“ When I was 5, I used to say, I’m going to go to the Royal College of Art in Kensington Gore” said Mel Simone Elliot. And so she did. Of course she did. A fire cracker from Yorkshire with a sense of determination and indestructibility that only comes from eating pies and putting gravy on chips, or any other worn out stereotype you’d like to drag in to replace it: a flat cap or my namesake, Nora.

It wasn’t a path that was laid out for her, there wasn’t a little dog and some red shoes to click together. Mel started off in education, working in advocacy and trying to help young people carve an easy path through education and life. In 2002 she was made redundant, a single mother of two boys and having a crappy time. This was the catalyst for her to change her life and follow the dreams she had had as a child. Always passionate about drawing she did an Art degree and then applied for the RCA to do a Masters. And got in.

“ I was determined to make things better, from that day, nothing could stop me”

She sold her house and used the money to pay her rent in London, for two years. A risky and courageous step and then in recognition of her industrious, committed ways, a tutor awarded her a bursary.

At the Royal College she immersed herself in her practice, met her partner Andy and worked and juggled and worked and juggled.

“How to make Art” was one of her first publications. A compendium of advice, ideas and paths into making work;

“It’s supposed to be a little like an Art Foundation in a book, where to find inspiration and the kind of practice that’s good for you”

Then in 2008 the first of her I love Mel colouring books,”Colour Me Good featuring Kate Moss. Since then, we’ve seen “Colour Me Good…….Harry Stiles, Swiftly (Taylor Swift),Benedict Cumberbatch, HipHop, Record Sleeves and more. All tongue-in-cheek, all expertly illustrated with line drawings by Mel.

The latest in the “Colour me..” series being “Colour me bad”. A book of all the crappy things that have happened in 2016, lots of dead celebrities, Pokemon Go, the Brexit bus, and the list goes on, as we all, unfortunately, know.
Now Mel’s books appear in most well-known book stores and gallery shops, including the Tate Modern and in her on-line shops. They have also opened an online shop in America, based in Austen, Texas, where they have a shop and a warehouse.

On the back of her success, Mel opened I love Mel on St.Leonards sea front. A sunny kaleidoscope of funny, arty paraphernalia, books, cards and even socks. There’s a small cafe selling coffee directly from Turin, Pie and Mash, avocado on toast and a range of smoothies and juices, including one called “Morning Glory”. Haha.

If you know a young person, who has an interest in getting in to any kind of Art practice, then “How to Make Art” is a perfect introduction to how to make that possible. Written by someone who made it possible, and then some.

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