I have a new happy place.
Sometimes when I find these rare serene pools of magic and inspiration my selfish streak comes through and I want to keep them to myself for secret, indulgent pick me up moments in times of disgruntled annoyance. But Eva Monleon Cifo would not approve, for she is far fairer and kinder than my greedy alter ego, and her creativity is about spreading a sunnier smilier experience, which surely does not bode well with keeping newly found craft talent to one’s self.
Her doll creations are the epitome of ‘kawaii’, the Japanese word for cute that has become a genre of kitsch playful toy-like art to which many dedicated crafters are these days inspired by. With names like ‘doli donkey ears’, ‘doli bank robber’ and doli pink meringue’ they are hard not to love. I felt honoured to ask her about her work and life, beautiful details and snippets of which appear on her gorgeous blog, Misako Mimoko.
Hello, how are you today?
It’s twenty past eleven in the evening. I’m at home listening to music and writing some emails, it’s a nice but bit chilly night. I feel happy and tired after having worked all day.
What have you been doing recently?
I’ve been finishing some of my dolls, planning and thinking about new stuff, cooking biscuits, waiting for the sales to buy these black shoes I really want, and then buying them (hooray!), going for walks in the evenings, having dinner on our tiny balcony, watering twice a day (hot weather is killing my plants!), and developing an animation about medicine for a video presentation…
What materials or mediums do you like to work with best?
I’m completely smitten with all kind of fabrics, but especially linen and vintage fabrics. It’s pretty unhealthy. I fall in love with a colour, a texture… I can’t go to too many flea markets much because I come home laden with lots of bags and there’s no more room! I think that I’ll have to work on bigger designs in the future just to use all the material I’ve stored.
Who would be your dream collaboration/who would you like to work with artistically?
Maybe Lili Scratchy or Something’s hiding in here or Elisabeth Dunker or Yoshitomo Nara or Marc Boutavant or Friends with you or Sirena con Jersey…
My close friend emedemarta and I are thinking about doing some embroidered purses together and I’m preparing some tutorials for a new Spanish craft magazine (we love crafts). It’s going to be a collaboration between several crafts bloggers, looks amazing.
I’m also persuading my partner, the illustrator Gabriel Corbera, to make silk printed plushes, maybe someday…
How is Barcelona’s art scene different from other cities you have visited?
Barcelona is a highly open minded city, it’s really receptive to what happens around the world and so excited by style that loves being up to date. It’s possible that art and city day life are strongly influenced by what we think about life, our sense of humour, the sun or being by the seaside… There are many gallery-shops as Iguapop, Vallery, Todojunto, or Duduá… where you can buy a hand-crafted toys, independent publications, originals, join a cake contest or an amigurumi workshop, enjoy live music…
What inspires your work?
I’m really taken with 1930s-60s culture, old Walt Disney cartoons, classic films, children books and illustrations… and Japanese art, mostly kawaii.
How long do the dolls usually take you to make?
It depends on the doll. I spend a whole day or two making the body and face, then I use to leave it for a short time. I crochet some accessories, or I try different bows, berets, and hats on… just to see what happens.
One of the lasts dolls I’ve made was a gift for a friend, I wanted to make a book doll or maybe a popular character from literature, but it was harder than usually and I needed about four-six months to finish it… Each doll has a very different personality, sometimes I know what they want to be almost at the beginning, other times I have to try and try again…
At what age did you realize you were creative?
As any other little girl a loved to draw, I spent a lot of time on my own drawing. I always dreamed having a good job, (I was a very good student!) and making art as a hobby. One day our line drawing teacher (I was studying Science at High School) asked us to draw an architectural piece from the street. I chose a typical fountain. He encouraged me on doing Fine Arts or Architecture so I considered it seriously because I was getting tired of studying.
I always thought that people are creative doing things they really love to do. But the body needs some exercise, imagination and creativity too. You can make it bigger or let it die; I think that we don’t need to just make art, life is easier with a little bit of imagination, and humor too! I think taking life too seriously isn’t a very good thing at all.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I don’t know life is so weird… It’s funny how things and situation changes. I’ve been working as a designer for the last twelve years and I never thought I would start doing my little things again.
There’s an old saying that says that you have to be aware of what you dream, because dreams sometimes happens. I hope that wherever I’ll be in next ten years I enjoy doing things as if for the first time.
Besides art, what are you passions or interests in life?
There’re so many things… I enjoy mostly the whole part of the day. I love to walk, nearby my home there’s a small hill with a wonderful view of the city and the sea, it makes me feel so good… Nature is one of the things I need the most. Swimming on the quiet blue sea, good food, gardening, dancing, going for a drink and having long talks, and tea, I could drink tea all day long…
Which are your favorite artists/illustrators/photographers?
Calder, Dubuffet, Duchamp, Miró, Cage, Hopper, Niky de Sant Phalle, Tinguelly, Tove Jansson, Satie, Wharhol, Richard Scarry, Elisabeth Peyton, Stella Vine, John Currin, Damien Hirst, Stella Vine, Makiko Kudo, Yoshitomo Nara…
Tell us a secret!
I (and my partner too) hate the telephone so much… Telephones are always bothering us, it interrupts what you are doing. We work at home so we always use internet to communicate.
Sometimes we stare in front of the ringing phone, looking at the number and asking ourselves who can be calling us, there are so many companies calling trying to do business… We only pick up if it’s a known number. The phone doesn’t ring very often fortunately!
What is the story behind the name ‘Misako Mimoko’?
Japanese names always make me smile. They are funny names as they sound similar to Spanish words. In Spanish if you say Misako Mimoko what people understand is: “I pick out my nose” or “I pick out a booger”. It would be almost the same “me saco mi moco” (me sako mi moko).
As we are used to Japanese names Spanish people doesn’t realize the joke, but children begin to laugh as soon they hear it and I love to use it.
If you were showing Amelia’s Magazine around your city, where would you take us?
We could go to Montjüic first, it’s a shallow hill by the sea. There’s a fortification on top overlooking the harbour, museums such as Fundació Miró, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Caixa Forum, swimming pools, the Olympic Stadium, as well as gardens and winding paths that cover some slopes, the Font Màgica and Mies Van Der Rohe’s pavilion at the foot of the hill.
We should go down to La Rambla, visiting La Boquería market and walking along some narrowed streets of the old city in Barri Gótic. We could stop to have a drink and go shopping on the Borne Quarter, there are some of the coolest independent shops in the city. The beach is really close to here and you can go along the boardwalk, have a bathe or have lunch by the sea.
“We should visit Gràcia, it is a district full of bars and restaurants with terraces and there’re plenty of small shops and independent designers too.
There are so many things to do in Barcelona… oh! You can’t miss city flea markets Els Encants Vells, you can find new or secondhand stuff there, and Sant Antoni, a second hand book flea market.”
Misako Mimoko is the eigth wonder of the world in my opinion. I wonder how quick I can relocate to Barcelona and live in my happy place full time…
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