Esperança Melo - Illustrator

Esperança Melo was born in the Azores, and has made her home in the village of Millbrook, Ontario. She is a graduate of Sheridan College's Animation Program, as well as a Graphic Design honors graduate from George Brown College.

Esperança works in various art forms and media, including sculpting in papier-mâché. She has illustrated several children's books, including Love You More by author Susan Musgrave, and co-illustrated with Bill Slavin the picture book Drumheller Dinosaur Dance by author Robert Heidbreder, which was the recipient of the 2005 Blue Spruce Award in Ontario and the 2006 Chocolate Lily Award in British Columbia.

Birthplace?
The Azores --- Portuguese islands in the mid-Atlantic.

Birthday?
December 18.

Where do you live now?
In the village of Millbrook, Ontario.

When did you start drawing?
As a child.

What materials do you use to create your illustrations?
Most of my illustrations for children's books are rendered in acrylic paint applied to gessoed paper. I enjoy working in this medium because I love bright colors and textures.

Do you have any tips for young creators?
Keep drawing and painting! Don't be too self-conscious about your art.

What is your favorite hobby?
Gardening, painting and experimenting with collage work.

What is your favorite food?
Pasta.

What was your training or schooling?
I studied graphic design for three years and worked as a designer for several years afterward. Later I returned to school and graduated from the Animation Program at Sheridan College. I also took classes in sculpture, oil painting, life drawing and pottery.

How did you get involved with children's books?
I became involved in children's books by designing many of the books that were illustrated by my partner, Bill Slavin. Then Bill and I began to collaborate on book illustration, which we still do on occasion when we are not illustrating books solo.

What is your favorite book?
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels.

What is your favorite movie?
The Draughtsman's Contract by Peter Greenaway.

What is the thing you like the most about creating kids' books?
It's fun work!

Where do you work?
At home, in a large, sunny studio.

How do you research or create your illustrations?
When I am illustrating from my imagination, I do various sketches of my characters in different poses and from many points of view, until I feel that they capture the energy and essence of the story. For more realistic illustrations I use references from books and web images.

Where do you get your ideas?
From my imagination and from the world around me.

What's your greatest childhood memory?
The many summer vacations spent in Sete Cidades, a small village located on two crater lakes at the foot of volcanic mountains.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A nun, because I loved dressing up in the flowing habits.

What is the weirdest or most interesting job you've ever had?
A job commission that enabled me to fill a house with several papier-mâché birds, fish and various celestial objects.

Drumheller Dinosaur Dance

2006 - Chocolate Lily Book Award, Short-listed
2005 - Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award, Short-listed
2005 - Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, Short-listed
2005 - Shinning Willow Award, Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice, Short-listed
2005 - Blue Spruce Award, Ontario Library Association, Winner
2005 - Great Book Award, Canada Toy Testing Council, Winner
2005 - Childrens' Choices, International Reading Association, Short-listed

Knitting

2003 - Our Choice, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner
2002 - Parent's Guide to Children's Media Award, Commended

Non-fiction

Our Flag, 2014
Knitting, 2002

Picture Books