Mimi

Leung

My name is Mimi Leung. I make illustrations, paintings, animations and songs.

I am an artist because it’s how I process my thoughts and feelings whilst I try to make sense of the world around me.

My work is all about a playful exploration of meaning, beauty, joy and self-expression.

I grew up in London, but I now live in Shepparton, where the space and solitude is good for my soul. I might live in Australia, but I’ll never call a pair of trousers pants.

In the past I’ve lived in London, Hong Kong, Yuendumu, Alice Springs and Melbourne.

I studied a Master's of Communication Art and Design at the Royal College of Art in London. It was often a blur but always an adventure to explore and create in a multidisciplinary environment with so many talented peers from all sorts of backgrounds.

I think of myself as someone who is easily distracted and always flitting between forms and ideas, who was put on this planet to try and find something meaningful through creating. I spend a lot of time daydreaming, because I love how the mundanity of life can spark brilliant fantasies.

My studio is currently in my garage because I need space to make a mess and experiment. The three things currently inspiring me the most are Philip Guston, flowers and my daughter’s irrepressible scribbles.

The highlight of my day is almost always related to something my daughter said or did.

Most of my work starts with a kind of stream-of-consciousness list of words on a particular topic, followed by loose pen-and-paper scribbles, to try to capture the general composition and feel of the piece. Then I refine it by researching visual references and specifying things to include in the work, sketching the piece out more fully in Procreate before taking it to Photoshop or Illustrator for final art.

I often get asked how I choose my colours. I think it comes from thinking of colour as an expression of light, and a love of trying to ‘see’ all of the colours in even a monochrome surface. I used to hand-paint all of my illustrations using gouache on paper and spent a lot of my free time mixing up heaps of different tones and shades. I also worked at an art centre in Yuendumu where my main job was mixing big buckets of different, very specific colours every day. I think these experiences helped me develop my sense of colour, how to make them and how they work together. I usually have a general colour theme in mind but it's loose and flexible. Colours pop up in my mind and I want to use them.

When I don’t draw or write or do something creative, I feel like I’m going totally nuts. It’s really important for me to dedicate time to personal work, because I get to experiment with new processes and mediums; the things I learn feed back into my commercial work somewhere down the line. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of painting and trying to find a good balance between my love of a well-defined line and my obsession with thick, unruly, expressive painting.

One of the most formative experiences of my career was when I lived in Hong Kong. The chaotic, hot and humid, clash of high and low culture, rich and poor, city and country, West and East, old and new, colour and greyness, privileged and forgotten—really challenged and inspired me. Being an artist with access to so many of these different worlds really shaped me and my artistic practice.

When creating my work, I try to make something dynamic, engaging, and unique which evokes a feeling/s about a certain thing.

I’m really excited to experiment more with small-scale projection works because I think it has an intimate, enchanting quality that has the potential to engage in a commercial setting.

The best thing about working on commercial projects is the potential of getting your work seen by a bunch of different people. I’m most known for bright colours and wacky forms, like the work I did for 7-Eleven’s Slurpee rebrand; also the Melbourne Art Tram design, which won the People's Choice Award in 2016.

Here’s a recent live drawing I created for a Deloitte gala dinner in Melbourne. I loved experiencing the drawing on a large scale as it was projected from my iPad Pro to a giant screen that stretched across the stage in a massive room at Crown Casino.

Not long ago I created an animated projection work for Bendigo Council. It became part of White Night Bendigo and was an incredible learning experience that allowed me to see the evocative and engaging potential of creating work for this medium.

One of the most physically demanding jobs I’ve ever done was painting a mural on a lumpy wall down a steep side street in Surry Hills, Sydney, for Tinder Social. I was able to work around a few technical delays and climb up and down a ladder on a steep slope for three days (whilst three months pregnant). People are often surprised to learn that I also love animating and making giant, painterly paintings.

One of my favourite projects recently was reimagining the Apple logo for an Apple Live event. The creative freedom and trust from the client was awesome and I loved working under the pressure of an extra tight deadline.

I really loved the creative freedom I was entrusted with in this brief from Mute magazine—this series of editorial illustrations was based around ideas of ‘chaos’ and ‘positive feedback’ and I loved being able to explore these abstract ideas in a playful, ambiguous way.

I’ll always remember one of my first commissions for The Guardian UK ’s G2 publication—mostly because of the cockroach I trapped under a glass whilst working through the night in a dingy motel in Cairns, waiting to catch an early morning flight to London via Hong Kong.

Professional recognition is something I resist putting too much emphasis on, though it does feel good when it happens. Some awards currently lining my trophy room include the Central Australia Advocate Awards for Excellence (for a painting I created called Fall, based on The Fall of the Damned by Rubens). I also won the top student 'Form Prize' at school for so many consecutive years that they had to invent a new prize so other people could get an award too. I’m not competitive, you are.

That’s me! If you want more, check out my full folio and Instagram. Got a brief? Contact me and the good folks at Jacky Winter.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.