My art as tattoos

I feel very flattered when people send me pictures of their tattoos, designed to look like my artworks. It creates a very intimate bond between them and my art and I feel very lucky to be part of that intimacy. Here are some examples of my art turned into tattoos:

The original artworks made by me:

My academic demons

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My work “In the bush” (2007, mixed media on antique postcard) is featured in this intriguing academic research, published and written by PhD candidate Line Henriksen, at the Department of Gender Studies, Linköping University, where she’s been working on a research project on digital monsters called “IN THE COMPANY OF GHOSTS – HAUNTOLOGY, ETHICS, DIGITAL MONSTERS”!

Girl

The artist

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The pollen season is here and I am so damn allergic. I feel fatigue all the time. It makes me less focused and self-disciplined. But it gives me time to plan my career a little. What do I want to achieve with it? What am I all about, as an artist? What is the core to my art and how can I use it to change the world a little bit?

I used to define myself as an artist by thinking that ‘I will show all those girls who bullied me in school that they were wrong, I’m not a loser nor a freak – I am amazing and I can be whatever I want to be!’. But that’s not who I am – I am not driven by revenge or any negative energies. I am beyond that now. I don’t need to prove myself to anyone. I want to get the negativity OUT of me – through my art; all the traumas, the pain, the rage and the humiliation. I don’t want it inside of me. It doesn’t fit. To be forced into being a victim never suited me. I hated it. I never asked for other people’s negative energy. So it doesn’t belong to me, that’s why I need to get it all out. Some people might look at my art and think that ‘the artist who made this must be a very angry or depressed person’. Yeah, I used to be, when I was still living inside the traumas. But as a person I am very vital and happy in my nature.

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“Funny Games”, 1997

Many people think I love horror movies, dark music and horror literature. But I think it’s dull. One dimensional. I need more than that. Although I do enjoy Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Interview with the Vampire, The Ring (American version) and old horror classics like The Changeling, The Haunting and The Innocents. But that’s about it. To me – Haneke is true horror. Especially the realistic elements of Benny’s Video and Funny Games (Austrian version). Reality is far more scary than any horror movie could ever be. Perhaps that’s why I am so drawn to the whole true crime documentary genre.

My art is often called “horror art” and I am described as a “horror artist”, which is fine by me but it’s not really true.

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“Bacon Colored Demon” by Mia Makila, 2008 – acrylic on canvas

 

My art is full of horror elements. Sharp teeth, hungry jaws, bloody lips, crazy eyes, rawness and aggression. But they are also playful. Colorful. Full of absurdities and humor. Full of life. And sexual curiosity.

I am trying to use both the horror of my traumas and the playful core of who I am to create something that is both comfortable and uncomfortable to look at. If my art was just about the horror, people would feel too uncomfortable to take in all the heavy themes I’m dealing with in my art. And if I would just be funny and cute about it, it would create a distance and take away from the seriousness of what I am trying to say. It wouldn’t be as sincere and raw – which is my thing. With the perfect balance of horror and humor – the dark and the light, I can make people stay in front of my artworks and let them FEEL things instead of trivializing important and forgotten things about the human mind, soul, heart – or make them so uncomfortable that they would leave.

And sometimes, I get messages like this in my inbox: “Like you, I suffered from a long abusive marriage. Never thought a second it was possible for me to go through all the bad things. But your experience gives hope to all of us. Thank you Mia, you are an amazing Human Being and a gifted Artist.”

When you create a space for people where they can feel safe and be free to think and feel whatever they want – they will open their hearts and minds – and perhaps look at themselves through my artworks and discover new things or rediscover things they forgot about themselves. Or to know that their painful experiences as a human being doesn’t make them a freak but that it makes them beautiful. To know that their pain, loneliness, sadness, sexual nature and perversions, their shame, their rage and their traumas doesn’t make them less of a person. That they’re not alone.

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That’s what I want to accomplish with my art. That’s who I am as an artist. To make the world a more open and honest place. To create a space where people are allowed to FEEL instead of just judging, numbing, closing off, shutting down and ignoring who they really are. What a challenge.

What a fun challenge.

Day 1

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Work in progress

It’s the first day of my new journey where my creativity is the main focus. I’ve been painting again for the first time in a very long time. All the hard work I’ve put into my self-empowerment has paid off. The anxiety is gone. It was there whenever I stood in front of the easel for over 6 years. Today it felt smooth and easy to paint. I wasn’t scared, I didn’t feel any pressure and my mojo created that sweet flow I’ve been longing for. I started with the face, like I always do. For the first time I gave my Lolita demon green eyes, the same shade as mine. Perhaps my art will be more personal from now on. I feel so much closer to myself now. More connected. I’m sure it will be visible in my future creative projects as well.

I tried to create time blocks so I could practice self-discipline and focus without distractions. One hour at a time, where I’m totally focused on what I’m doing – no multi tasking, no looking at my phone or talking to other people. After an intense hour I take a little break and then go back for another hour of intense painting. I think it will work.

I’m so drained. My eyes hurt. I will rest now and continue painting tomorrow.

I feel really happy.

Redefining my “creativity blockage”

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Some of the artworks I’ve done during my so called “creativity blockage” (I couldn’t make  them all fit). This makes me confused – this is what creativity blockages looks like?…

One of the best things about the human mind is that we have the power to change the way we look at things – and the new perspective will present us to a whole new world. We can go from being in a bad place to a good place. We can be sad and then something will make us laugh. We can be wrapped in negativity – but if we untangle ourselves from the gloomy and judgmental mindset, we are able to see things from a more positive viewpoint. This what I’ve been doing lately, and it’s definitely becoming my new hobby.

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I got this new easel as a birthday gift when I turned 30. That’s when I just stopped having fun when I was painting, and the creativity process turned into a struggle – and 6 months later, I stopped working all together. I felt blocked, and it would last for almost 7 years.

I have been thinking a lot about my creativity blockage lately. I don’t feel blocked anymore – I am simply waiting for the right time to start working in my studio again. I want to feel ready. I am almost there now. The creativity blockage lasted almost 7 years, but was it really a blockage, perhaps it was something else?

It felt like I was in a war with myself. Forcing ideas, self-loathing, wanting to change my style because I thought it wasn’t good enough, feeling disgusted by every single brush stroke that seemed wrong, the stress, the identity crises – who was I when I wasn’t making art? I also saw my career slip away – and I let it happen. Since I consider my art to be an extension of myself – a big part of me was missing. I felt cut in half. I felt amputated. I felt desperate and confused. And very sad. It was almost like a friend had died. I felt nauseous just walking into my studio. I felt scared. Scared of the constant failures. I worked. I cried. I screamed. I hated whatever I was working on. It always ended with me painting over the thing with black paint and then throwing it in the garbage. And then I cried and screamed some more. It was the worst kind of torture an artist can imagine.
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Stockholm, 2011 – one of the most painful years of my life. My creativity had abandoned me – or was it me who had abandoned my creativity and perhaps even myself?

I wrote this in my diary in 2010:

“It is more natural for me to not create now than to be creative. My paint and brushes are stored away in transparent boxes and waiting for this paralysis to disappear so I can use them again. 

It’s like all of me is in this invisible, transparent storage box that separates me from my true identity, and from my desire to create. A coffin if you like. For I feel dead in so many ways. It is not an exaggeration or emotional debauchery – but an honest feeling that is rooted deep inside in my core. ” 

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The making of “My Neighborhood”, 2012 about the three buildings where I lived together with the abuser.

2012 was a real turning point for me. I was diagnosed with PTSD and that’s when I began my inner journey in trauma therapy treatment. I slowly began to come undone – and layer after layer of pain and fear started to melt away. Things started to make sense and I could see that everything in my life was all wrong. My relationship, the environment, my behavior, feelings and thoughts. Everything. I could see that I had abandoned myself completely. I knew I had to change everything in my life. I knew I had to be brave enough to say goodbye to everything I had ever known to be real and true.
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Now I am here. Living a new life. With a new way of looking at things. And I have decided to look at my creativity blockage as something that was painful but so very helpful. When I stopped painting in 2010 – I didn’t really stop making art all together – instead I was exploring digital art. I didn’t really consider it art at that time. I was just playing around in PhotoShop. But with time, I got really good at it. During my creativity blockage, 2009-2016 I’ve made over 70 digital artworks. I am considered to be one of the finest digital artist in my genre. In 2013 my digital artwork “The Crash” was included in an all-digital group show at Strychnin Gallery in Berlin.
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When I put my career to sleep I suddenly had all this time to spend on myself. If I hadn’t been blocked I would never had the time to work so hard to overcome the PTSD and the traumas. I would still have all that cluttered chaos inside my mind. I feel very grateful to myself that I had the courage to change everything I needed to change in order for me to be happy again. It’s been such a long journey. I’ve also had the time to ask myself what I want to do with my life, who I want to be and what really matters to me and what I can live without. And now I have found a more honest place for my creativity. My art will be more personal from now on. It’s been an incredible time of awakening and self-empowerment. I feel very lucky to have reconnected with my core again. Through the process of growth and enlightenment I have also found my true love.
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With Johnny, 2015

When I look back the creativity blockage I can see it wasn’t so much an artistic blockage as it was a self-abandonment. Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing in myself. I was punished by haters and started to project their hate onto myself. I shrunk into myself. I started to believe I wasn’t even worthy of my own success. No wonder I just stopped working as an artist.

I am slowly reclaiming my creativity, my talents, my strength and my success. I have learned so much from this involuntary hiatus and I will use it as experience to add to my future career. And I will never abandon myself again. Ever.
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And when I look at all the artworks I’ve done during this blockage (around 150) I can’t help but smiling. THAT was a blockage – really?

Red

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Photo of me from March 2006, when I began dyeing my hair red

Today marks an important anniversary for me; I have been a fiery redhead for 10 years now! It might sound a bit superficial to you – but there is a story behind the transformation.

I was born a blonde. When I was a little girl, my dad used to tell me that my hair was made of gold and if I would brush it a hundred times – I’d turn into a real life princess. Of course it never happened and I thought my hair looked more like hay, or something less exciting.

When I was only 18 years old, I met my abuser He was a schoolmate and my first real love – and I stayed with him for five years. Those years would change my life forever. I lived in a secret Hell, and I didn’t tell anyone about the abuse, not even the cops that came to our apartment because the neighbors heard me scream for help. I kept it all within myself and it grew, and grew like a black tumor inside. I started to loath myself – I projected his evil onto myself. His dark visions of me turned into my own twisted self-images. I thought was fat, ugly and gross, the same words he used to describe me with.

Before I met him, I was a very strong and expressive young person and I tried to keep the memory of that girl alive in my soul – and when I finally found the courage to end the marriage, I looked for her to find strength. But the trauma had blurred the memories of myself and it was harder than I thought to find the way back to myself. I felt lost.

I didn’t know who I was anymore. I felt like I was this blonde shadow of someone I used to be before I turned into nothing but a victim.

Three years after the divorce, in 2006, I felt like I was in a place where I could start looking for a new me, instead of trying to go back in time and try to rescue myself before the trauma happened. I hated the position of being a victim and I made a promise to myself that I would do anything to overcome my horrible past. Unfortunately, at this point, I was struggling with a new trauma  and it became the final straw – so I slipped into a deep depression. Even though this was one of the hardest times of my life, I kept myself alive by working with my art – non-stop. I created art (the first collection horror art) to distract myself from the pain I felt inside – and it’s safe to say that my creativity saved my life. It’s not the first time – and it won’t be the last.

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“It’s All In My Head” by Mia Makila, 2006 [mixed media on canvas]

My Hell

“My Hell” by Mia Makila, 2006 [mixed media on canvas]

I kept pushing through the pain with my will to survive and to thrive through my art. To make something beautiful out of the grotesque and ugly that was happening to me at the time. I felt like I was going through a metamorphosis in my art – it changed so much, both technically and in expression. That’s when I really started to change as a person too. And I decided to become everything I wanted to be – and to not only overcome my traumas, but also to become who I was meant to be in this world. I knew it was a real challenge, but I also knew I could do it. I would recreate a new version of myself, piece by piece and by facing all my demons (that’s why I make so many demon portraits). I would become my own work of art.

I began this metamorphosis by dyeing my hair red – to make a real visible change. Then I put myself in therapy. I wanted to use every expression I could find, every possible way to disassociate myself from who I used to be. “His wife”, “the victim”, “the submissive”. I now looked so different from her.  It was liberating.

That is the story behind my red hair. I highly doubt that I’ll ever go back to being blonde again. I love my fiery hair, it illustrates so well what’s in my heart. I am still a work in progress. I’ve failed a million times and I’ve fallen down the dark rabbit hole, over and over again. It has taken me 10 years of hard work to overcome my traumas and I’m still not quite over them yet – but at least I am on my way to achieve something extraordinary. I can feel it.

The fiery red will guide me on my path. It’s so much more than just a color. So much more.

How people live with my art

Sometimes people send pictures to me of how they live with my art – here are some:

The uncompromised expression

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 When I am working with my art – or anything creative – I am only interested in finding powerful and strong expressions.  I always start with the eyes – if there’s no genuine expression in the eyes or if they lack intensity, I won’t finish that piece and I just move on to another project. As soon as I start to compromise my vision, I end up feeling lost –  and when the creativity turns into a struggle I lose the joy of being part of it. Sometimes it feels like starting a new painting on a blank canvas is like taming a beast (the canvas being the beast  of ‘nothingness’ or something dead and empty).

I’ve always disliked a blank space – especially an empty white space. My desire is to fill the void, to make an expression, a statement, to tell a story and to create meaning where there seems to be no meaning at all. perhaps that’s why I like to fill the white canvas with a dark background. The darkness can hold all kinds of secrets within that black space – but something all white -without any hope of details inside, really creeps me out.

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My art is extremely personal and even though I don’t use my own face in my Lolita demons, they are all part of me and my fears, my rage, my pain and my inner voice. They are all self portraits in a way.

Sperm Wounds is my rage, Scrollan is an expression of  the helplessness I’ve felt in my past, Stigmata is about my physical hell.

The stories I share in my art, lays in the emotional expressions of my demons –  especially visible in the eyes, smile and body language. The portraits are simple in the compositions, there aren’t many details in the background, if any at all. But if you make eye contact with the characters, you will find endless shades of emotions and details in there.

Detail of Fire Head

Detail of Fire Head

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Through my stories and artistic expression, you get to share my emotions and the memories of humiliation, sadness and horror – and what it’s like to be a human soul in a world where heaven and hell are both centered inside our minds and hearts – and also outside ourselves.

In every corner of life.

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Self portrait, 2011

The artworks of 2015

July - Working on "Sperm Wounds" - the first painting in almost 5 years!

July – Working on “Sperm Wounds” – the first painting in almost 5 years!

I haven’t really been painting since 2010. It’s been a long break (and a long journey back from the blockages) and I’ve missed it terribly. My work in 2015 is dominated by two concepts – rage and home. There are a lot of floating or flying houses, perhaps because I spent the first half of the year without a home of my own. And my Lolita demons are not scared anymore – they are furious! They are taking back whatever people took from them, especially their sexuality and humiliation. I am slowly healing and it’s reflected in my art as well.

Artworks from 2015

 

 

The inspiration for 2015’s artworks

The inspiration for my art this year has been coming from a lot of different sources – old votive paintings from Mexico with the addition of words and stories at the bottom, the American folk artist Grandma Moses and my own art, especially from 2008-2009, just before my long hiatus due to the creativity crises.

 

The unfinished works of 2015

Sometimes I start some projects but never finish them – perhaps because they lack something or because they feel flat and dull.

I’m so looking forward to the new year – and I can’t wait to be painting, drawing, making digital art, writing and expressing myself in every artistic way possible! Happy new year everyone – 2016 will be an amazing opportunity to be courageous and confident in our work, and empathetic and kind in our hearts. ❤

The stories behind my art: “Another Place”

Another Place

Another Place, 2007 – digital

2007 was one of the best years of my life. I was totally lost in that magical flow of making art, experimenting, exploring and being creative almost all hours of the day. I was having fun and trying out new techniques and styles.

Only 2 years earlier, I was only painting (see photo below) – and now I was making collages,  using mixed media, paintings, drawings and also digital pieces.

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A painting from 2005 (“Cries and Whispers” – referring to the 1972 film by Ingmar Bergman.)

Another Place was my first real digital artwork and I finished it in late 2007. I had only used PhotoShop to edit the photos and selfies for my blog for a couple of years, but I had no real training, just playing around and trying stuff out. While making Another Place  I could feel how I was growing as an artist and that the digital media was just right for me and my artistic expression. I was just having so much fun!

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The work in progress.

Another Place premiered in my solo show at Hera Gallery in Stockholm in January 2008:

And then one month later it showed up in my solo show in Reijmyre outside my hometown:

Even though I had so much fun making Another Place, I made it during one of the hardest times in my life and I was deeply depressed. That’s what the piece is about – that other place in life where only darkness rule.

When I finally came out of my depression, I thought it would be fun to make a new version of Another Place, because I had reached another place in my life. A place where light ruled, and where the colors were brighter. So I created a second version of it in 2012.

Another Place (second version)

Another Place (light version)

Another Place (light version) in Inked Magazine, 2014 and the darker version in Calle Magazine from 2010.

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