough environment drawings, “garden child” and “we open at sunset” were meant to feel rustic and grunge. Upon growing up and teaching myself art, I loved, and I still do, the works of Anna Pan (annaxiin), who was really well-known on Tumblr, and was inspired by her style upon making those 2 drawings, though upon posting those 2 artworks, I started receiving messages saying how sweet and calming it looked, and those messages resulted a light bulb to light up within me (laughs)!
I then proceeded to try out making more paintings with calming elements like rain, wind, moving plants and trees, etc., then everything sort of worked out from there I guess! It always astounds me how this niche has somehow gave me the opportunity to pursue both my love for animations and illustration in a single medium.
Admittedly, things do get challenging sometimes when there’s the label ‘calming’ presented upon my artworks. It can get really tough making these kinds of positive-ensued artworks during the times when things are going rough and difficult for me behind the scenes, have it be personal problems, mental health, etc. I try to avoid making art when I’m feeling down; I’ve tried it once and it was rather alarming how much of my feelings were subconsciously translated into my art – I never really tried that again, to be honest.
– What environment do you want to create for your audience?
I think, in terms of my environments, I try to not make artworks with other people in mind (unless of course it’s a commission/client work). Though admittedly it can be really hard not to, especially when you always have these little whispers in your head saying like “this person said they like it when you do ABC”, “this person said they don’t like XYZ”, etc., so I really do try my best to prioritise making environments that I want to see and be engulfed in first, and if people like the artwork, then great! If not, it’s fine, it’s not a big deal.
But in general, the environments I want to create are the kinds where you just want to immerse yourself in and forget reality, even for a second. My environments can range from a scene in outer space, or a large breathtaking field, to perhaps a scene of an untidy bedroom or a messy desk, yet immersion will still be something that I seek upon painting/animating them.
– Occasionally you are posting videos with your work process. Personally I believe that this shows a strong and confident artist who cares about her/his art. What is your personal reasoning when you initially decided to share your process?
One of the few reasons as to why I share my processes to begin with, is being that I often receive tons of questions of how I do what I do, what I use, my step-by-step, my techniques, etc. Sharing these process videos are the least that I could do to help those who are interested in the making of my artworks. One day, I’d love to set up a Patreon or something that only consists of just tutorials, advices, overcoming struggles and challenges, etc., and to just be able to help other artists on their artistic journey. It’s a lot of work to set it up and to actually put down all that I know and all that I want to teach somewhere, so that’s why it’s still not available (truthfully, compiling and editing all the process videos alone are really time-consuming). However, sharing these processes are hopefully an effort on my part into slowly making that goal of teaching come true.
“I really do try my best to prioritise making environments that I want to see and be engulfed in first, and if people like the artwork, then great! If not, it’s fine, it’s not a big deal.”
– Your art displays a character in natural and urban environments. What is the inspiration behind it? Does it represent someone or something?
The character that often appears in my artworks, a boy with a bob hairstyle and large glasses, actually does not represent anyone or anything, including myself. I’ve often been mistaken by others that the character is how I look, but it’s just my original character I came up with.
Though there is some sort of backstory upon the design of the character, which is that I really wanted the character to look super generic and invisible so that the main focus will be on the environments and the character will be somewhat ignored, at the same time, I realised that the psychology behind having a character (despite my intentions of wanting it to be invisible), having that sort of personified concept in an artwork, have resulted into some sort of reliability to the viewer and creates more immersion into the artwork.
– As a freelance artist, how do your freelance work balance with your personal work or projects?
To be really honest, it does get super tough balancing my personal works/projects with my freelance work. Sometimes my freelance work can really take up most of my time, leaving me no energy for personal art – and sometimes when I’m more free and available, I tend to be left uninspired and unmotivated to get something going for myself. I really wish I could give a positive answer about this (laughs)! But I think it goes to show that there will always be things that we have to work on and improve, and in my case is to learn how to split my energy for freelance work and personal art.
(And to anyone who’s reading this and have been waiting for my art, I’m sorry and thank you for waiting! I really am doing my best to work things out!)
– What is your primary equipment on creating your art?
My primary equipments are my iPad Pro 12.9”, Procreate app, and also Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet Medium and Photoshop CS6 (extended)!
– What are your artistic ambitions?
At the moment, I have some minor artistic ambitions and some major artistic ambitions. Some of my minor artistic ambitions is to get back on track in terms of consistently posting artworks every week again, to actually complete my personal art instead of leaving them to be sketches, and to also try out making editorial illustrations, book cover mockups, poster, mockups, etc.
Some of my further and more major artistic ambitions is to, as mentioned earlier, set up a platform and teach what I’ve learnt as a self-taught artist there. I also have been trying out making my own apparels, clothes and other stuff, so if one day I’ll get to share and sell them, that’d be a dream come true! Otherwise, some of my personal artistic dreams are that I’d love to make some sort of immersive exhibition of my animations through projectors or something, or have a gallery showcase!