Vogue Education Presents: Mia Sakai – Image-Maker, Creative Director, and Founder of Aether Magazine 

Vogue Education Presents was delighted to welcome image maker, creative director, and founder of Aether Magazine, Mia Sakai. Sophia Rasab reports…

About Mia Sakai 


In 2015, Mia launched her own independent publication, Aether Magazine during her foundation year at Camberwell College of Arts. Inspired by her peers, she was driven to create a platform for young creatives to showcase their work in print. Following this, Aether was given a commendation by the Stack Magazine Awards in 2018 and since then, has gone on to create 16 print issues. Mia currently independently curates, designs and directs the production of Aether.


In February 2022, Mia partnered up on behalf of Aether with Logitech for their POP event to celebrate the launch of their new POP mouse and keyboards, which was hosted in Espacio Gallery in East London.. She displayed some of her favourite works from the magazine as a way to celebrate the 7th anniversary of the publication. Alongside this, Aether also had a pop-up shop where visitors could purchase copies and merchandise.


On the 17th of March 2022, Aether exhibited as part of the International Women’s Month at the Creative Debuts x Adidas event. 


Aether also hosts frequent pop-up events which showcase the works of young, independent designers, artists, DJs, and performers. It also serves as an opportunity for young creatives to connect and often features a fashion show. 


In addition to her work with Aether, Mia has hosted a series of online seminars for fellow young creatives, sharing her experiences with her peers. Topics included how to start your own magazine, creating without funding and how to plan and execute editorial shoots. She is also a freelance photographer, creative director and content creator. One of her most recent social media collaborations was with D&AD for the New Blood Awards, a competition giving young creatives an opportunity to break into the industry.



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About Aether Magazine

Aether Magazine stands out as a beacon for creatives from marginalised backgrounds, offering a platform for people of colour, working-class individuals, and neurodivergent artists. The magazine embraces diversity by featuring a range of practices including illustration, design, and styling. The ethos of Aether is about inclusivity and providing opportunities for those whose work might be overlooked by mainstream platforms.

Aether accepts submissions from artists eager to showcase their work, ensuring each issue is a rich tapestry of diverse talents. The magazine’s commitment to print with an annual physical copy, underscores Mia’s passion for preserving this traditional medium. Despite being independently funded, Aether has made a significant impact, once even being stocked at the prestigious Tate Modern.

The idea for Aether was born out of frustration. While studying art at Camberwell, Mia and her peers found their high-quality work consistently rejected by other platforms. This prompted her to create Aether, initially a thin zine, which has now evolved into a substantial publication of 200 pages, published annually or biannually.

Mia’s journey to founding Aether began with a simple Google search on how to create a magazine. Nearly a decade later, Aether reflects her relentless dedication and creative evolution. Funded independently, Mia spends minimally, borrowing clothes from graduates, designers, and PR companies. Her network of young artists contributes to the magazine’s graphic design, styling, hair, makeup, and other editorial needs.

Mia not only features her editorial work, but also highlights artists she admires, often discovering them on social media or through direct outreach. This evolving aesthetic owes much to Mia’s creative experimentation, drawing inspiration from icons like Tim Walker, Mika Ninagawa, and Dave Chapelle.

Aether isn’t just about showcasing art; it’s about storytelling. Mia uses the magazine to explore new narrative modes, capturing the zeitgeist of young lives. Through pop-up events and inclusive fashion shows, Mia democratises fashion, providing access to experiences often reserved for the elite.

Practical Advice for Aspiring Creatives

For those looking to shoot editorial stories on a budget, Mia offers invaluable tips:

  • Clear Communication: Ensure collaborators understand the project is unpaid but beneficial for their portfolios.
  • Formal Proposals: Approach potential collaborators with a solid plan, including mood boards and team details.
  • Networking: Attend events to meet future collaborators in person.
  • Borrowing Clothes: Use official commission letters to borrow clothes from PR agencies and showrooms.
  • Diverse Teams: Collaborate with people whose skills complement yours.
  • Affordable Props: Source materials from markets, charity shops, and online platforms like eBay and Vinted.
  • Location Scouting: Utilise public spaces like parks or colourful neighbourhoods for shoots, or negotiate with smaller venues.

Casting and Budgeting

When casting models, Mia suggests:

  • New Faces from Agencies: Approach modelling agencies for new talent available for test shoots.
  • Alternative Casting: Consider models from open calls or social media to keep costs low.

Advice for our Students

Mia offers specific advice for students at Condé Nast College:

  • Digital Mood Boards: Create digital mood boards with a clear narrative.
  • Defining Your Vision: Choose 7-10 words that represent your creative identity.
  • Unique Submissions: Ensure your work is original, specific, and detailed with a strong backstory.

Leveraging Creative Platforms

For young creatives, Mia recommends:

  • The Dots: A platform for networking, events, and job opportunities.
  • Hypha Studios: Helps find free spaces for events and exhibitions.
  • Creative Lives in Progress, Eric, ClickerMe: Additional resources for networking and opportunities.
  • Arts Grants: Apply for local council arts grants to support your projects.

Find out more about our Online course in Creative Direction, or Masters in Fashion Journalism & Editorial Direction.