We had the good fortune of connecting with Mihana Johnston and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mihana, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
This is such a great question because it’s something I now think about every single day! When I worked at my corporate 9-5 job, this question never really came up (until the very end when I decided that I wanted to quit). Owning my own business as an artist has come with more emotional ups and downs than I initially thought it would. Thoughts and feelings about being good enough, on social media enough, responsive enough, creative enough, to give up or not give up, come up every single day. Some days I feel really motivated, inspired, and driven. Other days I feel like giving up and don’t want to touch another bead ever again! Luckily, I share a studio with my best friend Madeline (@nonporousceramics) and we’re able to help each other and talk things through and motivate each other to keep on going. Having community in this space is really motivating and remembering my agency and that I always have choices is crucial. Thinking about why I even started Bizu in the first place helps me to keep going, and knowing that I am so young and have so much more to learn helps a lot, too!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am really proud of the risks I’ve taken with Bizu. When I first started, I made really simple and basic mask chains and followed patterns I found online or in books. Now, I usually make up the colors and designs as I go, I think because of how comfortable I have become in leaning into making unconventional forms of jewelry and understanding that it might feel risky to try on or purchase one of my pieces. It’s been really fun to combine childlike fantasy with the weird colors and shapes we often see in nature. I love seeing bright colors and fun shapes being taken “seriously”, and hope to continue to do that through my work. My hope is that my pieces help people embrace their complexities as humans and help them express themselves as reflections of the complex ecosystems around us!
Trusting the process, taking risks, and failing are all things that do not come very naturally or easily to me (or anybody, probably)! The creation of Bizu and being a full-time artist has shown me that these things are inevitable. It’s never easy, but a part of me at least knows now that these things always worth it and means I’m growing. It’s cheesy but one of the biggest lessons I’m learning through Bizu is to feel my feelings. Like, really feel ALL of my feelings because the act of creating anything opens up a channel for all of these feelings to come through. I’m learning a lot about my internal self-talk and core beliefs and am growing a new beautiful relationship with myself and my inner younger self!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is so funny because I literally just finished completing a spreadsheet itinerary for one of my best friends! (I can’t live without spreadsheets). My recommendations for visiting anywhere always surround nature. To me, it’s always worth it to go on a hike or a drive or a swim somewhere and really immerse yourself in the natural ecosystems of where ever you’re visiting! After every outdoor excursion you need to eat really good food, then take a nap, then eat more really good food and drink cute drinks (mostly boba).
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The first two people that stood out to me are my partner Noah (@pleasedontlookmeup) and my best friend and studio mate Madeline (@nonporousceramics). Both of them are also full-time artists andare so talented in what they do. They inspire me every single day through our conversations, their playfulness and creativity, and their dedication to their craft. Their love, support and mentorshipplay crucial parts in why I was able to quit my job, get a studio, start beadwork, create my own business, believe I’m good enough, and show up to the studio every single day.
Photo of Sydney Calrson (green dress) credited to her instagram @sydneylcarlson, all other photos are mine