Charlotte Perez’s embroidered anatomical creations do not go unnoticed on social networks. Meeting with a French artist full of pep!
Interview: Claire de Pourtalès
Photos: © Charlotte Perez
The content of this site is free and is not damaged by un-welcomed publicity. I do this work with love and passion but it requires a lot of time. I would like to continue to offer a wider market to our artists, to show how embroidery is a wonderful art. But I do need a little bit of help. If you feel like it, you can participate with a little donation to help me continue. I will be so grateful! Thank you! Claire
Your story with embroidery
I have been doing embroidery since I was little, I have always had a strong bond with the thread.
I lived part of my childhood in the heart of Paris and a longer part in the countryside. I’ve always loved cities because things more accessible there, giving me a feeling of independence.
Art is important in my family, but not essential. However, once I was old enough to decide what I wanted to do, my family helped me.
I started with cross stitch lessons in high school. Then I left that in a corner of my head while I studied Art History and visual arts. At the end of my studies, I rented a workshop with designers, artists and graphic designers and I tested various techniques related to the thread. One day I wanted to make an embroidered sweatshirt and I struggled to find how to do it and that’s when I realized that I had to get a CAP diploma to know how to stitch. So I resumed my studies and during my first class, the first time I sat in front of my embroidery loom I told myself that I was where I needed to be, it was a revelation: this was my life. So I passed my exam and then went on to the Brevet des Métiers d’Art because I wanted to acquire even more know-how.
Blooming Heart, 2019 (detail) © Charlotte Perez
Blooming lungs, 2019 © Charlotte Perez
How is your art evolving?
My embroidery evolves a lot depending on my life and what I experience through it. And the more I embroider, the more I want to go further and explore new things.
Life also plays its part: when my grandfather had a heart problem, I started doing my anatomical embroidery. Before that event, I was much more into a pop and colorful movement
What are your influences ? Your favorites artists?
I really like both visual and figurative arts. I love abstract embroidery, I find it sublime but it does not look like me. Everything inspires me, it can be nature or an illustration or a painting.
My favorite artists don’t have much to do with my work but I find them very inspiring for many reasons, Sophie Calle, Pierre Soulages…
I admire Sophie Calle because she uses what she experiences to turn it into a work of art. Last year I saw an exhibition of her works in Marseille about the death of her mother and it was extremely touching. She had used different media and techniques to express her relationship with her mother. It was really beautiful. I find that she represents contemporary art in all its glory.
What do you gain from creating by hand?
I really like all the techniques in embroidery. If I do a lot of needlework, I will quickly miss the hook, and vice versa. But I think the technique that most resembles me is needle painting.
I don’t see myself doing another job than mine, it’s a huge pleasure to make a creation where you put your time, your love and a part of yourself into it every time. And when we see that other people love it, it’s just the greatest satisfaction.
What does embroidery do for you that other media can’t?
It’s very difficult to explain but it’s obvious to me. I sew, crochet, weave or make macrame but it’s for leisure. Embroidery is my job, my everything. It combines everything I love: fabrics, threads, needles and endless possibilities.
Blooming shirt, 2020 © Charlotte Perez
Blooming womb, 2019 © Charlotte Perez
Where and how do you work?
I work in a workshop that I rent. I worked for a long time in a workshop in my apartment but found that I needed to get out of my house and not work alone. I work during the day with mainly one TV series in the background. I know everything about all Netflix series!
At the start, I have an idea, I look for documentation and then I make the design, then I transfer it to my fabric and I start. I always have an idea in my head of what I want to do but when I choose the colors, the textures, that’s when the project becomes real. And it is the most pleasant part I find.
When I’m making my own creations and not orders, I embroider what touches me, moves me. Before I do any embroidery I have the idea which is like an obsession and I am very excited to start it and when it is done, I can move on. It’s like I’ve come full circle, a fulfilled desire.
I also do the finishing touches. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but it helps make the piece really complete, it brings it to an end.
And if I’m lucky, what I’m doing affects other people then I’ve won it all.
Is there a piece that is particularly close to your heart? Why ?
Oh I think it’s “Precious Heart”. This piece particularly touches me because it connects a lot of things in it. I have a very strong bond with my grandfather who died last year of heart problems (my anatomical series went unintentionally from there). And I like the mix of colors, materials and textures. This mix creates a whole image from afar, but when you get closer you can see all the details, the different materials, colors … and in the end each stitch stands out and differentiates itself before creating this jumbled but coherent ensemble that I particularly like.
Precious heart, 2020 © Charlotte Perez
Mimosa, 2020 © Charlotte Perez
Blooming womb, 2020 © Charlotte Perez
Artist and entrepreneur: how is it going?
I don’t know anything else, so I have no comparison. It’s great to work for yourself, but you have to do everything yourself and have several hats, so you don’t always spend the time you would like to create.
Any anecdote you could share with us?
Going on vacation is very hard for me because I would like to take my whole workshop with me “just in case”. I don’t know if I would embroider, but I need to have as many things as possible with me. Otherwise I would miss something, a feeling of emptiness. Embroidery is part of me.