In our new series of interviews, The Making of Estuary 2021, we take a closer look at what it takes to put on an arts festival, including exploring the variety of professions involved.
Hi! I’m Charlotte of Joe & Charlotte Creative Studio, a specialist signwriter, graphic designer and muralist. As a part of Estuary 2021, I was commissioned to work on outdoor installations of quotes from locals about the estuary called The Water Replies.
What is your specialism and how did it come to life when working on this project?
Our specialism is bringing to life our designs, or those of others into striking murals. Every project is different and comes with unique challenges that you can’t always predict, but we love to troubleshoot and problem solve and that really helped with this project.
Creative Estuary is working to develop the creative industry cluster in the Thames Estuary – how did you come to run your business in the Estuary? What are the advantages of being located in the Estuary?
We have a great community and network here; the area is big, but small. There’s definitely a strong history of networking and community – often one person or job will lead to another, and as long as you’re willing to get involved in some respect there is usually an opportunity. It’s much easier to have that somewhere smaller rather than somewhere like London.
And there is always something around the corner; someone trying to do something new.
What was the most unexpected challenge that you faced?
Working outdoors and in different locations gave us two unexpected challenges, the first is having to adapt our techniques depending on the environment and the second was the weather!
At Shoeburyness, the installation was in a former military shelter and there was no power and it needed a good clean!
We were working outdoors during the week when we had at least three seasons in one day; we’d start in a gale, get soaking in downpours but then contend with scorching sunshine. This meant that we had to be flexible and at times divert from our plans – trust us, you don’t want to be trying to hold huge paper patterns and them with powder in a gale! But you have to work with what you’re given.
Can you talk us through the main highlights in delivering this project?
It was when I was painting and I could hear people walking past and reading what has been painted and them saying “ahhh, that’s really cool”. It was nice to hear that good feedback, especially while you’re on site still working on something.
When you chose your career did you think you would be involved in the creative industry?
Yes. I love painting and I love typography – I have the perfect job! When I was younger and whilst doing a graphic design degree, I worked in a lot of pubs and was always the one who updated the various signs – and I really enjoyed it; working with layout and type! I thought that was what I wanted to do, so took on a couple of jobs and I just enjoyed it from there.
How do you describe what you do to your friends and family?
We call ourselves a creative studio as we have a range of things we work on from design to murals and websites to photography. If you asked them though, my family would probably say we shoot weddings and paint shops!
What’s the most unusual trade or organisation you have worked with?
I feel like there are a few but I can’t think of any offhand! We get so many enquiries and have done loads of small things, but with the diverse audience and clients it’s difficult to nail it down.
What is the one thing you wish the general public knew about this project?
That it’s all done by hand. The letters were hand-painted. Most people may think they have been sprayed on and we used a stencil or are vinyl but they were meticulously painted in a traditional method that’s taken years to learn.
What else are you working on at the moment?
Next is a corporate project. We’re painting murals – more beautiful hand lettering – of their mission and purpose across their lobby.