JuneMineyama-Smithson (Freelance Artist & Graphic Designer)

MAMIMU (June Mineyama-Smithson) is a London-based Japanese artist/graphic designer on a mission to spread optimism. Lecturer at UAL, D&AD judge and speaker at Birmingham Design Festival and Design Manchester. Her bold joyful work has been featured internationally on ITV, Creative Boom, Design Milk, SCMP and Cow Parade Niseko.

London, UK • September 19, 2022

What led you into design?

A long-winded path. I came out of college with a degree in English Language and got a job in an airline company in Tokyo. Getting bored with the day job quickly, I enrolled in an intensive evening course to become a web designer. Freelanced as a web designer for a bit, only to realize that there was so much more to learn. That's when I decided to study Graphic Design in London.

Tokyo Crossing by MAMIMU

What does a typical day look like?

My day starts after sending off my husband and son. When I have time, I meditate. I’m not into spiritual stuff, but I do believe in the power of visualization, affirmation, and goal setting like athletes do. After that, cycle down to my studio to work till I pick up my son from school. Come home, work a bit more or help with school homework till family dinner time.

Once my son is in bed, the usual conversation with my husband (David Mineyama-Smithson, BRU:D) is “Are you working tonight?” Depending on how busy we are, we work or chill together.

We are both self-employed, and our work doesn’t necessarily stop when we leave the office. We wouldn’t have it in any other way, though. No one is telling us how many annual holidays we should have, and we could spend 2 months in Bali in summer if we wanted to (which we have done before and intend to do it again).

What's your workstation setup?

June Mineyama-Smithson in her studio

Where do you go to get inspired?

Everywhere. I believe you can find inspiration anywhere. They are like hidden delights waiting to be found. I love turning into the seemingly mundane scenes like a swimming pool, a rope on the beach, and store shutters into playful patterns.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

My golden Adidas trainers. They make me feel like I’m as good as gold! You can’t underestimate the power of colours.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

Oh, a tough one, as if you are asking a mother to choose her favourite child. But if I must…

ITV Creates Collaboration with Dr Tara Swart
I’m proud of my collaboration with neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart for ITV. I had a vision to create ‘optimum optimism’ by combining art and science. On my collaborator wish list to ITV, I put down psychologist, sociologist, or neuroscientist and as if by magic I was matched with Dr Tara. The project was a dream from start to finish.

Lockdown Mindscape

In the middle of the global pandemic in 2020, I asked friends in various international locations to send their physical and introspective views. The result is a geometric interpretation of mixed emotions in a form of bilingual motion posters. I thought it was important to visually document how we were experiencing the uncertainty. I was lucky to collaborate with very talented motion designer Chris Sellars-Meadmore to express everyone’s emotions so eloquently with the movement.

Lockdown Mindscape by MAMIMU
Lockdown Mindscape by MAMIMU

What design challenges do you face at your company?

I am very lucky to wear many hats: artist, graphic designer, and lecturer. But trying to push creativity in all areas, especially when I’m busy, is challenging. But if I don’t push myself, no one will. So I am my own bitch boss and a cheerleader at the same time.

‘Infinity Door’ Art Installation for Covertry 2021 UK City of Culture
Public Art for The Margate School
Lecturing at London College of Communication (Photo: Preksha Shah)

What music do you listen to while designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Create your own luck. Invite your dream projects by visualizing them as self-initiated projects. Show the world your passion and what you are capable of.

Consider getting a mentor or a co-mentor. I asked Dani Molyneux to be my co-mentor because she has been constantly producing great work and makes me feel like I need to up my game. We check in with each other whenever we can or need support. It's been great, and I totally recommend it as a way of being accountable.

Dani and I even co-authored an article ‘Jealous Much | Creative Jealousy and Various Shades of Green’ to tackle the negative feeling, especially on social media, which sometimes feels like the bombardment by everyone else’s beautiful work and achievements.

Speaking about Creative Jealousy at Birmingham Design Festival (Photo: Claire Leach)

Anything you want to promote or plug?

My NFT Residency Collection ‘When a Visionary Dreams’ with Voice. Inspired by Jonathan Swift’s quote, “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others”, the tender and hypnotic collection aims to create a space — neither for apes nor cats — but for calmness, clarity, and quiet empowerment within.

I decided to do NFT Residency because I didn't know what I was doing when it comes to minting and all. But I’m pretty chuffed that the project has already been featured in NFT Evening and NFT Calendar.

Quite Empowerment Gold Edition NFT
When a Visionary Dreams NFT installation at Cult Vision London
When a Visionary Dreams NFT installation at Cult Vision London
MAMIMU NFT Collection