Charli Vince, an illustrator based in Norwich and the founder of Norwich Association of Illustrators, speaks to Concrete about her ever-changing artistic style, working through a pandemic and plans for 2021.
In which mediums do you typically work?
“At the moment it’s a mixture of digital media (Procreate on my iPad, primarily), watercolour, graphite and occasionally ink and dip pens. I have a huge love for highly textured surfaces, so I love to work with my watercolour paper then get a nice high-res scan onto my iPad to play around with and draw over.”
How would you describe your style?
“I’m somewhere in between realism and cartoon. I work with bright and warm colours a lot and I love illustrating for stories, characters, and unique narratives. But style is a constantly evolving thing. I love working with stories that have something intriguing or strange about them. I enjoy nothing more than creating visuals and communicating something in an illustrative way that would sometimes be hard to verbalise. Also, plants! Love drawing plants.”
Where do you find inspiration and who/what are your influences?
“A couple of my absolute favourite books are Wonder by Beatrice Blue and Skip by Molly Mendoza. Both of them have such stunningly unique illustrations, gorgeous colour palettes, and fascinating insights into their illustration. Other sources of inspiration are beautiful illustrative work on Pinterest, day to day life, and daydreaming. At the moment I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from my own personal mental health journey for a graphic novel hopefully coming this year.”
How was 2020 for you as an artist and how do you feel the year shaped your work?
“If it’s cliche to say “it was weird and confusing” then it’s for good reason! I moved into my co-working studio space in Norwich in January and had just settled in when the world shut down. I work full time as an illustrator and had previously worked from home, so fortunately I had a workspace in which to continue my client jobs from home, but it definitely took some re-adjusting. I feel the year made a lot of creative people more introspective and honest in the way they approach their practices, which was really nice to see. But there was this overwhelming pressure placed on folks, especially those who are self-employed, to use this time to ‘push’ themselves.”
How supported have you felt by the government or community groups throughout the pandemic?
“Community groups? Hugely. My fellow illustrators, the AOI and various other independent groups, both local and international, were a huge supporting force when the world went upside down. The support I received was mostly emotional support and was incredibly valuable. The government? Not so much. Whilst I was fortunate enough to qualify for the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, this scheme came in far too late and applied to far too few people.”
Other than the pandemic, what challenges have you faced as an artist?
“Going full-time in illustration was difficult. After leaving university in 2014, I battled (and continue to battle) self-doubt and imposter syndrome and tried my best to keep my love for illustration alive, which was hard work! Sometimes that battle comes in the form of forcing myself to do something, other times it looks more like cutting myself some slack and taking a break before burnout shows up. I’m trying to unlearn this incredibly capitalist approach to self-employment (work constantly, no days off, you should be stressed, etc).”
What advice would you give to those pursuing a career in art/illustration?
“Have an open mind to things outside your comfort zone! I was a very stubborn student and as I moved into the professional sphere, hardly ever trying new things. Now that that view has broadened, I feel much more confident in my abilities. Also, don’t listen to people who say, “draw every day no matter what.” Some days you won’t be able to draw/create/practice, and that’s ok! Never replace passion with obligation.”
How would you describe the art scene in Norwich?
“Glorious! It’s one of the main reasons I chose to study here and stay here after graduation. There’s a wonderful selection of independent collectives, including the amazing Site Collective, lots of independently owned shops and studios, and the city itself is full of fascinating buildings and scenery to keep folks inspired. I would love to see more affordable studio spaces come up in Norwich, however. There seems to be a huge abundance of unused office space which could easily be transformed into creative workspaces, bringing more business and more art into the city.”
Who are some of your favourite local artists?
“I have *so many* that I absolutely adore, but I’ll go through just a few. I utterly love all of Toby Rampton’s work (www.tobyrampton.com), his prints are so cheerful and full of positive messages and colours. I always enjoy seeing the work of Knapple (www.knapple.bigcartel.com) on endless walls and surfaces in and around Norwich, especially the glorious and ever changing (for various reasons) BLM mural she created in the Grapes Hill underpass. Beverley Coraldean (www.genealityart.com) is another favourite. I’m mad about her stunning screen prints showing off the most beautiful parts of Norwich as well as her amazing illustrative installations, from glass walls to entire sides of buildings.”
Do you have any new year’s resolutions for 2021?
“I desperately want to dedicate more time to working on my graphic novel, Tundra. Just before Christmas I finished 165 pages of the storyboard for the book which has given me a huge boost in wanting to see it come to life. It’s a project of incredible importance to me personally as well as professionally. I’m also going to aim to take a more active role in unlearning this toxic rhetoric and instead focus on working smarter, with more purpose, and less burnout!”
If you’d like to see more of Charli’s work, learn about the graphic novel Tundra, or get in touch, visit her website, www.charlivince.com and give her Instagram (@charliv_illustration) and Twitter (@Charlillustrate) a follow.