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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.


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.


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.


What's your favourite kind of client brief?

Creative 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.


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.


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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