October 15, 2019

Five Questions with Melissa Miyamoto-Mills: Designer at Ueno

Curiosity is like our jet fuel. It’s what gets us up and to our workspaces before the alarm goes off. It’s what keeps us pushing boundaries in search of solutions. It’s the happy juice that feeds our muses.

Ueno designer Melissa Miyamoto-Mills knows a few things about this topic, and she’ll be inspiring us at In/Visible Talks 2020 with her talk on “Cultivating Curiosity”.

Melissa describes herself as “a concept-driven designer who operates at the intersection of art, design, technology, and culture.” She interned at HUSH in New York, helping to create branded experiences for Nike, Viacom, Yahoo/Tumblr, and Zaha Hadid. In the Bay Area she’s worked at Office, NewDealDesign, and, currently, Ueno. Check out some of her experiments on Instagram at @m3lissa.work.

Melissa recently shared some insights into her creative process. Naturally, we’re now even more curious about her.  

What is your relationship to the creative process?

“Tumultuous! I used to get really down on myself, like on a personal level, when I was not feeling creative. Now I treat the process more like endurance training. It’s less about peak performance every day and more about putting in the time and effort to build a base that makes starting less intimidating. I focus a lot more on creating an environment and headspace before I embark on projects.”

How or where do you find inspiration?

“Instagram is, of course, a big one. I think it’s amazing that you can watch an artist progress, experiment, and change day to day. I also love how stories can show you the personality attached to the entity, and it’s a good platform to see works in progress.”

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

“As long as I can remember, I wanted to be an artist. Somewhere down the line I decided that wasn’t a ‘real’ job, but I continued to be drawn to drawing, painting, sculpting, metal-working…and eventually digital design.” 

What was one of your biggest creative challenges?

“Honestly, my mental health. I have a tendency to make my work my worth, and that can be crippling for creativity. That’s why it’s super important for me to keep things in perspective and do other activities that give me some endorphins every day.”

What drives you to create?

“I think I’m always searching for beauty. I had a professor who said she tried to let her eyes feast on as many things as she could in a day. I feel the same way, and it’s that much sweeter when you’re the one creating.”

Bonus Round: What’s on your desk?

“Fidget cube, photo of my boyfriend and me at Ueno’s 5th birthday, visa mugshot of a co-worker who moved to Iceland, and many many Post-It Notes.”