I was born in Brussels in 1958, of a Belgian mother and a Portuguese father. During my childhood, visits to my grandmother’s house at the edge of the wood alternated with sunny holidays in Portugal.
Like all children, I used to draw. I simply never stopped.
Drawing has always helped me to live. I was fascinated very early on by all that one can express with a little drawing.
We did not have a television at home.
I remember Tintin’s books and Charlie Chaplin’s films.
I accomplished my higher education in graphic communication.
I awoke to the world of graphics and of the image, which invades our society. I discovered the fabulous drawings of Saul Steinberg (the father of all illustrators) and Tomi Ungerer.
You always follow in somebody’s footsteps.
In 1983 I started to earn my living as an illustrator. I had to hold on for a while, but pretty soon I managed to get some good ideas across. The rest followed.
Two books of mine were published by a little publisher who went bankrupt. This put a damper on my wish to be published.
I made several posters, drawings for the press, covers, drawings for advertisements, everything that came my way. I was curious.
Everything interested me.
Towards ’91, with the crisis, clients became cautious. Anyhow,
I was beginning to get bored with advertising (which I’ve given up for good), it was no fun at all: the best ideas remained unused.
I returned to books.
I went to “Pastel”, the Belgian office of the publisher of my dreams: “l’école des loisirs”. They believed in me and this allowed me to develop my personal world.
I started by illustrating some texts, but what I really wanted was to tell my own stories.
In 1995 my first book (text and drawings) was published:
“The World Upside Down”.
Since then, I haven’t stopped, and children’s books have become my main activity.
A good book is first and foremost a good story.
The text and the drawings are closely linked, they both tell the story. Without forgetting humour (the courtesy of desperation).
I seek simplicity (which often demands a lot of work).
Picture books for children also speak to adults, hence the importance of different reading levels. Anyhow, children always understand much more than you think they do.
You have to be very humble where creation is concerned. You catch ideas which are already there, all around you.
They simply go through you to land on the sheet of white paper.
Our work is to make them visible. It’s a way of communicating.
With a pencil and paper, everything is possible. It’s magic!
Mario left us to join the stars on 16th December 2012, but he keeps on living in our minds and our hearts.