Last October, M.I.A. released a self-titled book documenting her beginnings as a fine artist before deciding to pursue music. She studied film-making at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, lived in a house of artists in West London, and was on her way to fame in the art world. While some already know that she designs her own album covers and a lot of her own clothing, she’s done much more to innovate within the mediums of photography, graphic design, film, and animation than most realize.
1. She Performed and Exhibited Work at Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India
M.I.A. performed at a concert and showcased her artwork as part of the inauguration of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, an international art show, on December 12, 2012. The performance was her first stage show in India. Her goal was to make her art and music open to a new audience, saying, “I want to take art out of galleries and make it accessible to the people, especially children.”
2. She Released the Art Book M.I.A. in October 2012
M.I.A. released a book out of the blue last October, but it was important. It contained stories, images, and unseen artwork from her early years as a fine artist and photographer before making music.
3. She Collaborated with Beck’s to Design a Beer Bottle Label
Last summer, M.I.A. was one of six artists chosen to redesign a Beck’s beer label. The label features a yin-yang symbol and collage art resembling an M.I.A. record, and was inspired by a trip she took to India.
4. She Had an Art Exhibition for the Release of /\/\ /\ Y /\ at MoMA PS1
For her 2010 exhibition at MoMA PS1, M.I.A. presented several digitally-inspired works on canvas that covered four walls. She also screened the controversial music video for the single, “Born Free.” The event and art promoted her album, /\/\ /\ Y /\, and included a short concert, dance party, documentary showing, and art showcase.
5. She Created “Proto-Viral” Youtube Videos For Songs on Her /\/\ /\ Y /\ Album
M.I.A. made “proto-viral” videos that looped visuals and sophisticated animations on her “World Town” Youtube channel. They have since been deleted, but while they were up, many saw these videos as art pieces that supplemented her music videos and added dimension to her songs.
6. She Created a Series of Art Websites With OkFocus For Her /\/\ /\ Y /\ Album
Ryder Rippz and his company, OKFocus, created several sites for M.I.A that act as virtual art pieces, where fans can create their own “Internet art.” A few of these sites were platforms for debuting her songs before the release of /\/\ /\ Y /\, and they all include the digital aesthetic of her album. She and Rippz collaborated on Vickileekx, Facefacefacebook.com, Thinkyoumightgetshitforthat.com, 4thepeopleontheboat.com, and bedroomtothehallwaytotheroadtotheworld.com.
7. She Pioneered the GIF
During a talk at MoMA PS1 to promote her self-titled book last November, M.I.A. revealed that she was essentially making GIFs before they became widely used or popular. She did them using herself as the subject on her best friend’s computer and on an early version of Photoshop. She said, “It was not great, but it was a way for me to learn his computer. I made this frame-by-frame. I’d cut the background out-now it’s just a click of a button, but back then, that was what I did for two weeks. I’d make this loop, which is now like a GIF, and that was enough.” Doing these early animations and hand-made GIFs became the foundation for more complex works that she’s created today.
8. She Was the Tour Photographer and an Art Director for the Band, Elastica
M.I.A. met Justine Frischmann backstage at an Air concert. They eventually became good friends, and M.I.A. even moved into her home at one point. Besides designing album covers and directing videos for Frischmann’s band, Elastica, M.I.A. went on tour as their photographer. While on tour, Frischmann encouraged M.I.A. to play with the Roland MC-505, which is what she used to make her first single, “Galang.”
9. She Was Nominated for an Alternative Turner Prize in 2001
In 2001, M.I.A. was nominated for an Alternative Turner Prize, the prestigious annual award presented to a British visual artist under the age of 50, on the strength of her first exhibition at Euphoria. She is the only artist in history to be nominated for an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, a Brit Award, a Mercury Prize, and an Alternative Turner Prize.
10. She Had Her First Art Show at a Clothing Store on London’s Portobello Road
After graduating from the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, M.I.A hosted an art show at Euphoria, a clothing store where she worked at the time. All of her art sold out within minutes, and Jude Law famously bought a few pieces.
via @ Complex.com