5 Questions, 1 Designer: MAMIMU

I am June Mineyama-Smithson (aka MAMIMU), a London-based Japanese graphic designer/artist on a mission to inject optimism into the world with her bold colorful design. Inspired by the philosophy of Japanese Kimono artisans, I create joyful patterns from seemingly mundane scenery from London, Tokyo, New York and wherever I go.

Originally from Tokyo and having lived in Hong Kong and London, I’ve developed a unique style that combines contemporary aesthetics with Asian sensibility.

My work has been featured internationally on YCN, the Dots (UK), Cow Parade Niseko (Japan), Pattern Observer, Ello (USA) and SCMP, Milk (Hong Kong). She has been invited to talk at YOOX Net-a-Porter, UAL, Design Manchester, ustwo, and SCAD Hong Kong.

Interview Questions:

1. How do you define your work?

Joyful, geometric and playful.

2. Where/ how/ who do you get inspiration from?

I love creating patterns from seemingly mundane. 18th-century Japanese Kimono artisans found beauty in everyday life, from fish scales to tortoise shells, and distilled them into beautiful minimal patterns. Transplanting this idea into the 21st century, I create playful patterns inspired by manhole covers in Tokyo, store shutters in Shoreditch and ropes on the beach in Bali. 

3. Best career decision you have made to-date?

Going freelance. After I graduated from London College of Communication, I worked as a full-time graphic designer in branding. But by going freelance I progressed my career fast and widened my network. I had to learn fast as well but it’s been wonderful to work at some of the top agencies like Wolff Olins and Moving Brands.

4. If you could have done something differently in your career to date, what would it be?

Nothing. Every mistake is a learning opportunity and I am not who I am without the path I took.

5. Any advice for young designers / creatives?

Know your strength. Think about one thing you are good at. Are you good with colours? Are you a strategic thinker? Do you have a keen interest in the spacial environment?  Even as a junior person, you can add value to the creative process to form a project. Don’t be shy.

Also, make the first move at work or social situations. Say hello and introduce yourself and let them know that you are interested to know them. This is not a date, so there is no point in playing hard to get. I figured some people probably wonder if I even speak good English or not, and might not talk to me to save their embarrassment. So it’s best to speak up first and let them know I’m safe!

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