2024 WIA World Summit Artist – Maria Melo

2024 WIA World Summit Artist – Maria Melo

Watch the video of our interview with 2024 WIA World Summit Artist Maria Melo below, or scroll down to read the full transcript.

Watch the full video here

Think back to the earliest moment in your life when you realized you loved creating art and please share it with us.

I think I’ve always been a very creative person since I can remember. I actually have this picture on my Instagram of me when I was 6 years old, on the day I lost my first tooth. I remember it was a very scary experience, and I cried a lot, but at the end of the day there I was, smiling at the camera with my first self-portrait drawing.

I believe creativity allows me that space to process emotions and express myself.

Did your family encourage you in your pursuit of art as a career? If so, how? If not, how did you move forward in your pursuit?

Honestly, it was hard in the beginning, I was always a very good student so my parents thought I would become a physician, and when I chose arts in high school there were still high expectations for me to at least study architecture in college. I actually did that for 2 years until I realized it wasn’t for me. That time was really difficult because not only I felt lost but I also had to deal with some disappointment from my parents, and I was very used to using my grades to please them.  But eventually, they accepted it, and because they love me, even though they don’t understand, they’ve been supporting me in my decisions ever since.

Apart from my parents, I have an older brother, who is my best friend. He has always been by my side and I think I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.

What, if any, adversities have you faced in your career or life in general, and how did they shape the artist you are today?

I like to separate adversities or challenges by external and internal, and I think it’s more productive to talk about the internal ones, because for example I can’t change the fact I was born in Portugal where there’s no animation industry, but I can learn to deal with my anxiety so I can keep working towards my goals in a sustainable way.

So yes, learning to manage my anxiety, my expectations and worries about the future, and navigating uncertainty, has been the biggest challenge for me, but it’s also where I’ve been finding a lot about myself.

How do you keep your artistic spirit refreshed, even when under the pressure of production deadlines or life challenges?

I believe self-care is very important to create this balance, whatever that means to you. For me, my yoga practice has been life changing, I’m actually a teacher and eternal student. I’m so grateful it appeared in my life because it allows me to pause, slow down, connect deeply with myself and others, and balance my being with my doing on a daily basis. Sometimes I even get some creative insights during practice, I think it’s because it creates space in my body and mind.

Why is an organization like WIA important?

I’ve been following WIA on instagram pretty much since I started posting art. It’s so important to feel represented, not only as a woman in the industry but also being from a country where there’s not many career opportunities, and knowing you are not alone and you don’t have to figure it all out by yourself makes such a difference. There’s a lot of resources WIA provides either for free or with an adjustable price taking in consideration where you live.

So yes I think that’s amazing, thank you for doing this.

How did this assignment for WIA at the World Summit in Annecy come to you, and how has it evolved?

I know that the WIA team found my portfolio through THU (Trojan Horse Was a Unicorn), and honestly it wouldn’t make sense to talk about my artistic path without talking about this incredible community. I went to their main event for the first time in 2019 and ever since it just keeps on giving, not only opportunities like this one but it also allowed me to learn so much, to talk in person with some of my favorite artists, meet new ones, I made friends there that make me feel safe and seen regardless of where I am in my journey, this event and community gave me tools to grow both as an artist and as a person.  So that’s how this project came to me, after that I started developing the concept for the artwork, that’s my favorite part of the process.

I am so thankful for all the support and meetings with the inspiring women leading this organization, and I can’t wait to meet them in person in Annecy. I’m also very excited about the summit and the conversations that will arise from that.

What message do you hope to convey through this art?

Sometimes it can feel like you are lost in the deep ocean, not knowing where you’re going or what’s your next step, but if you trust, and you find the right community, everything will just start flowing and you’ll find your way. It’s a reminder that we are part of something bigger.

What advice do you have for young people looking at animation or other artistic industries as their career field?

Something I’ve been learning is actually to ask less for advice, I mean I still love to hear people’s stories, but we are constantly surrounded by information and other people’s opinions, while there’s not really a recipe to success because everything is always changing and there are factors we can’t control.  I feel we should check more with ourselves and our truth, follow our interests, do a lot of what we love, what excites us, that’s our internal compass, the rest only time will tell.


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