In The Bag: Mikka Byarugaba

Words by Yu Mei
Photography by Sean Slattery

Mikka Byarugaba by Sean Slattery.

Mika Byarugaba is a multidisciplinary artist and model living in sunny Sydney. A longtime friend of Yu Mei, we first met the talented multidisciplinary artist and model a few years ago, when he was living in Wellington. He’s since continued to achieve huge success in his chosen creative fields, and we couldn’t be more proud to watch his career unfold.

We had the pleasure of catching up with Mikka for the latest edition of our In The Bag series. Read on to discover Mikka’s skincare secrets, his key to staying organised, and why he wants to ride his motorbike around a racetrack.


I properly got into making art through the first wave of Covid here in Sydney. The future was looking uncertain and I decided to launch my business as a creative marketer, using the connections I had in the fashion industry through modelling to help launch creative and idiosyncratic campaigns. I then realised I had my own personal ideas and work to share, so I started working on my own projects using different graphic mediums to convey the different ideas swirling through my mind.

The best lesson I’ve learnt career-wise is to always talk about your ideas and what you want to achieve to different people. I've found it may provide incredibly insightful perspectives and opinions, which may help guide you to a better path to achieve that goal. Similarly, inspiring people to create is what drives me. If I can do it, they can too. I knew that everyday hard work would get me somewhere but I didn’t particularly think it would get me to where I am in life right now. I’ve met so many people in Sydney along the way that have made my life journey so joyous, and I’m incredibly grateful for life to constantly be unfolding the way it is right now. It’s all a surprise! I’m very much a product of that saying, 'If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.'


Fashion, design and architecture play a huge role in my life—it’s the industry I’ve surrounded myself with. My style is very normcore. I’ve experimented a lot with what I wear, and it’s basically in sync with where I currently am in my life. I plan outfits based on the day and who I’m seeing. I wear a lot of tank tops these days because it's Sydney summer. Also a lot of linen, because it’s so comfortable. My Commas linen pants are the most worn item of clothing in my wardrobe—I wore them all of lockdown pretty much. Also, I love the two orange Kartell chairs opposite my bed, they’re lovely colours to wake up to.


For fun, I ride my motorbike. To unwind, I go for long walks in the regional parks around Sydney. I’d like to properly ride my bike on a racetrack so I can legally go fast. I became a bit of a hermit during lockdown, as you do, but now I’m slowly starting to catch up with friends, mostly one on one, which is very nice.

The BBC morning broadcast on the radio plays at 8am in my room. On a typical day, I wake up, do some morning exercises, dust and tidy up the sunroom where I predominantly do my work, which helps me have a clear mind. I note down what I want to accomplish for the day and sit down and do my tasks. I have the cascading windows wide open so I have that indoor/outdoor feel while I work.


I’m very organised. Everything of importance is noted down and every task is noted down, so I can hold myself accountable if the task isn’t completed. I only have what I’ll need for that particular outing in my bag, that’s how I stay organised. I usually carry my little Pentax camera, because you just never know when a special moment will happen in front of you, and I find that with my Pentax Q7, it just adds a lot more life to the scene rather than a photo taken on my iPhone. I also carry my keys and always a lip balm. Stick to the essentials.


I discovered Augustinus Bader skincare through Melanie Grant, who was kind enough to give me the full range of products. They're by far the best I’ve used, my skin loves it! I can't go a day without the Augustinus Bader face oil.

My music taste is very Catholic (widespread). Right now I’m listening to a lot of Kuduro music, which is this incredibly joyous music genre developed in Angola during their civil war. It's now one of the most recognised modern contributions to Portuguese culture. As you can probably tell, I love deep dives into music itself, this just being one of late. There are always such incredible stories. On that note, PEDRO, an artist from Portugal, makes great music straight from Lisbon.

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