Charlotte Greeven is a Dutch fashion illustrator and teacher based in Amsterdam. In 2012, she graduated from The Hague’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Fashion & Textile Design. She specialises in fashion illustrations and portraits. Her style can be described as romantic with an eerie echo to it. Ramona Deckers met up with her to talk devotion and teaching drawing.
Charlotte, how do you describe your personal style?
It’s always a bit romantic and a bit dark. I love to make melodramatic (fashion) portraits, I prefer the subjects with yesterday’s make-up and a bouquet of decayed flowers on their face.
You are inspired by legendary anti-heroes from the past. Is there any present-day writer, poet or designer who inspires you?
Alexander McQueen is an all-time hero of mine and I finally got to see his work in real life at the V&A Museum. It was so moving to see all the beautifully crafted garments and really feel the story behind it. The work of Ghibli Studios also really inspires me. Innocence, overcoming fear, growing up and finding your place and character; I think those are very sweet and realistic themes of life. Of course the combination with magical creatures is vital. I really love animation. Another work that moved and inspired me is ‘Song of the See’ by Tomm Moore.
Can you tell us something about the courses you are running at the moment?
I teach fashion illustration, it’s a lot of fun! I like to challenge the students to experiment as much as they can to reach their goals. Drawing and designing is all about creating an image that reflects a mood, atmosphere, feeling or style, in a way that make it believable. It doesn’t matter what you make; I don’t care about ‘ugly’ or ‘pretty’ – that’s so subjective. My course is about finding your own signature in work and ways to create ‘complete’ images that reflect what’s in your head. I strongly believe that something can be as tacky, campy, chic or messy as you want, as long as it’s done with a lot of quality and devotion.
What encouraged you to pursue a career in teaching fashion illustration and becoming a fashion illustrator?
I love to share stories and knowledge and to inspire and be inspired by other people. Teaching is something I always wanted to do – I have my own course now, but I would really love to teach in an art academy. While studying I was always drawing and illustrating. I found more passion and fun in this than actually making the garments. I like to dream about (fictional) characters and their costumes, so drawing and designing them gives me more fulfilment than actually trying to make them come to life myself. I prefer to work with someone else who is much more talented in the technical field of fashion. Of course, I would love my characters and portraits to become alive, preferably in animation or motion graphics.
Are there any interesting projects you are currently working on? I remember you drew on tote bags for Ted Baker a while ago?
Yes, that was cool! Right now I’m working on my fashion portrait / fashion illustration portfolio. I really do want my figures to come alive so I’m planning to learn all about animation and motion graphics the coming period. I’m represented by PUP one, which is part of the PUP creative agency – they are not only an agency but also a really inspiring creative platform. In the past few years I’ve been working on amazing projects through and with them and I’m looking forward to everything that lies ahead. I made a book about the Netherlands; the ‘reader’ has to connect lots of dots to make a Dutch cityscape or landscape appear. It’s called ‘Nederland van punt naar punt’ (the Netherlands; connecting the dots) and it’s in stores now.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Making movies, creating moving image (fashion) campaigns, illustrating books, maybe producing a small clothing line, painting portraits, teaching courses hopefully all over the world, because I love travelling. And of course, making drawings, portrait paintings and illustrations.