Q: Firstly, tell us about yourself!
A: I live in the Copenhagen area of Denmark. I am an artist that works primarily with pencils and paper, but do also paint from time to time. But I consider myself a drawer. I work primarily as a commercial artist, but in the last couple of years I have focused increasingly on more personal projects that comes from a more private place. I have two kids, a boy and a girl, who are now 9 and 5 years old, so I am over some of the more physically exhausting hurdles of motherhood.
Q: How do you continue to engage with your art practice alongside raising children? Do you have a dedicated studio space and routine, or do you work from home in between other things?
A: I work from a studio inside my house. I have space for both my business and my art practice. To live just next to your studio has both it advantages and the opposite. Good thing is that I can step to and from work in a couple of seconds, but it also means that I sometimes have difficulty leaving work. It is a constant balance act - as I need to be present with my kids when they are at home, but also be present at work when that is required. But through the times when they were (really) small it was actually quite convenient. I used to have my son fall asleep on a daybed in my studio while I was working. He loved falling asleep he while watching me draw - and I loved the company.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you and how much time do you manage to carve out for your own work?
A: Now that my kids have grown and are attending school and kindergarten 5 days a week, I am fortunate to have at least 7 hours most days to work in the studio. This is mostly illustration and graphic design. But sometimes when there is an ebb in the commercial commissions, I work on my personal projects. Other times when the commercial work is in flow I only have the nights to spend on creating my personal art.
Q: Have you come up against specific challenges as an artist and mother? What were they and how have you navigated these challenges?
A: Well, I am married to an ambitious man and being an ambitious person myself; I want to do good in every aspect of my life. Both as artist, wife and mother. But I have been the primary caretaker for the first couple of years of my kids’ lives. And that has been and still is challenging at times. Especially when there is an extra need for your presence in any of the other given roles. When there has been a demand work-wise I have been fortunate or/and courageous enough to combine the mother- and the artist roles into a hybrid; The Artist Mother! I have worked while the kids were napping (I have been blessed with good sleepers!) and in the evening and sometimes at nighttime as well. This has been extremely exhausting and the house (and I!) has looked like crap, but I have been at peace inside, because I got to work on my art. And I know that I would have been even more cranky if I was forced to put my art aside for a long period. I believe that it is good for the kids seeing me being passionate about something and get enlightened and energized by something else than them. Hopefully they will carry that with them as they grow and learn to be passionate about something themselves.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
A: What I hear again and again is: Enjoy it now while the kids are still young - it is not going to last long! Suddenly you’ll wake up and they will want to be with other people and do other things than spend time with you. So enjoy the intimacy, dedication and unconditional love you share up until they teen-age! So I try to enjoy the here-and-now and savour the attention my kids are giving me these days.
Q: Who are your role models? Who or what inspires and encourages you?
A: I am inspired by my own mother and grandmothers. None of them were artists, but very dedicated mothers and inspiring and strong women. Artists that I find inspiring is Astrid Lindgren (writer) and Louise Bourgeois (visual artist), both having their family background as driving force in their creative career.
Q: How has the experience of motherhood impacted your practice on an emotional/intellectual level? Has it made you view yourself/your work differently? Are there things that influence your work now that you didn't think about pre-kids?
A: I think having kids brought more depth into my life. I feel like my life has more perspective now. And time is much more perceptible. When I was younger I didn’t care as much about time as I do now because it is so visible that time passes with the kids growing and my body changing. Also I feel time is limited in every way; in the studio, with my husband, with my friends and being alive in general. There are so many emotions tied to giving birth to another human being, which for me was the greatest and weirdest thing I ever experienced in my life. In a way I gave birth to both of my kids but also a new me. I was confused in the beginning about who this new me was, but now I feel more confident about who I am and what I want out of this life.
Q: If your child(ren) were asked “Tell me about your mother” what do you hope they would say? Are there particular things you are trying to show/teach them as an artist, a mother, a woman?
A: I hope that they would say that I am the best mom ever!!! I hope they carry my love for them with them wherever they go and never doubt that I am here for them. I also hope my kids see a passionate and creative human being. I try to teach them to be honest, driven, free and unashamed of who they are. To keep their word and be a good friend.
Q: What drives you to continue to create work?
A: I think that it is a hard question to answer. I just get very restless and moody if I don’t get to spend time in my studio. There is a ‘sweet spot’ in the creative process where everything flows, I forget time and it almost feels like I am in another mental state. My cheeks get all red like I am exercising. I guess I am just addicted to that feeling of being in flow. The transformation of a thought or a feeling into something physical and also the wonder of what is next, keep me going.
MIA MARIE OVERGAARD was born in Denmark, recently relocated from Toronto, Canada, she is now living in Copenhagen. Mia has been working as a professional artist since graduating from the Royal Danish Academy of Architecture’s School of Design in 2006. Mias creative curiosity has allowed her to span a variety of media and creative fields - from illustration to fashion, graphic design and fine art. Mias distinctive illustrations and has appeared in numerous books and publications worldwide. Her illustrations have adorned the pages of books such as "The Beautiful - illustrations for Fashion & Style” by Gestalten, Illustration NOW”
and “Illustration NOW! Fashion” by Taschen. London, Paris, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark and Tokyo are among the locations Mias work has been exhibited. Clients include Gap, asos, Cosmogirl/NY, The Telegraph, Wall Street Journal, Neiman Marcus, Marie Claire, VW, Carlin Group Paris and Premiere Vision Paris. Alongside her professional illustration career she has consistently been working on her personal drawings and paintings which functions as an outlet for her personal experiences in life and is created on different terms than her commercial work.