Mia Warner is a traditional signpainter, calligrapher and hand-lettering artist based in East London. Mia is responsible for creating the bold ‘roll up your sleeves’ artwork on our 1st floor, painted during the cold spell when the ‘Beast from the East’ hit London. We managed to grab a chat over a drink to find out more about Mia’s passion for sign painting…
I grew up in the middle of the countryside, in Gloucestershire, very different from London. I went to Brighton to study graphic design and lived there for 4 years. And I feel that Brighton eased me into city life, as London now feels like a million miles away from where I was raised.
Studying graphics was quite an interesting experience as it almost taught me more about what I didn’t want to do rather than what I did. As much as admire and appreciate graphic design I didn’t have a very natural talent with it. But I was very drawn to typography and the processes that happen before fonts become digital. I had a really good tutor in the 2nd year that introduced me to all of those processes. He introduced me to calligraphy and sign writing. He showed me some incredible signwriting artists that are working like Joby Carter, who paints all of his incredible carnival rides and machines. I was introduced to a few calligraphers and books and it all just spiralled from there.
It’s been quite a slow-burning process from uni. I moved to London and was working as a live-in nanny for a while and doing the odd A-board. I just started getting asked about more boards, then bigger boards and then food trucks and shop fronts. And it got to the point where I was able to jump in full-time.
I’ve always been very excited by it. It was a passion that I always had, but I didn’t know I had before. I loved bubble writing when I was a kid at school, I was more obsessed with the covers of my school books rather than the content. I think it’s always been there, it just took that path to make me realise I could do it as a job.
The This Next Time Year project was a bit of a dream to be honest. I was approached and from the off they wanted to use local artists. And I really value clients who have an investment like that. So, from the off I had an idea of what was wanted. I was given a strong and punchy phrase ‘roll up your sleeves’ and given free reign. It was a lot of fun to have a play and run ideas past the team. I wanted to make something that would stand out yet work in the space.
So, where will I be this time next year? I’ve recently started collaborating a lot more with other signwriters working in London. We’re speaking about putting on an exhibition and working on some big group projects. I’m very happy with what I’m doing now, so want to carry on as I am but involving other signwriters with more collaborative projects.
See more of Mia’s work via her website and Instagram.