In the Studio with Eugenia Mello

By Peggy Roalf   Friday July 1, 2022

Peggy Roalf: Which came first, the brush, the pen or the tablet? 

Eugenia Mello: The pencil, the marker, the pencil again; then the tablet, the chalk pastels, the iPad, the Cintiq. 

PR: Where do you live and how does that place contribute to your creative work? 
EM:  I live in Brooklyn, NY now. It has everything to do with my work because this city is pure inspiration. It feels as if the volume is always turned to max for all the sounds all the time. I try to open my eyes as wide as possible to take it all in, but of course, inevitably, there’s so much you just can’t grasp. Still, I think what’s beautiful is that, because we have to choose what we can ‘carry’, whatever we do manage to catch is what makes our work distinctively our own. 

PR: Please describe your work space and how it contributes to the artist’s basic condition of working alone. 
EM: I work in a studio as of recently after always having worked at home. The space is ample and quiet and it has truly felt like a treasure to find a place to come to, walk to, think on my way to. The separation from walking from my bed to the kitchen to the studio chair, to having a thirty-minute walk in the middle was as much a beautiful acquisition as the actual space itself. Additionally, having a larger space was in part also an attempt to make space for meeting other illustrators and share around the profession, which is wonderful.

PR:What is the most indispensable item in your studio? 

EM: Sadly perhaps, electricity. And natural light. Silence or music, depending on the moment. 

PR: Do you keep a sketchbook? Digital or analog? If yes, how does that contribute to your work process?
EM: I keep a digital sketchbook for ideas, a folder with all sketches I’ve ever made, to try to keep the conversation with my previous selves going, and a planner, religiously updated, to keep up with my everyday tasks and give them a place to pile up and visually take space. 

PR: What kind of breaks do you take to clear your head when working to a deadline?

EM: Depends on the level of head-clearing needed. Mostly I go for coffee. But sometimes, in the rare deep crisis moments, I need to shut off completely and sleep. I try not to get there, so taking short breaks or shifting between different tasks helps. Trying to make new associations, to see things differently.

PR: What are some of your creative inspirations—artists, music, literature, culture in general—that you draw from in your work?
EM: Watching people move is really inspiring to me. Contemporary dance is a big inspiration. I go to many dance performances here in New York and it’s always so stimulating to see how music, synched with color and bodies moving in space can communicate such range of emotions. It’s also exciting to see what the different companies do, what their style is, what their experiments are. How they use light, shadow, fabric in motion—it’s all such fueling inspiration for drawing. 

PR: Do you see a lot of museum and gallery shows?
What’s the best takeaway from seeing art shows rather than looking at online media, books, magazines

EM: I do, I like the experience of a curated show for the spatial storytelling journey. The moving, wandering through a show, is so preciously exciting. Discovering, stepping back to marvel. I like the physical experience of seeing work in its original dimensions, with its original texture, and reflecting on how that feels.

PR: How do you know when the art is finished—or when to stop working on it?
EM: Depends on what the art is for, is my first thought about this. If it’s for a client, I try to establish a goal for said drawing, a clear line, a clear ‘color rough’, and at some point, the final is the result of those steps. It’s pretty straightforward. 

Slowly, that way of working has spread to all my practice; a sort of combination of formal ‘process’ training, almost rational and then because that’s there, the opportunity opens to make space for a freedom to listen to my Intuition. What is that intuition? A voice inside that doesn’t doubt, which doesn’t stutter like all the other voices, it’s calm, kind and assertive. Once you calm the cacophony of mental voices, intuition’s timbre becomes clearer. That’s my north star on how I wish to work.. 

PR: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be, and why?

EM: I feel like I am where the answer for that question is. But my irrational wish would be to be able to tele-transport to where everyone I love is, for a moment, to go for a chat, a drink, a hug, and come back. That would be ideal, honestly. 

PR: What would be your dream job—the one thing you have always hoped for in an assignment?
EM:  I would love to dream up a big show at an open space, to have my work interact with its surroundings. Illustration in space, coexisting with people,.

Eugenia Mello is a Latin-American, Brooklyn-based illustrator and graphic designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She studied Graphic Design at the University of Buenos Aires, where she also taught Design and Typography courses for several years. She holds an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts

Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, The Art Director’s Club of New York, Latin American Illustration, The Society of Illustrators of LA, Creative Quarterly and 3x3 Magazine. In 2017, she was awarded a Gold medal from the Society of Illustrators for her illustrated moving piece Hope for the Day and 2019 she received a Silver medal for Why Are We Still Dismissing Girl’s Pain? an OP-ED illustration for the New York Times. In 2020, her recently published first picture book ‘Moving’ was awarded a Silver Cube by the Art Directors Club of New York. She has two books in production for Spring 2023: The River of Dust (Chronicle Books) written by Jilanne Hoffman;  Swimming, Enchanted Lion Books, written by MK Despres.
Social media: @eumiel DARTinterview