by Kate Teves
I’ve always known my inner self was something of a nit-wit. But I never knew this inner pain-in-the-toosh actually had a name.
Now I do!
According to Swedish artist Mio, it’s officially called a “tatis” and, thank goodness for all of us, Mio has found a way to faithfully illustrate the tatis nature in her amazing sackofpotatis comics.
I discovered Mio’s illustrations on Instagram and immediately fell over the moon for her work. Her drawings are angsty-but-light, edgy-but-kind, self-deprecating-but-happy.
That’s a tricky balance that almost nobody can achieve.
So I reached out for an interview. Cuz why not!! Keep scrolling!
Where Is home?
I’m Swedish, but I’ve lived in the Netherlands for the past six years. They don’t have the same brands of chocolate and sweets but they make up for it with excellent cheese.
Tell us about your journey to drawing Comics. How did it start?
I drew my first character when I was about twelve. I needed a way to record the terrible (word) jokes that I came up with. It was mostly just my brother and sister who saw them. They share my sense of humor, so that worked out great. The character, Toddy, can be seen at the right.
I stopped drawing Toddy, but my need to push my jokes on people never waned, so I picked it up again recently, coming up with Tatis by chance.
Do you have any insights about why a cartoon succeeds or fails?
I’m still very much learning that, but it seems to me that if I’m not that crazy about it, neither will other people be. That being said, sometimes the stuff that I think is okay-ish ends up more liked than I expected.
One of the reasons I like your art so much is that it feels very free and spontaneous. Is that a conscious effort on your part?
That’s great to hear! I find that through the process of my education, I left behind a lot of my happy spontaneity in favor of thinking carefully about my work having relevance, being meaningful, technically polished, having a target audience and so on – before I even started making it. Sack of Potatis is my designated space to reclaim that part of me, to have some fun and be a bit silly without thinking too much about all that heavy stuff. So in a sense there’s definitely conscious effort in there.
What role did art play in your life as a child?
I don’t come from a family of creative people, so the closest I came to art growing up was probably the stacks of “The Phantom” (by Lee Falk) that my dad kept on his nightstand. Making things, however, has always been a natural part of my life. It’s been an escape from bad times, a way to cope with loneliness, but most importantly a way to express myself. I can’t imagine not being able to give feelings a visual outlet. To give a silly example, I was obsessed with Johnny Depp as a young teen, so of course my walls were covered with drawings of Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonka.
What is the best advice you ever received about being an artist?
Oh boy! I’m terrible at taking advice, but I think a lot about what Neil Gaiman said during his commencement speech at the University of the Arts Philadelphia: “Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people.” Look at what others are doing! Try it out! The terrible manga phase I went through a few years back was a stepping stone to drawing more expressive faces, for example.
Tell us about an a-ha moment in your life when you realized something big and grew as an artist?
At a point during my education (I’m in my last year of photography) I realized - or rather, accepted - that my better work comes from a place of very personal, honest emotions. That can feel extremely vulnerable. But it made my art more relatable, and gave me some confidence that other people can understand me, something I’ve always had a bit of a struggle with, not just in the artistic sense. To me, being a person and being an artist is pretty much inseparable.
When you’re not making art, what kinds of things are you doing?
When I’m not working on my graduation project, you’ll likely find me snooping around in antique shops or sitting at a café with my laptop, desperately trying to work out the plot of the current story I’m writing. All while scrolling on Instagram until my battery runs empty. I run on tea and inspiration.