Doodling is a form of therapy for many people. Even those of us who don’t necessarily categorize ourselves as “the creative type”, have more than likely picked up a notepad, at some point or another, and subconciously started drawing out lines and shapes just to ease the mind. But what makes a doodle a doodle? For us, it’s the unique ability to clear your mind and allow your pen (or pencil) to do the rest. Whether you naturally start creating random figures, or perhaps your mind is more systematic and repeats itself in thoughtful patterns, it’s all about watching your subconcious unfold onto a physical medium. In many ways that’s what makes artist Mira Mikati (AKA Mira Doodles) so noteworthy. While her doodles can range from irregular tesselations to sketchings of actual emotions captured on paper, she always portrays something real and deep-rooted throughout her work.
1. What is the earliest memory you have of yourself doing something creative?
It was definitely in middle school. I used to steal the chalk from the boards and take the sharp end of my compass to engrave 3D letters in it. I also remember doodling actually, now that I think of it. This one blue piece full of swirls I was so proud of I stuck on my wall in my room right above the light switch.
But I think the thing I most remember was not necessarily me creating, but more so how I noticed art very early on. I would stand in front of paintings in people’s homes forever, taking in the textures, brush strokes, the colors, the light and shade contrast in clouds for example. I’ve always been mesmerized by color, light & dark contrast and texture.
2. What kind of creative work do you do?
More like, what don’t I do. I think as creatives it’s hard to get boxed in and many of us can understand that. I’m a wordsmith, a visual artist (a painter mostly), and sometimes I’m even my own canvas with my alter egos (I love transforming myself into a ‘character’ for a night). And I most definitely love wearable and functional art.
My main painting medium is always in flux. I started out painting in oils for example, moving on to acrylic, and now you’ll mostly see me hovering over a watercolor palette and some gorgeous thick paper, with a pile of pens and a bottle of India ink. Oh and spray paint, I want to spray paint everything. Cans are sexy.
3. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I had a smart comment i took out about me not liking to talk about myself, because *ahem* I somehow wrote a whole dissertation below…lol, enjoy:
I was born & raised in the ‘burbs of Detroit…of Lebanese descent. I lived abroad for a minute before coming back for college. And that’s where things kinda got confusing. I was good at too many things, I loved doing too many things. So, long story short, I got an English degree with a bunch of minors, and decided to go to medical school…only to drop out in…sigh..third year. And I sigh, because this is the point everyone looks at me like I’m crazy. Well, I might be, but eh, living my truth yo.
After falling into a deep depression, you know that whole, ‘what am I doing with my life’ situation, the constant tug of darkness for us creatives I guess, I went into marketing with my now ex-husband. Yeah, got one one of those too. Also, co-founded a tech startup and created a bunch of apps, a couple food blogs, and all while almost opening a vegan bakery (and no i’m not vegan lol).
If you can’t tell, overachiever is my actual preferred method of existing, and during this time, I fell out of love with life, I painted but only as therapy and was always frustrated with not ‘fitting in’ my life and circles. It all bubbled over at some point a year and a half ago, when I stepped away from my company, my entire life in Michigan…and I came to Miami (my sister lives here)…and somehow I’m still around. Who knew.
Moving to Miami was definitely a big proponent in my evolution as a creative. Being around other artists at HGAB, and just Wynwood in general has definitely re-invigorated me. I was finally allowed, or I should say, I finally allowed myself to explore who I actually am, judgement free, embracing the less pretty bits, and channeling them via my brush. Also naturally, I gravitated towards creating to deal with my personal life falling apart. It was how I let myself heal. Through that, and dancing.
So, I shared all that to show that your path to being an artist or a creative doesn’t have to be linear or obvious. But at some point whether you are an artist or not, you decide what you want to be, and you work at becoming it.
Fun fact: I got into watercolor because it was more ‘mobile’ since my life was in flux as it fell apart around me, and I would be able to paint much easier than with my bulky acrylic materials, easel and canvas. All I needed were a couple brushes, a watercolor pad, a palette and I was in business. Funny how life works, huh?
4. How would you describe your specific style? What makes you unique?
I would say ‘surrealist doodles’ describes my style and that encompasses: line work, dot work / pointillism , abstract watercolor, a focus on color and specifically the color black, and playing with negative space. I’ve definitely found my style as an artist with paper art.
The subject matter is based on thoughts, sayings, feelings and being visual with it. Basically, I personify abstract concepts in my art. For example, regret becomes a neon liquid stream being poured out via tears in a puddle to the masses lined up for it. That came from the saying: don’t cry over spilled milk.
5. What has been some of the biggest influences and sources of inspiration in your work?
Early on, it was Wajih Nahle, a prolific Lebanese artist. In college and still to this day, my best friend’s work Hiba Jameel. Always and forever Salvador Dali. And these days honestly, artists I find on Instagram. And it ranges from tattoo artists, makeup artists, watercolor artists to photographers. I go down the rabbit hole on there and it’s hard to not get inspired. There are so so sooo many talented people online.
I’m self taught so I like to watch technique and process videos too. I’m always looking for new materials to try, new paint formulas and colors. Neons have definitely been my jam lately. I do like that I am exploring art vs being taught it because i approach things differently and end up using unconventional methods that add an interesting layer.
The subject matter however, comes from a place deep within. Usually the recesses of my brain, the frayed edges of my emotions, the center of my insecurities. I stare my dark spaces down and they give me something to work with.
6. Do you have any rituals to help you get the creative juices flowing?
I don’t force it. I let ideas percolate. I do have an extensive ideas list I add to when I’m inspired, so that when I’m ‘dry’ I have concepts to explore. I will say, I create the best when I’m miserable. Like seriously, when I’m upset, unhappy, depressed, that’s when my favorite works happen. And in a way I love seeing my progression as a person via the work. It’s my way of journaling I guess.
Usually, I get in the zone late at night, at a freshly cleaned organized desk, in a dimly lit room with a table lamp (at HGAB), music blasting over a speaker. I sit there with a pen or brush in hand and I succumb to it. And I don’t stop until I’m spent as the sun is coming up.
7. What have been some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on? Any current projects you’d like to mention?
I think collectively my entire work from this past year. I recently showed almost all of it as part of my first show, and my first art basel show too (which was at HGAB actually), and I had an extreme sense of pride looking at my wall. Knowing I had created it, and seeing my progress as a person via the different pieces. It was like gazing upon my transformation, from my relationship with others, to delving deep internally to the connections that were made between both. It’s definitely a blip from my life that will be with me always.
I’m getting into patterns, textiles and bigger pieces of art next. And you’re definitely going to see a jewelry line from me. Let’s keep all that on the DL though. 😉
8. What are some of the best lessons you’ve learned while developing your craft? What valuable advice could you offer to other Creators like you?
Patience. Patience. Patience. Don’t force the work. When you’re tired, don’t draw in that final line, you’re going to mess it up and ruin all the work you did for 8 hours.
Test. Do test out different manufacturers of materials, explore new mediums and try to apply your craft outside it’s usual medium. Meaning, if you usually work with canvas, try painting on a wall, or a shirt.
Collaborate. Create with or for others.
Be humble. Don’t get too stuck on the money. Sometimes, having your art have a home is more beneficial than it being stuck in storage.
Tell a story. Otherwise, it’s just paint on a paper or canvas. There’s always a story, don’t be afraid of sharing it. People will connect with your work more.
Mess up. Don’t worry about ‘wasting’ paper or a canvas. Go for it, see what happens. I’ve ripped up more paintings that I can count, and burned a few for good measure too.
Keep learning. Whether it’s from those around you, or online, keep your skills fresh, explore new materials and techniques, and maybe even make your own.
9. Where can we find more of your work and follow your journey?
I’m pretty active on Ig. Follow me at @miradoodles. Expect a lot of art, but also a lot of lessons, and definitely more silliness than you can handle at some point :p
Also, my website miradoodles.com…a lot of fire things coming soon on there.