Michelle Mello, puppet painter from Massachusetts, United States. Monsters & Co., 2001. Photo © Steven Wong Jr.

1.Tell us what you do and your beginnings.

By day I am a puppet painter working for Netflix on the stop-motion film “Wendell and Wild” (2021). My nights and weekends spent either transforming the animated pop-culture characters of my childhood into tangible stop-motion puppets, designing and crafting my original characters, or collaborating with fellow artists. Originally from Massachusetts, I got my start by relocating to Oregon to work with Laika on the film “Missing Link” (2019).

2.What are your favorite museums in the world? Why?

Let me first say, I love museums and have always been a big advocate for spending time in museums for the awe and inspiration they incite. When I was studying animation at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, we had unlimited access to the Museum of Fine Art Boston.

Lucky for me, the museum was within walking distance, and I made a point to visit at least once a week. That museum will always hold a special place in my heart. The museum I most aspire to attend is the Louvre. Mona Lisa calls to me!

3.How important are social networks in your business? And which platform do you prefer and why.

Rapunzel – Tangled, tower, Walt Disney, Michelle Mello, 2010. Photo © Steven Wong Jr.

Social networks are a blessing for artists, especially Instagram. It’s so useful to be able to share your work with an endless range of people. Gone are the days of the physical portfolio; Instagram is now the place to showcase your talents and make connections within your industry.

4.What are your future projects?

My future personal projects will be designing and crafting more original characters; you will have to follow along to see how that turns out. As for my professional career, I will be finishing up my time on “Wendell and Wild” at the end of the year. Once complete, I will be free to try something new, hopefully still under the Netflix umbrella.

5.To create greater engagement among museums, artists and professionals, do you have any advice for cultural projects such as #MuseumWeek?

Utilize social media as much as humanely possible. It’s great that #MusuemWeek is sourcing artists from around the globe to share what they are creating. It would be amazing to collaborate with museums locally to showcase work to the public in special exhibits.

Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist


Michelle Mello on social networks: Instagram – LinkedIn

Michelle Mello is a mixed media artist currently working in the stop-motion animation industry. Specializing in color design, sculpture and fiber art, she uses her skills in different mediums to build color, texture and depth, bringing her characters to life. Mello lives and works in Portland, Oregon.