My almost book

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I’ve known the answer to this question since I was six years old, when the huge success of the movie The Lion King made the space in the media for documentaries and articles showing how to do animation. Of course, the 1994’s Mariana didn’t have any notion of how an animation studio works. But she knew that she wanted to draw characters and create stories.

Always focused on that dream, in 2006 I entered an university course that included a specialisation in animation. Unlucky me, that was the year that the course was redone and the specialisation eliminated… At this point I couldn’t change course and was stuck with it. I tried to choose as many drawing and animation classes as I could and make the best of it.

By the end of three years I learned, like so many other students, that I didn’t know what I wanted after all. We’re forced to make a professional choice at 18, without any knowledge of the market, counselled by professionals who don’t know much better. What did my art teachers from high school knew about art profession? Nearly nothing. They presented me with four options: teacher; designer; architect and painter. I didn’t want to be neither. So when I learned about animated movies made in Portugal, that seemed like the perfect choice for me.

Three years of acquaintanceship with professionals of that area, immersion in animated movie festivals, and my friendship with a colleague with a better animation background than mine, made me realize that animation might not be the answer.

There are a few animation studios in Portugal, but they struggle to survive. There is some funding for author’s cinema, but you can’t rely on that… Being an artist is always a matter of love. But by this time I was learning that my passion, though tangled with animation, didn’t have to limit to it.

After all, the possibilites were almost endless. Art is everywhere. An artist can have a thousand professions. And there was one right under my nose (literally) for all of this years and I didn’t notice it because I was so focused on something else. Book illustration. 

I love book ever since I was a little kid. My favourite way of playing would be to pick up illustrated books whose stories I could already tell by heart, open them and contemplate the pages, imagining new stories happening in the scenery. I wrote and illustrated a lot of stories and comic books as a kid, all obviously very silly. But doing that as an adult never crossed my mind before.

And so, few months before graduation, I decided that I wanted to do something else. With infinite patience, my teacher accepted my proposal to deliver an illustrated children’s book for my final project, instead of the short animation that I had planned to do.

Thus was born the book “Nana doesn’t want to go to sleep”, with a single copy printed, which was kept on the school’s library by request of the teacher. I was my first experience writing and illustrating a children’s story and it served it’s purpose.

The writing isn’t very good, the illustrations lack technique… but there is something about the story that makes me want to tell it again, someday. Who knows… I might do that!