Mel Cerri


Vinhedo, Brazil

Hi, I’m Mel, a Brazilian lettering artist and illustrator. I wanted to be an artist but my mom said no to art school because she “didn’t want me to be poor,” so I became an art director, instead. Unfortunately for her, I never went into advertising and started freelancing when I was still in college, focusing exclusively on illustration and lettering for the past 6 years. Luckily, I’ve been fortunate enough to work for great clients that appreciate my love of letterforms, hearts, flowers and all things cute.

“Drop the act and just be yourself.”

What did you get in trouble for as a kid? Anything adults told you to avoid that’s actually a big part of your life now?

I was the kind of kid that does dangerous things in complete silence. My mom might have caught me with one foot out of our 10th floor apartment window a few times. Now I cringe to think of it, but I was just the curious type. What would it look like if I cleaned my Barbie’s hair with alcohol (so it’s extra-clean) and light it on fire, you know, to dry?

Any person who really helped you in your awesome artistic journey?

One person who really influenced me was one of my mom’s best friends, Odilon Moraes, who is an amazing illustrator. When I was a child he gave me the best advice: don’t go to art school. You’ll learn to do things the “right” way and it will be impossible for you to break the rules and do things wrong after that. I think he really knew how much I wanted to do everything just right and how that might end up stifling my creativity. I’m very thankful to him for that advice, although I do question myself sometimes because I didn’t get any formal education in art.

What do you do when you need a break?

I’ll most likely go and organize a cabinet or drawer. There’s something very calming about creating order for me.

Any activities, exercises or strategies to pull yourself out of the occasional artistic rut?

Every time I feel like I’m lost in my work I try to remind myself of the importance of just showing up. Our culture is so focused on fast turnarounds and ever-present new and exciting content that as an artist it’s easy to feel the pressure to create your next masterpiece every single time you sit down with a piece of paper or iPad — and fast! But you have to silence that voice if you plan on staying sane. It’s OK to just show up and doodle random stuff today. For today you can just be you, and maybe tomorrow some great idea will show up, and as long as it finds you working, you can grab it and make it yours.

Did you have a magic moment when you knew you wanted art to be your life?

Ever since I can remember I’ve been drawing. Even if this wasn’t my career, I would never have stopped making art, it’s like you have this unexplainable need to put things on paper and you’ll die a little if you don’t. It’s a compulsion.