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The Interview with Fashion Illustrator Charlotte GreevenArticle by: Veronica Baesso

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The Moment We Believe That We Have Never Met
The Moment We Believe That We Have Never Met (Images Courtesy of Charlotte Greeven)

During my most recent trip to Amsterdam I discovered the art work of fashion illustrator Charlotte Greeven. I was immediately attracted to her unique style and knew I had to learn more about her work and what inspired her. Below is the result of our conversation and you can learn more about the work of this amazing artist. Enjoy!

How did you become a fashion illustrator?

I studied Textile & Fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague, Netherlands. I’ve always been into character drawings and during my studies I developed this passion. I combine fashion drawing with life drawing and textile design. I’m not a fashion illustrator ‘pur sang’; I like to use classic life drawing techniques to tell a story about my characters.

What drew you to illustration?

I think anyone who loves his/her profession and puts his/her heart into it, feels like that’s the thing he/she HAS to do. A force from the universe pulled me completely into arts, fashion and illustration and all I could do was go for it! 🙂

Adobe Photoshop PDF
Leisure Suit Lady

Who inspires/influences you?

I get inspired by the Decadence era, where artists such as Oscar Wilde, Egon Schiele, and Aubrey Beardsley were constantly looking for the thin line between beauty and decay. Another source of inspiration comes from movies: The Silence of The Lambs, Old Boy, Orfeo Negro, and works from Wes Anderson, Tim Burton, Alfred Hitchcock, The Coen Brothers, Stanley Kubrick and Ghibli Studios. Music is also a great source of inspiration. Lately I’m into Vivaldi, I love to pick artists from the past and make a big research about them. I listen to old and contemporary music from all over the world and I also get inspired by electronic music parties.

Who are your muses/subjects?

I love to create imaginary heroes, to confront us with the powerful and dark side of our own character. I also take a lot of inspiration from the way we present ourselves on social media and the new ‘gods’ of this age; some icons ‘we’ worship are mainly famous from reality shows. Famous for being famous. This puts a lot of pressure on them, their talent lies in profiling themselves as the big star everyday, although it’s not really clear what talent they have that inspires us. They have to keep showing they’re the big hit or we might lose interest and pick a new star. Andy Warhol said: ‘In the future, everybody will be famous for 15 minutes.’ Seems like his prediction came true! It’s interesting to see how we choose our superheroes (in sense of celebrities) these days and especially what that says about us.

Charlotte-Greeven-Lover, You Shouldve Come Over
Lover, You Should’ve Come Over

How do your pieces come together? What is your creation process?

I develop a story or base a character on an existing story that inspires me, like the animal kingdom stories of Toon Tellegen (a Dutch writer, his work is translated in a lot of languages. I truly recommend it!). They are stories about humans and human psychology, told through animals in a beautiful and poetic way. I develop a character that could be used also for animation, one of my plans for the near future 🙂 but we’ll talk more about that later!

Do you use any specific techniques in your work?

I use classic analog techniques like pencil drawing, aquarel, soft pastels, collage and painting. I design and create textiles, and use them as analog or digital collage material. I also love to manipulate the images with digital techniques, but I try to keep it subtle. The fundamental image is always made by hand.

Charlotte-Greeven-Minor Swing Bday Selfie
Minor Swing Bday Selfie

Can you describe your work setting?

I live with my prince in a really nice apartment in Amsterdam, in a very lively neighbourhood close to the centre. My atelier is part of the apartment. I love working at home, but I like to keep my work area separate from my personal stuff. The atelier space gives me this freedom.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy not knowing exactly what the future will bring, the excited feeling of being scared to take a new step and then being super proud I did it! I’m in the middle of applied arts and fine arts, and I’m looking forward to really focus on this combination and do many interdisciplinary projects.

Charlotte-Greeven-The Other Woman
The Other Woman

 Can you tell us about any future project you are working on?

YES! I’m working as a costume designer with fashion designers MaryMe-JimmyPaul on a great 3D stop motion animation film project by film maker Jasper Kuipers. The film is called Finity Calling, it’s about the relativity of time and appearance. Everything is handmade. The figures are sculpted as eroded ancient Greek statues, but the molds are cast in silicones and painted again to resemble the original. This gives an alienating but at the same time very natural appearance. The costumes are a huge challenge and very fulfilling. The filming will start soon, keep an eye on Finity Calling!

I’m also very interested in animation, in my drawings I always think about film possibilites. I aspire to a future where I can combine animation (2D or 3D) with illustration, life drawing, and make films or build exhibitions to share a whole visual experience. I would love to work together with other visual artists, film makers, product designers, fashion designers, etc!

Do you have any advice for others who are pursuing a career in this field?

Work hard and don’t give up when it seems like you’re stuck. This moment of chaos means you’re critical of your work, ambition is the main thing. Stay positive, don’t judge the unknown and say YES to many new (work) experiences.

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