Belle's Journal No. 2: Charlie Dot

Charlie Dot is a graphic designer and illustrator and lives in Haarlem. As a graphic designer she works for magazines like Vogue, Marie Claire and (her own magazine) Shot of Joy. But this busy bee also makes feminine and fierce illustrations, always inspired by strong female identities. As you can imagine, a match made in heaven with Belle’s Club! Therefore we asked Charlie to visualize the identity of Belle’s Club and we also teamed up for a limited edition tee, which is available as of today.

How did you become a fashion illustrator slash graphic designer?

It all grew naturally I guess. But me being a graphic designer slash illustrator is mostly because I discovered that this works for me. During art school I went to Denmark for a project abroad and there I combined typographic design with illustrating and then I knew: this is me and this is want I want to do the rest of my life, or at least a big part of it. Back in The Netherlands I started freelancing and the amount of clients grew fluently. The art-director of my former internship started a new position at Marie Claire and asked me to go with her. And I started working for Vogue after sending my portfolio to Marie Nanette. She signed me up for me a really big assignment: the Vogue Maxima special. Later, I founded Shot of Joy together with Marie.

What distinguishes your work?

I think it’s really feminine and with a hint of rock and roll. My main question always is: is it gurly gurly or to miss Goody Two-Shoes? If so, I will erase it immediately. My work will never be frumpy! Another condition: my work must attract women and men. I must say there is a slight difference between my graphic design and my illustration though. The graphic design I do is for media brands, so I have to work within a certain frame. The illustrations I make are more personal, more me - more Charlie.

How do you get inspired?

Strong female identities really inspire me. The type of woman that I find interesting is fierce and knows what she wants, the fuck-the-world kinda girl. And besides that I have a thousand Pinterest boards to inspire me. Before illustrating I always scroll through my boards and I really get in to the creative vibe. I’m also a big music fan and music can be a real source of inspiration as well, because lyrics can be really inspiring. And last but not least: my friends. They are also a huge aspiration.

What are your earliest experiences with fashion, your starting point?

I became intrigued by fashion at a young age. I guess my taste has always been different then the average little girl. My mother really supported me in that as a child. I remember a trip to London with my parents where we almost spend the entire weekend searching for the Spice Girls platforms shoes that I really really wanted. Eventually we found them. They were a few sizes to big, but I wore them anyway. Looking back at that I really appreciate the support and patience of my parents. As a child I bought things that I was afraid to wear to school, but which I really liked. When I think of my earliest experiences with fashion, my two nieces also come into my mind. They grew up in Amsterdam and I always looked up to them. Their mother, my aunt, was a real style icon; she even got married in a black dress!

What is your opinion about the fashion industry nowadays?

That’s an interesting question to answer now, because I’m actually on a shop stop with my colleagues from Marie Claire. And I can tell you; it is really hard for me! I’m the girl that knows about all collections, I’m subscribed to all the fashion newsletters you can think of and I’m on a lot of shopping apps. But I discovered more recently there’s a darker side to the fashion industry, namely the negative impact on the climate and the people working in the clothing industry. I’m not a person that doesn’t care, so I started to look very critical to my own closet and my own shopping behavior and concluded I’m a real shopping addict. I talk a lot about this theme with my colleagues at work and we started this no shopping challenge in January. I haven’t bought anything for a month now and the not buying is actually not that hard, but I really miss the endorphin of buying something new. That’s also a big eye opener for me. To protect myself, I don’t go to shops, I removed all the shopping apps from my phone and I unsubscribed myself to mostly all newsletters. And I must say: it brings a lot peace to mind. After the shopping stop I want to skip the ‘fast’ part of fashion. Buy less, buy more vintage and buy pieces that are really me and not ‘on trend.’

What does independence mean to you?

Making my own choices, to be free. The real cool part of being a freelancer is working with all these different editorial departments and fulfilling different kind of roles. I really like meeting new people all the time. The hard part is all the planning, the many deadlines and the administration part. But in the end it is all worth it. I would never want to have a fulltime job, I really like being my own boss.

Who is your spirit animal?

Oehh, though question. I have several I guess. First of all my cool mum. But okay, If I must say someone that we all know I think about Etta James, miss peaches! I’ve listened to her every day. Her voice is so powerful, characteristic and such a powerhouse! I would say the perfect combination of Ariel the mermaid, with the swagger of Mick Jagger and the moves and voice of Beyoncé. Combining the masculine with the feminine is always a big part of me I guess, for my work as well. I have a lot of male friends, but I work at Vogue. I draw feminine illustrations, but they always have something really bold.

The illustration Charlie made for Belle's Club is now available online in limited edition. Shop here.