The Artwork of Mia de Milazzo

It’s been over a century since shōjo manga was introduced in Japan, these comics targeted at young women typically having the same romantic relationship focus as their post-World War II counterparts in America. And while shōjo manga continued to evolve stylistically as well as incorporate various genre elements, it wasn’t until the early 1990s that the base concept behind them really changed; no longer were they concerned with emphasizing a girl’s romantic needs, rather they touted a woman’s desire for self-fulfillment. And, perhaps, this shift helped inspire a new breed of female artist, ones that create their manga- and anime-inspired women just as comfortably for comics as they do for fine art galleries. Featuring the likes of the stylishly sexy and sometimes aggressive Fafinettes from Fafi, the art deco and art nouveau influenced creepy-cute works of Junko Mizuno, and the surreally feminine creations of Camilla d’Errico, these ladies have spawned a multitude of imitators and disciples in their wake, one such being Spanish artist Mia de Milazzo.

The Artwork of Mia de Milazzo

Though Miriam Alvarez had been drawing all her life, she was only able to seriously consider making it a professional career after attending a Salón del Cómic. Having gathered contacts and clients at the event, she began a freelance illustration journey that quickly found her a home at the Kamikaze Factory Studio, where she used the artistic alias Mimi. Evolving beyond the more traditional shōjo manga style of her early works, Alvarez’s aesthetic took a decided turn in 2011, becoming similar in style and appearance to Mizuno’s pieces. And, almost as if to acknowledge this shift, Alvarez adopted a new pseudonym, Mia de Milazzo. Creating illustrations that were embodied by bold outlines containing broad planes of deep, smooth color, she referred to her work during this time as “kawaii noir”, denoting its mixture of cuteness with creepiness. Associated during this time with Lolita in Wonderland, a project that united Lolita fashion appreciators throughout Spain, her illustrations would begin reflecting the more common and even fetishistic elements of the subculture. Having since refined a more personal style, rebranding herself simply as Mia Alvarez in 2015, she did venture into the designer toy movement during her four short years under the Mia de Milazzo alias, creating two sculptural works inspired by her illustrative art.

Mia de Milazzo’s The Red Lady

After digitally revisiting an older tribute illustration she’d created for Little Red Riding Hood, Alvarez embarked on three-dimensionally rendering her design. Using her drawing as a guide, she hand-sculpted the form in an oven-bake clay, finishing her unique piece by personally applying acrylic paints to it. Titling the completed work The Red Lady, its unusual bent-over stance subtlely emphasized a bestial nature, one eluding to the rabbit-ish ears adorning the piece’s hood and ball-like tail on its cloak’s posterior. Adding a touch of Disney‘s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the equation, The Red Lady is grasping a freshly bitten treat that’s coated in skull-shaped ooze, reminiscent of that film’s depiction of the infamous poisoned apple.

Mia de Milazzo’s Little Sheep

Alvarez’s second sculptural foray, one more in line with her Mia de Milazzo work at the time, was Little Sheep. Alternatively known as Bonnie and Mutant Sheep, this Mizuno reminiscent creation was executed digitally. After devising the turnaround illustrations for the front, sides, and back, Alvarez was aided by Iñigo Bilbao in creating the 3D computer model, from which the final piece was printed in Belgium. Airbrushing the coloration on herself, Alvarez’s Little Sheep lacks some of the more enticing details of her digital concept illustration, such as the golden flames adorning her boots, the simple heart tattoo upon her thigh, and the drip-shaped ears emerging from the bulbous pink woolen hairdo. Yet, by the simplification of the form, the tendril tips atop her head take on the illusion of being ears while the one from under her skirt doubles as a tail. With only the one copy ever having been known to be made, it seems like Alvarez’s designer toy undertakings weren’t destined for a broader audience.

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