From BBC to Vogue to Penguin - meet the award-winning illustrator, Charlotte Edey

"I think the majority of what I explore is the reality of the modern female experience."

- Charlotte Edey

Immersive, arid dreamscapes characterise the illustrative world of Charlotte Edey, a nineties-born, London-based artist and designer with a client list as impressive as her work. We asked Charlotte a few questions...

When did you find art? And what was it about art that attracted you?

I’ve always found drawing to be instinctive, I didn't consider it making art until much later. Since I was a child, I've been a huge reader which inevitably led to an active imagination! Through reading I was always visualising scenes and characters, and found drawing useful to clarify them. I found early on drawing a way to communicate things that I couldn't quite articulate. Art keeps me curious.

You’ve described your work as lightly surreal, exploring the themes of female identity, fluidity and sensuality. What draws you to these explorations?

I've found making art as a young woman subconsciously documents my own progression. I think the majority of what I explore is the reality of the modern female experience. My heritage is English, Bajan & Irish and the harmonies and contradictions of that have been fairly defining for me. I feel that there is a lack of delicacy and nuance in depicting women of colour. It's important for me to explore the elegance of the female form and the unique beauty of natural afro hair through my characters.

You’ve created beautiful work with a variety of different materials including ceramics and concrete. How does your approach change from medium to medium? Or do you have a similar creative process with each?

What links each process is that everything starts with a sketch. Usually a couple of messy mock ups before a refined fineliner piece for the design. It is the transferring of illustrations to materials that I love to explore. Concrete is extremely temperamental; Leigh Cameron and I had dozens and dozens of test pieces, each different to the next. We played with adding tones to the concrete and mixing it with crushed jewels like quartz to create a beautiful sheen on the lines of the designs. It's fundamentally a playful process. On the other end of the spectrum, I learnt to hand engrave in copper which is really like drawing in reverse. Keeping your weight in a fixed position, you almost move the metal around that point. It's a very patient process, and quite unforgiving!

Pink is a colour that seems recurrent in much of your recent work. Is there an underlying idea behind the use of this colour or is this purely an aesthetic attraction?

I think the reclamation of pink in the last few years is quite interesting. Growing up I found it to be really cloying and avoided it like the plague, but I think there's a warmth and power to a subtle pink. It is unabashedly feminine but also a really versatile groundwork for a colour palette.

How do you tend to seek artistic growth? And how do you see your work evolving in the future?

Conceptually, I seek artistic growth through furthering my understanding of the world around me. I think as you become more self aware and confident, so will your artistic voice. Materially, I see my work taking more sculptural form in the next few years and am curious to see how they take shape as 3D pieces.

What are your unrealised projects, your dreams?

I'd pretty much adore to design a hotel or house. A pool-centric, utopian minimalist dream.

Any advice or words of wisdom for any younger artists reading this?

Don't expect it to look like you thought it would and above all, keep at it! Don't let rejection deter you. Learn from and collaborate with your peers. Enjoy the time you have to grow and develop as an artist. There's no shame in your day job and there's no expiry date on your artistic process.​

You can enjoy more of Charlotte's work on her website: