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Focal Point: Charles Williams is Made Up

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Made Up is the commercial illustration and type studio of Charles Williams. Rooted in drawing, geometric shapes, the continuous line, isometric grids, interconnected forms and a surreal three-dimensional aesthetic, we’ve long been a fan of his work for clients including Nike, Soho House, BBC and The Washington Post. And hey, we love the studio name as well...

So, tell us a bit about Made Up

I picked the name 'Made Up' because I used to live in Liverpool and everyone says it a lot. So if you say "I'm made up with this drawing" it means something along the lines of "I am happy with this drawing". I liked it because it has a nice positive feel to it, and it also refers to making stuff up (literally), which is essentially what I do!

I used to be a graphic designer but now I am quite focused on illustrative typography or typographic illustration – depending on what mood I'm in. This can be applied to editorial work, ad campaigns, exhibitions, branding. The list is finite.

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Your work is very firmly rooted in drawing. How has this practice changed over the years to incorporate technology within your core practice?

The more I work, the more my practice reverts back to basic drawing techniques. But I do use a Cintiq 27QHD for designing my digital work, so I suppose that's quite futuristic.

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Which came first – your love of type or your love of illustration? These days is your work divided 50/50 by the two?

I've never been the biggest fan of traditional illustration per se, the work I liked most when I got into design was done by people who were creating hybrids of different disciplines such as graphic design & illustration, type & illustration, fine art & graphic design. I guess my love of type comes first and these days I'd say my work is split 80/20 in favour of it, but most projects I work on have an illustrative aspect.

Your work spans print, digital, animation and more. Do you have a favourite medium, or one you return to time and time again?

Print is best! Always print. I would like to explore animation a bit more, but in a collaborative way, like with my recent Bestival motion graphics.

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What's your favourite kind of client brief?

Creative freedom...is the worst kind of brief. I like it when a client has a strong idea of the type of finish they want, but when they also have faith in my ability to come up with the best creative solution. I think generally speaking confident clients –who have confidence in you as the practitioner– are the best.

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Describe your desk It's wooden.

It's messy. It's not very sexy. But it's mine. Well... I rent it.

What are the most important influences in your work?

Music, drawing, positivity, coffee, food and cycling.

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Have you worked on any briefs recently that took your work in a new direction?

I did some work for the Oscars recently where the AD allowed me to work in a really creative way. I created type by hand, photographed it with my iPhone and processed it in Photoshop... with some great results.

What new technology are you currently enjoying using?

Cintiq. Adobe Illustrator CC.

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