Graduates 2024: Mia Sankey: Illustration

“With all the materials available on campus it was just a matter of pursuing what you intend to achieve… outside of scheduled studio hours I would often come in to work with friends in the studio.”

Please tell us a bit about your work and your influences

“My current project The Tempestuous takes about a metaphorical approach of sequential illustrations featuring beasts in an elemental form. The meanings behind this series of work are abstract and open for interpretation, however there are employed feelings of fear and anxiety rooted from uncertainty. We as humans are notoriously domineering and afraid of matter far larger than our own frail, tiny bodies. This underlying sense that nature is an immense force that is unchangeable only enhances the beauty of our world, furthermore we continue to adapt and embrace. I really wanted to enhance this feeling with large scale, expressive charcoal drawings.

A lot of my work is particularly inspired by indie folk music such as Of Monsters and Men OMAM and the Oh Hellos. I love this sense of narration which are employed through their use of poetic language. My work explores themes surrounding folklore and a variety of cultural customs. Recently I have been fascinated by the Bulgarian Kukeri and the Central European Krampus.”

What made you choose your course?

“After having had previously studied English Literature, Psychology and Fine art for my A-Levels, my artistic practice was something I had really wanted to pursue further in. I have always been deeply fascinated with different forms of storytelling, such as graphic novels and illustrated books. I believed that studying Illustration BA could deepen my awareness of the conceptual image generation, whilst further refining my skills through independent practice. I was really drawn towards Brighton University for their contemporary attitudes and well diverse backgrounds.”

 Can you tell us about your favourite part of your studies and how it helped the development of you and your practice.

“I particularly enjoyed the independence the tutors encouraged us to develop, overtime I was also able to become more practical within a studio-based environment. An important lesson I had learned whilst studying at Brighton was to always take the initiative, don’t wait for an opportunity to come to you. Personally, I think this is a key skill that reflects the successful development in the professional industry. With all the materials available on campus it was just a matter of pursuing what you intend to achieve. Outside of scheduled studio hours I would often come in to work with friends in the studio. I don’t think this is an opportunity I will be able to have as easily after graduating so I wanted to ensure I made the most of my final year.”

 Can you tell us your plans after graduation?

“I intend to apply for a PGCE course in Art and Design, commercial/ freelance illustration may not be the right path I would like to pursue. Aspiring to teach the younger generation of our emerging creative industry and sharing the contemporary ideologies of what I have learned here at Brighton.

However, I do not wish to stop drawing, I have come too far to stop. Ideally, I could see myself owning a quaint little studio near my home in West Yorkshire, full of work to one day display for friends I met here in Brighton. Even after another 20 years, I hope this won’t be our last farewell.”


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