Artist of the Week: Charlotte McIntosh

Posted on

Charlotte McIntosh may only be 22, but she already has the great job of being able to call herself her own boss, and all in the comfort of her cosy Southampton home with her hairy husband-to-be and 2 naughty cats. You go girl! Her kitsch illustrations include family portraits that feature your pet pooches and tote bags covered with Mary Berry endorsed soggy bottoms. We caught up with the talented little lady to chat Wes Anderson, David Bowie and dressing like your Nan.

For those who don't know, tell us a bit about who you are and the work you produce.

Hello! I am a 22 year old illustrator living in Southampton, UK with my husband-to-be and two naughty ginger cats. I have just graduated from Winchester School of Art studying a degree in Fine Art in which I learnt that I'm more of an illustrator kind of gal! I have always used drawing and painting as a form of mindfulness and relied on it heavily during my degree as I didn't have much time for just good old fashioned sketching. That's where most of my prints and ideas stem from, watching the TV and doodling. I started my own business officially at the beginning of this year after launching my commissions last Christmas. Family makes my world rotate (major cheese but true) and I'm lucky that I've found a way to incorporate my passion for creativity and portraying loving relationships in the form of my portraits!

You're based in Southampton, what's so great about living down south?

I have lived in Southampton with my family all my life. I'm a complete home bird and could never stray far. All of my favourite places are always by the sea, Brighton especially. Southampton is central for where I need to be, close enough to London, surrounded by the wonders of the New Forest and a good city where there are lots of improvements going on meaning there are so many places to go to be creative. Feeling safe in my surroundings is crucial to me every day, which is probably why I have never lived away from my hometown!

What do you think Etsy has done for the likes of artists like yourself who create with their hands and try to make a living from their craft?

Etsy is great. I've shopped on it for years as it's so perfect to find unique, special gifts and at the same time support all those amazing small and independent businesses. I also find you get a completely personal service when you order from an Etsy shop. Knowing that those people have taken the time to personally update every one of their customers about their orders, made, wrapped the products and waved it goodbye at the post office themselves. Don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for all kinds of online shopping (the excitement I get when I get deliveries is becoming unhealthy) but there's something about that little handwritten letter with the handmade item you ordered that is just so lovely and inspiring.

I've been an avid instagrammer for years and started posting my work up on there. After receiving some interest in my illustrations, I got motivated to start selling. The idea of creating a whole website from scratch with a shop was very daunting when I first started out. So Etsy was the perfect place to set me up. You have to push it though. That was one thing I learnt after neglecting my Etsy at the beginning after setting it up and waiting for those orders to start flooding in like magic. Even though Etsy really helps narrow down the creative world from the monstrous 'Google' world, you've still got to put in that effort which teaches you a lot about your own brand. Taking the time to take good photos, write out thoughtful descriptions and interact closely with every single customer is all SO worth it!!

After only recently discovering your work I have to admit I have become slightly obsessed/stalked your whole blog and instagram feed. It looks like you take loads of inspiration from vintage style. What do you love about vintage so much?

I admit. I am a major Instagram addict. I love it so much. It connects you to so many amazing people that you can interact with. It's the one social platform that I've really put my all into. My blog however, is a whole other story. I just need to get into the swing of it all. I'm not a writer, I focus more on the visuals, so the blog posts I have (the tiny amount of them) are very photo heavy. I'm trying to update it more so keep your eyes peeled!

My love of vintage has been passed down to me by my Nan, Mum and older sisters. Growing up, my weekends were spent on trips to the local charity shops or helping my sister, Mandy, out with her vintage clothing stall, Pretty Petticoat, where she travelled to markets and festivals with it. That was so much fun and that's where I found my style.. A combination of 1950s and 60s with some guest appearances from the 80s. Basically, my Nan. Vintage style and homeware is a huge part of my life and I'm lucky that I met Tom, who has exactly the same taste as me and gets just as excited as me in charity shops and vintage stores.

Sounds like you love Wes Anderson just as much as we do. Why is Fantastic Mr Fox your favourite?

If I could live in a world where Wes Anderson has directed it, I would be one happy lady. Everything about his films are perfect, from the clothes to the setting and the colour palettes.. THOSE COLOURS! He is definitely my biggest inspiration. My whole Pinterest is basically an homage to him.. And foxes! Which is why Fantastic Mr Fox is my favourite. Foxes have always been my favourite animal. They are magical. I even found two cats that look a little bit like foxes! So seeing Fantastic Mr Fox for the first time, my heart just leapt. Any film which has handcrafted woodland characters, Meryl Streep AND Bill Murray in is a winner in my eyes.

What do you most enjoy drawing?

I love my commissions. They make me so happy! I love knowing as much detail as possible and asking what clothes they want to be wearing because that's my favourite bit. I recently drew a portrait of my Nan and Grandad for my Mum and her brothers as she was going back up to her hometown. I based it on an old black and white photo of the two of them and loved painting their clothes and hair and bringing them to life from this old photograph.

I also get really excited every time I get a pet commission and receive all the photographs of peoples pets. It fills me with so much joy when I'm drawing people's dogs, cats, etc because you can tell they're so loved.

How do you come up with ideas for what to draw when you're not illustrating kitschy family portraits? Your Mary Berry soggy bottom totes were genius!

I am obsessed with all those things your Nana would probably be obsessed with so, of course, my prints reflect that. My Mary Berry design actually was created as a birthday card for my GBBO obsessed sister, Vicky. I create things that I would personally want in my home. I think this is important in order to keep passionate about your work to keep you creating more. At the same time I also have to keep in mind what is 'on trend' as it's no good if I'm the only one that finds something hilarious or attractive. So that's why a lot of my designs stem from current affairs and culture that I am also into. David Bowie's death was one that struck me. My dad was greatly affected by his passing so I painted him as a tribute. I got so much interest in the painting with people wanting a print so asked those who wanted the print to make a donation to Cancer Research and just pay for postage. That print is still one of my best selling items on Etsy which I love because every time one is bought, I think of my dad and how much he loved the painting.

Is it hard trying to constantly motivate yourself when you're your own boss or is it completely liberating and great?

It is a learning curve! My business is still a baby, turning 1 this February. Everyday I feel so lucky that this is my job. I suffer from anxiety and have done for a while now which is difficult to control so I do have my bad days where I struggle with forcing myself to paint. But once I get going, my anxieties take a back seat. I thought it was all about routine for me. Get up around the same time most days, give myself a lunch and stop at a sensible time. Of course, that's harder than it sounds. I'm yet to find the perfect balance with my work, social life and self care but I'll get there! When you enjoy what you do so much, it doesn't really feel like you're working which is AMAZING but can sometimes mean you don't make time for anything else.

We love your family portraits that you do, just waiting for my boyfriend to inevitably buy me a pug so I can put in my order. Have you ever had any strange requests?

Make sure to drop those pug hints! Subliminal messages in his sleep may be worth a go?

Getting strange requests is the best. I love a challenge. When I first began my commissions, I was asked to do a custom couples painting. The client wanted her boyfriend to be painted as a sloth wearing a snapback and herself to be painted as a penguin. I'd never painted either so I was nervous but was happy to have a good go! Now that painting is one of my favourite commissions I've ever done! From that I got a lot of other animal portrait requests including a porcupine, turtle and puffin family portrait!

We love your motto 'boring is best', snuggling up in pj's with a cuppa surrounded by fairy lights is my idea of heaven. What would your ultimate lazy Sunday consist of?

That is my life! I love it!

Sundays are my favourite day anyway because Tom is usually on his day off. A lazy day always has to start with a lie in. Although our naughty cats usually wake us up early because they're hungry. Always. Follow with a slow morning in our pyjamas making poached eggs and forcing Tom to watch Gilmore Girls with me. Once Tom buys me the sausage dog I've been talking about having for a year and a half now, we can take him out on a long wintery walk around the New Forest and explore. Come back and make a hearty roast dinner for us and end on a bath for me and binge watching vlogs! Sunday is new bed sheets day and there is nothing better than getting into bed after a bath in fresh pyjamas and sheets! Boring is definitely best!

Head over to Charlotte's website or follow her on instagram. Interview by Danielle Morgan.