MIA'S UNWONDERFUL WORLD

—photo by Jiayue Yu | makeup by Mollie Akhavan | Illustration by Mia Lee

—photo by Jiayue Yu | makeup by Mollie Akhavan | Illustration by Mia Lee

—story by Chrissy Mastro @mastrochrissy

It’s been almost a year since Mia Lee (aka @hotfunmia) clicked her heels and landed in New
York, the faraway land where dreams come true. She lives the life we all wished for growing up:
she doesn’t have to get up and go to work early in the morning, she gets hired by some of the
most popular brands in the world to draw and create all day, and this just in — she’s creating her
own cartoon series.


Since she moved to New York from Chicago last October on a whim — she told "like, five
people" — she’s nailed a number of unbelievable gigs with some of your favorite brands (Nike, Timberland,
Puma, Mercedes Benz, MILK Studios, and West Elm, just to name a few.)

“When I came out here, shit just turned upside down,” she said. “I have no idea how I got put on these projects. My
agency would find out that I knew certain skills and they would be like ‘Oh, let’s put you on this.’”


By the one month mark, Mia had landed her first big NY gig: assisting with the production of
installations for a little store called Kith. "Being in New York and seeing how people engage with
Kith is crazy,” she said. “People will die for Kith out here. It’s wild.”

—photo by Jiayue Yu | makeup by Mollie Akhavan | Illustration by Mia Lee

—photo by Jiayue Yu | makeup by Mollie Akhavan | Illustration by Mia Lee

—photo by Jiayue Yu | makeup by Mollie Akhavan | Illustration by Mia Lee

—photo by Jiayue Yu | makeup by Mollie Akhavan | Illustration by Mia Lee


Born and raised in Chicago, it was only a matter of time before Mia paid homage to her own city
with ‘The Magical World of East Room’ coloring book. “People were going crazy for this book,”
she said. “I feel like I’ve done colder shit, but everyone has an East Room story. People could
relate.” Though the original copy wasn’t for sale — it was actually a birthday gift for a close
friend — about a week later, she had already put up a brand new version for sale: ‘Summertime
Fye: A Coloring and Activity Book about a Decent Summer in Chicago.’


The buzz over her crazy-night-at-East-Room-turned-coloring-book inspired Mia to move forward
with her latest project: the highly anticipated cartoon, Unwonderful World. In her own words, “East
Room is like the baby daddy of my cartoon.”

—photo by Jiayue Yu | makeup by Mollie Akhavan | Illustration by Mia Lee

—photo by Jiayue Yu | makeup by Mollie Akhavan | Illustration by Mia Lee


Unwonderful World, set to debut later this fall, will be a compilation of several 3-5 minute
episodes. While the bright colors and cuddly teddy bears may initially evoke a sense of comfort
and nostalgia, don’t expect peaches and cream, bubble gum pop. Mia’s designs always seem to
have a dark, almost sinister element underneath the surface, and this one is no exception. With
an angry alcoholic butterfly, a very phallically designed Mayor, a broken heart divided in two,
and colorful striped mushrooms as just a few of the characters in this whimsically unwonderful
world, one thing’s for sure: this cartoon is probably not for kids.


Like the East Room coloring book, Mia’s cartoon series is based on true stories mixed with
made up elements to give it that cartoon flair. “Unwonderful World is my world,” she said. “I’m
not a writer at all, but I can tell a story. That’s why I think this cartoon is gonna be great — it’s
gonna be just me, narrating this shit. It’s not gonna be a beautifully poetic thought-out thing, it’s
gonna be just how I talk normally, and how I usually tell people these wild stories.”


Another underlying purpose of the cartoon is to put other artists’ work out there. “I mainly have
this thing with putting people of color’s music in my intros or outros,” she said. “Then I give full
credit so that they get that recognition. If I get put on, so will they.” Judging by the teasers
scored by Lovey (who is scoring the full episodes as well), we can look forward to discovering new
music just as much as the cartoon itself. 

—photo by Jiayue Yu | makeup by Mollie Akhavan | Illustration by Mia Lee

—photo by Jiayue Yu | makeup by Mollie Akhavan | Illustration by Mia Lee

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Circus Magazine

CIRCUS aims to educate and enlighten the masses of the Generation-Y mindset and perspective–representing today’s young, beautiful and inspirational–our smart and sensational. CIRCUS will give voices to the underrepresented and will start the necessary movement of showcasing the opinions and ideas of our growing (but in the eyes of the current media) invisible intelligentsia. We’re all the stars of our personal CIRCUS–our lives–and we’re merely here to ensure no one misses the greatest shows the world has to offer.