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Charlotte Edey

Work / Illustration

Illustrator Charlotte Edey builds soft yet bold dream-like worlds across mediums

“A lot of my interest in drawing came from reading,” illustrator Charlotte Edey tells It’s Nice That. “I was always reading and it was usually fantasy, which definitely explains the interest in world-building! I would usually draw things I couldn’t or hadn’t seen. As I grew older, I realised I drew when I felt unable to articulate myself and to pacify myself. I always found drawing to be instinctive, and it’s hugely important to me as a means of communicating.”

Charlotte builds dreamscape worlds, soft yet bold, sensitive and soulful. “I think my style has grown with my confidence in my own identity and gradually become softer as a result,” she puts forward. “When I first started drawing seriously, I mostly created intensely detailed monochrome ink drawings," the illustrator continues. "As I started to work more in pencil and watercolour while developing a colour palette, I found that I work best with a ground colour of blue or pink that I’d then punctuate with burnt orange or white and build from there.”

A lot of Charlotte’s illustration work is ultimately an exploration of the idea of space. “There’s a quiet radicalism in creating and taking up space; in isolation, in a place to reflect, preserve and grow. There is an optimism too in building a space: the very act of it looks forward and creates possibility." Charlotte also harnesses her own power “in representation and visibilit of women,” she explains, "particularly women of colour, occupying space. Visually, I think that defines the universe that most of my pieces inhabit. Contrasted scale, sweeping vistas, touches of modernist architecture are recurring themes, inhabited by women of colour.”

A recent project of Charlotte’s includes her illustrations for The Spirit Almanac, a book written by Emma Loewe and Lindsay Kellner and published by Penguin Random House. Divided by seasonal chapters: each season’s six illustrations have their own individual colour palettes, motifs and atmospheres that respond to the spiritualist rituals of the book. "The book really discusses our connection to the earth and it’s elemental power, so exploring organic symbolism in response to that I loved,” she tells us. “The book is deeply introspective and it was such a joy to create a world that was both completely surreal and very calming.” 

Though the book has played a strong time-consuming part of her year to date, Charlotte, ever keen to create explorative work across illustration mediums, took on a fragrance campaign for Italian fashion house, Miu Miu. “I loved the idea of visualising a scent,” she says. “Fragrance is so multilayered, and drawing attention to everything that makes the scent really invites you to deconstruct it. I pulled from the separate floral ingredients, the bottle, the scent undertones and the sensation of wearing it to create worlds that embodied the different elements of Fleur d’Argent. It was very feminine and indulgent.”

Tapestry, too, plays a key role in Charlotte’s creative output. Initially started as a part of her desire to explore new mediums as much as possible, so far this has been a two-year project and one the illustrator is keen to keep evolving. “Each of the tapestries starts as a drawing in pencil or fine liner and digital colour, before being woven into large-scale tapestries. In essence, there are two separate pieces created for each tapestry. They are the largest works I have made to date, and I’m starting to embellish them further.”

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