UPPERCASE is pleased to introduce a new Creative-in-Residence program for illustrators, artists, photographers, writers, crafters, makers and doers! The month-long residency allows the participant to use the UPPERCASE studio space and equipment in order to produce a specific professional or personal work. In return, the participant will share their talents by creating something particular for UPPERCASE, such as an illustration, photographs, an article or an object.
Illustration has always been a part of Melanie’s life. As a child growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Melanie seemed to be born with the skills of an illustrator. “Illustration was always there. My parents always bought me sketchbooks. As soon as I was done with one, they would have a new one for me right away. They were really happy that I was so into drawing,” says Melanie.
Throughout high school, Melanie’s love for art continued, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to pursue it right after graduating. “I was kind of done with school for a little bit, so I took a year off and worked retail…it was horrible. Partway through that year all I thought was, 'Okay, I’m going back to school for sure!’" Melanie had a friend that was enrolled in the animation program Sheridan College in Ontario, and after hearing about how exciting things were at Sheridan, Melanie decided to register into the illustration program and work towards a Bachelor of Applied Arts.
Over the years, Melanie developed her own unique style of illustration using ink, acrylic paint, and sometimes charcoal. Her narrative and emotive illustrations usually take the viewer on a journey. “I definitely enjoy telling stories, and that’s always been the case…even when I was little I’d always draw these really elaborate stories and they didn’t really make much sense, but they were very dramatic with lots of action and stuff, so I guess that’s kind of stuck with me.”
An owner of two little dogs named Douglas and Veronica, Melanie loves to illustrate her furry family members. “My dogs are always up to something. I have lots of ideas for little comics or little images of them getting into trouble.” You can see illustrations of Melanie’s pooches on her website.
After Melanie finished her degree at Sheridan, she and her partner moved to Calgary in September 2013. “When I moved to Calgary, I knew I wanted to be a part of UPPERCASE,” says Melanie. “I just knew that I wanted to get involved more with the arts scene here in Calgary, and I figured working with Janine would be a good way to jump-start that and hopefully get my freelance going a little bit more.”
During Melanie’s time here at UPPERCASE, she’s working on an illustrated booklet about teen issues. Using colours to emphasize emotion and action, Melanie hopes that readers will relate to her drawings and be reminded of their teenage years through her use of colour. “I had a really nerdy, kind of sheltered, safe little teenage-hood, but I’m kind of going off of experiences from other people and things I witnessed first-hand. I’m trying to keep it easy to get into, but not too heavy,” says Melanie.
After her residency at UPPERCASE, Melanie hopes to illustrate full time. “That’s the dream, to do it for a living, and to just really enjoy it."
We’re looking forward to seeing Melanie’s work throughout the month and we’re even more excited to see her work in the summer issue of UPPERCASE.