How did Charlotte Argyrou Illustration start? And tell me about your background?
Prior to launching my own business, I had a 12-year career in fashion PR, where I worked on celebrity dressing, store launches, editorial shoots and London, NYC, Paris and Milan shows. My first boss was high street retail guru Mary Portas, followed by years with a brand strategy agency in the luxury market.
When I had babies, I knew I didn’t want to travel so much or work all the late nights. It was during my time out that I rediscovered drawing after a 15 year break from my pencils. The business started because I approached a local horticultural lifestyle store to sell a couple of drawings I had done that were in the way at home. Fully expecting them to decline, they offered me a window exhibition! I made a logo, and that was unintentionally the beginning of a business. I shared a wedding bouquet illustration that I had drawn on my Instagram, and a stranger DMed me, asking me to draw hers. I launched a simple e-commerce website three months later.
What made you specialise in botanical and wedding bouquet illustration?
I’ve always been drawn to floral art – from the old Dutch Masters to contemporary interpretations. It made sense to turn my passion into my niche, as then every moment drawing commissions is a complete pleasure. The idea to specialise in wedding bouquets came to me when a group of school girlfriends and I pooled our funds to buy a best friend a wedding gift. Nothing we found felt special enough. “Bespoke” options online were really just customised, tacky or too sentimental for our tastes. I knew there must be a market of people just like me, trying to find a really unique wedding or anniversary gift that wasn’t too weddingy.
How does your process work?
It’s really simple. I work from photography sent to me by newlyweds or their friends and relatives after the wedding. Usually, my clients wait to receive their professional photography before they send their bouquet images on to me. High resolution makes my job easier, but I can also work from phone snaps!
First, I offer an email/phone consultation about the size and orientation of the illustration.
Next, I draw a precise pencil outline and share with my customers to approve.
Finally, I proceed to colour.
The artwork is sent via Royal Mail Special Delivery (signed for and fully insured) within a month of the booking.
What marketing tools do you use?
I post on Instagram most days, sharing a mixture of my creative inspirations from high fashion to interior design, plenty of beautiful botanicals, behind the scenes of my illustration work and – of course – flowers by all my favourite floral designers. You can follow along at @charlotte.argyrou
My blog https://www.charlotteargyrou.com/blog/ is loosely themed around creative living and floral dreams. I create posts with both newlyweds and wedding/creative business suppliers in mind. I love welcoming guest editors to the blog to share their floral ideas.
I’m a keen Pinner https://www.pinterest.co.uk/argyrouillustration/ for both my business and my personal life. Though sometimes, when I need to get really creative within my business, I find Pinterest to noisy and distracting. I prefer to look inside for pure inspiration, rather than feeling overwhelmed by other people’s ideas.
I have also started a newsletter called Still Life. It’s an exploration of my own slow living journey, and pairs my current inspirations, favourites reads, listens and bakes with my highlight blog posts and news from within my business. You can sign up on my website homepage. https://www.charlotteargyrou.com/
Who is your ideal client/brief?
My ideal newlywed client is a bride who was absolutely obsessed with the flowers at her wedding. Half my bookings come from brides who book my Wedding Bouquet Illustration Service for a gift to themselves. I love that about my bride. She spent months and months meticulously planning every detail, colour palettes and species selection with her florist, and now she wants an elegant and unique way to preserve those emotions and efforts.
What is your favourite flower?
To draw, the more complex and tonal the better: ranunculi, a Café au Lait Dahlia, a protea, a complex carnation. Personally, I adore foliage as much as florals. I find ferns captivating and love the shapes of leaves on an olive branch.
What does a typical day look like for you? Do you have a self-care ritual?
Pre- or during quarantine?! Before the Coronavirus interruption, a typical day involves juggling work around my four year old, who only starts school in September 2020. We’ll drop off my six year old at school, and then either be at ballet or an activity, or at home baking or crafting. Once she’s in nursery for the afternoon, I have a couple of hours drawing time in my home studio. Mostly, blogging and social media is once they are in bed for the night. When I have a bigger commission or lots on at once, I rope in grandparents to lend a hand. It’s a little chaotic at times, but it means I’ve been able to build a business and a brand from home, before they are both in school. I’ll hit the ground running in September. That’s the aim, anyway, if Coronavirus would bore off.
Self-care to me is all about getting clear on what I want and what success looks and feels like when I achieve it. I’ve learned there is always time for whatever I make my priority. Some weeks, that’s about getting to the gym and dances classes four times a week. Other weeks it’s about cooking new recipes. Maybe it’s about tidying up the studio and re-doing my pinboard. With two young children, it can feel like time is taken from you and there’s never enough of it for all the work that needs to be done. But each positive step forward is a win and with a bit of planning, each day is my own to manage.
Where do you find inspiration? Films, exhibitions, art, fashion?
I’m a fashion devotee and always have half an eye on the catwalks. I’m lucky to have worked with some of the world’s biggest brands and most influential designers, so even though I’m now an illustrator I’m still in the habit of reading fashion business news and my favourite industry blogs. Since we bought a house, I’ve gone through the natural evolution of cheating on fashion with furniture, and now Arch Digest and Apartment Therapy are two of my staples.
Experiences of being in nature are deeply inspiring to me. Visits to Britain’s beaches and beautiful woodlands are so good for the soul.
I’m new to meditating, but whereas I used to look outside myself for ideas, I’m growing more comfortable with trusting my gut and ideas that pop into my head when I give myself time to breathe.
Do you have a favourite garden to visit?
I love a day out at Kew Gardens or National Trusting. When we are allowed out again, I’m desperate to visit the Garden Museum and Dulwich Picture Gallery (next to beautiful Dulwich Park) both in SE London, and RHS Wisley in Surrey.
My favourite garden is my own. It’s only 4m x 4m – tiny really – so rural folk probably wouldn’t even describe it as a garden! But we have a little playhouse that’s been spruced up to look like a hipster coffee shop. There’s a little table and chairs. It’s a bit of a squeeze for four of us to sit together, but light enough to pick up and plonk in the sunniest spot at different times of day. There’s a lime tree, lemon tree and olive tree, all in containers. We have a useful-but-ugly water butt we are trying to grow a clematis around to disguise. Finally, we have about x25 little pots and containers, with tomato, pepper and chili seedlings already doing well.
Wild Wood London X Charlotte Argyrou illustration Charlotte has created a beautiful Wedding bouquet illustration, colouring-in sheet of one of our bridal bouquets. To download and print click here
Website – Charlotte Argyrou, botanical illustrator
Photography – Nicole Howe Photography
If you would like to know more about our services please head over to our Contact Page and get in touch. I would love to hear all about your project!