Can you remember your dreams? What do you think happens in your imagination as you sleep? Bia Melo has created a book inspired by dreams. We recently sent Bia some questions to answer around The Dream Book!
Where did the inspiration for The Dream Book come from?
The inspirations for this book, came, of course, from dreams! I started working on this project while still studying at the MA in Children’s Book illustration at Cambridge School of Arts. At that time, we were encouraged to research into topics that were interested to us, and I’ve come to realize that I’ve been always very connected with dreams as I quite often remember my own dream adventures, so it was a very organic process to dive into this universe for my first story.
The illustrations, with their child like form will really appeal to young readers- was this a harder concept to draw?
The child perspective of the world, including the way to draw it, is something that I’m particular interested in. I’ve been trying in my own art practice to loosen up the rules and draw as freely as possible, in fact as a kid would. As an adult, especially if you had any formal art training, it is a hard thing to do to get rid of the guidelines we’ve created and learned over time.
On this project’s particular technique, I’ve used crayons and pencils that are a very common kids art supply, but to achieve the level of detail and to be able to overlay layers of colour needed for a fine art, I’ve had to melt the wax, by using it with a solvent, which is much more complicated than a child’s artwork, but hopefully we could achieve something the kids will connect and be inspired to draw from.
Children and adults will relate to this story so well. Is there anything else you hope readers will take away from reading this?
I hope readers from any age can be inspired by Nina’s curious and inquisitive personality, to face the world, the good or bad things, awake or asleep, with this naivety and adventurous spirit. And of course, I hope everyone will enjoy a big night of sleep welcoming the most marvelous, crazy dreams, and hopefully capture them in the morning as Nina does.
Have you ever tried Dream Journaling? Or looking up the hidden meanings in dreams?
Yes, absolutely! I’ve been keeping a Dream and Draw journal for almost ten years now. My technique is similar to Nina’s. I draw, straight after waking up. And I’d try not to build my own narrative into the memory of the dream, or think of meanings behind them. My aim is to draw a representative element and write a sentence, very minimal, but yet, very efficient to capture the dream on the page.
We love the tips for parents in the back of the book, highlighting some important information. Is there anything else you would want to share with families or children about dreams and nightmares?
I think is important to say that not everyone remembers their dreams, and that is okay too. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have these amazing adventures, it is just that they go away too quickly for you to remember. My tip is for you to start understanding what would be your optimum setup to help you remembering the dreams, for each person is different. For me, apart from having enough sleep hours, it helps if I wake up naturally, without interference. In that sense the days I wake up with the alarm, doesn’t help me to remember my dreams, so weekends were my usual dreaming days. Now I’ve switched for a light alarm and I’m experimenting to see if without the noise, it will become more frequently to remember the dreams.
What is your favourite medium for illustration?
I love art materials, and I’m a big fan of playing and experimenting with different tools and mixed media. But I love the textures and the energy captured on the marks of crayons and pencils, like on the book.
What is your process like when writing and illustrating- are you quite strict with your time or more flexible? Are you messy or neat? Morning or afternoon?
I am a late owl, but for writing and sketching I think the mornings bring some freshness and my mind is not full with all the day activities yet, so I can concentrate more. I’m always stretching in between the messiness and tidiness on my work. I have a background in graphic design, were rein order and organization. But in art you have to free yourself and open space for exploration and ultimately welcome mess, mistakes and all the unplanned! So, I spend my days trying to find the sweet spot of balance between these two universes.
The Dream Book by Bia Melo is published by Bonnier Books.