Sunday, 29 January 2012

#FindOutFriday with Charli-Anne Shirley!

Charli-Anne Shirley

For me, this one isn't just any interview.

Learning what makes a talented person 'tick' is always interesting. Getting a 'glimpse behind the curtain' of someone you know well, that reaches hidden depths you had no clue you would find? Well that is one of the most hypnotic things that I think I have ever come across. I've 

For those unfamiliar; Charli-Anne Shirley is the Founder and 'Designer Extraordinaire' behind Web and Graphic Design company Jelli Ltd. She is also the extremely talented Visionary and Creator of Vintage Fashion, Accessory and Printed Apparel brand, deer oh deer. It was only a matter of time before I raked her over the coals! Find out what happened when I put the most creative lady I know (who just so happens to be one of my nearest and dearest), under the spotlight...

1. So Mrs S; let start at the very beginning in a very Julie Andrews-like manner. I'm privileged enough to know that your earliest Artistic Influence comes from your lovely Dad, John. Can you remember the first piece of Art to inspire you?

Charli with Dad, John
YOU! Always with the hard questions (laughs)! Well Art has always been a massive part of my life; from 'day dot' really so I have far too many memories to just pinpoint one! My Dad was an Art teacher before he retired, so he is knowledgeable about the subject in general. I remember he used to take me to exhibitions when I was really small. He was so passionate about it...I suppose that more than the Art itself, my first real memory was of seeing my Dad and thinking "Wow; this person, is totally in love with this thing". From a young age; I remember seeing what was obviously a huge much in love he was with something that was just such a huge part of his life. Your parents are role models so when you see someone that you love and they're just...enthralled by something, you can't help getting drawn in. There wasn't anyway I couldn't have been involved in something creative.

Charli's Mum Christine and older Sister, Heather
It wasn't just my Dad. My Mum is not an 'Artist' in the technical sense of the word, but she is very creative, she's very musical and an amazing poet; she writes a lot. My whole family is creative. My sister was also very musical as well, so I guess my whole environment was conducive to me coming out with something in my own voice. I dabbled in various things, tried my hand at music and all the rest of it; but the underlying thing was that I wanted to create something visual. So although I can't really remember a specific piece, I do remember my Dad loving and introducing me to, a lot of the classic Artists. He loves a lot of Renaissance Art, as well as Romantic Artists like Constable, Turner...a lot of  the works that he was into was quite dramatic and emotional. So I guess that influenced my work as well. And also kind of quirky things as well. We have quite an eclectic taste in this family!

'Looking South from Near Red Brow Towards Rosthawaite',

'Light and Colour', 'Shade and Darkness'


2. I'm Sorry...You "dabbled in music"? When did that happen and in what context?

(Laughs) I shouldn't have said's because it's YOU I'm being interviewed by! I could at one point, "Sing", but I never considered myself a 'Singer'; I wasn't confident. I wanted to make music, so I wrote, sang and worked with various Producers; this was when I was at University and I would drive to Brighton from Southampton with the Producer and we'd record in the studio. I did some dance tracks and a few little bits but I was never fully able to get across what I wanted, because I felt my voice wasn't strong enough to do it. And of course, having someone like Mariah Carey being my favourite female vocalist EVER, then just hearing my own voice, I was just like "Ugh, NO! I can't be Mariah, I'm not gonna bother!" I do love music and it is a huge part of my existence but yeah, that was my little music adventure! But we don't talk about it! 

Bobby (Male face of deer oh deer) and Charli-Anne
That was at the point when I met my best friend Bobby actually. He's this amazing vocalist. I'm more of a private person creatively, I find that being an artist, which I'm not, but I am(!) doing my creative stuff with deer oh deer, the graphic stuff with Jelli, and also my own personal stuff that no-one ever sees...I'm not performing for anybody - that's totally coming from inside me. I put out what I feel is good enough for other people to see.

3. So talking of Family, Friends and Stuff...I think it would be fair to say that everyone that you work with, you have strong personal ties to. Do you feel that adds to your creativity and inspiration in anyway? How does that affect you professionally?

(l-r top) Lottey (female face of deer oh deer / Design Assistant), Mike (Operations Director), Charli-Anne
(l-r, bottom) Toby (Sales), Andrew (Mr. Shirley!), Yours Truly (Marketing/PR Manager)
Yeah, it does inspire me. Whenever I've worked in any job, done anything creative or put something out there, I've always needed to feel like I'm part of a family or a team. I can work on my own, and I need that space to work on my own; but definitely feeling like you're in it together with other people, and you're all "making you're own lanes" as Lek (Lekhem) would say...I need to feel like yes, we're making our own lanes, but we're all still in the same town! There's nothing worse than feeling completely alone when you're trying to do something and nobody else gets it, or can experience it with you; sharing those highs and the lows. It's amazing to have a support network when you're feeling a bit down but also, to celebrate  with you when things happen! 

Peter Andre in his custom 'Cookie Monster Hunter Hood
We had the recent deer oh deer moment with Peter Andre wearing the hood. It was just so brilliant to be able to share that and have that little "whoop" moment, where the whole team knows how much work everyone's put in along the journey, to get that far. All these little moments that we're having together, we're all going to remember them. I want to have those moments, because I want to be able to look back in 10 years time and be able to call you, or Lottey or Bobby and say this is what we were doing back then; do you remember that?

In other ways it's difficult because there's pressure. Sometimes you just want to walk away from everything completely just and say; "You know what? For a week I'm not doing anything!" But you  know you can't, you've got other people relying on you, and it's not easy to walk away from that. But I think I would far rather have that support and that feeling of knowing there's always going to be someone there I can talk to about what's going on, and share with. It far outweighs the need for being able to cut myself off, so yeah, you all definitely help me!

4. Can you tell me how the 'Glamslamorous' nickname came about?

Oh. Well! That is just the ultimate combination! 'Glamslamorous' is my Alter Ego..thing...person...creature! When I'm not slogging away at my laptop working, making deer oh deer stuff...when I go out and have a good time and like to get Glammed Up! But  basically the whole Glamslamorous thing came from a combination of two people. Two musicians who have influenced,  and helped me through a lot of the crap that I've been through, but also astounded me with the things that they've achieved. That's Mariah Carey obviously and Prince. Mariah's whole 'Glam' appearance...there's something about her that she always has an aura that I love. 
Do I even NEED to label this?
A lot of people hate on her for whatever reason they want to, but I see beyond any of that outward glamour, which is like her little character that she has. I kind of identify with that, having that need for playing a role or a character that people see, but there's a lot of depth to her as a woman. I can see that and I've always seen that. I've had the privilege of meeting her a few times now as a fan and she was just so beautiful, inside and out, and so down to Earth. There's this whole fan thing where she affectionately calls her fans 'Lambs'; from that we all named ourselves. I was 'Glam Lamb' because I was always into the lipstick, the sparkles and the rest of it. When I met her, she knew me as 'Glam' and said to me that my theme song should be 'The Glamorous Life' by Sheila E...

...Which of course is one of the BEST Songs EVER! I was absolutely stoked about that, so that IS my theme song and always will be - if Mariah gives you a theme song, you don't argue with her! Hence the name of the blog that I've just recently started - The Glamorous Life

The name is also a Prince thing. After the whole Glam Slam Club (The singer opened string of nightclubs under the name). I can't even deal with Prince, he's just incredible. He visually, is a GENIUS as well as musically. The image he created for himself; he broke so many boundaries with style, I mean you can't even put him in a particular genre, because he's pretty much covered everything in his career. He's an icon, everybody knows Prince. He's just inspiring, an amazing musician.

5. Most people will look at the Artists you've named and not understand why they're influential. What is the message that you hope people will take from you, they way that you have from them?

People like that you just think, at one point in their lives they were ordinary people going about their day with a dream - look where they are now? I think it's important for anyone who has a passion and a dream to think about them and realise that it can happen, you just have to work, and you have to work hard. They did and look where it got them. Those two out of any artists you can pick out there, are the hardest workers I've ever seen, with probably the least recognition. They're not complacent at all, they just keep going and that's inspiring for anyone who has a dream they want to fulfil - including me.

6. You know we can't not talk about the tattoos! Where did the inspirations first start?

Andrew's Transformers tattoo
I didn't know what was out there until I met my husband. He is literally like a walking canvas so of course there's immediate conversation. I'll never forget the first time I met him! We were in a pub and the first thing he did, I mean we were just sitting there talking and he just put his foot on the table in this pub (laughs) and showed me his leg tattoo, which was this Transformers piece that he's got which is amazing, it's still one of my favourite pieces. But I just remember thinking, this guy is firstly insane, but just adorable because he's like this little ball of colour! And he's sitting there with his leg on the table and I just thought it was AMAZING! This guy is covered in all this stuff and he's not having tattoos because he's trying to be cool, but because he genuinely likes it! So of course, being creative and someone who's inspired by Art, I was really intrigued by the world of tattoos. It did happen later for me than for a lot of people. We talked about them, he used to buy certain magazines and we'd look through them and be drawn to all of these people walking around with these amazing pieces of artwork on their bodies...

Mr & Mrs Shirley
Andrew just opened the door to this amazing world of Art that I'd never had firsthand experience of in a positive way. I was brought up in a traditional Catholic family. Although we're quite Bohemian - we're not stiff upper lip, British, boring stereotypes, but we do have a traditional influence, I guess. So that kind of art I wasn't exposed to it in that same way until I met Andrew. His family are very different to mine. His parents have tattoos, his sister has tattoos and  I absolutely LOVED it. I remember my first one completely wasn't planned; I went with Andrew to get the skull on his shoulders and  this amazing  tattoo artist, Aaron said: "oh I might have a gap of an hour when I've finished Andrew, do you want a tattoo done?" At first I was like, "...What?" Then the adrenaline rush of "Yeah, I want it! But I don't know what I want!" kicked in. Aaron said "I think we should do something on your foot". I said ok! Andrew was looking at me like "what the hell are you doing?! Don't get it on your foot! It's really painful". I decided no, and I really liked it!

Because I hadn't planned what I was going to get, it had to be a Butterfly, obviously because of Mariah, again! The song Butterfly is my favourite, I love the lyrics, the whole idea of what it represents, in the song and my life as well; it just means so much to me. Aaron does Japanese styles in particular, and so the influence is there with the Cherry Blossoms around it...For me it was just perfect. I could go on and on about tattooing; you need a whole separate interview just about that...

7.  So since you've taken us there, let's keep going on the route. The Japanese Kawaii-style, where did that come from?

Ohhh...see I'm good at this whole segue-thing, aren't I? (Laughs) Well I don't think you can't mistake - I like things that are cute! I like things that are pink, I like things that are sparkly, I like things with bows on...(she's not kidding, have you seen our AW10 Bow'n'Chain collection? ES)

Think Pink - Charli-Anne paid homage
to our fave Female with one of her
earliest collections

AW10 BowTie Chain
Candy Bling
(Inspired by the 2009 Mariah Carey track)

Female face of deer oh deer Lottey,
modelling 2011's 'Lolita' inspired range
AW10 Charm Necklace

AW10 DIDI Necklace

Catch our GORGEOUS Design Assistant, Lottey and the rest
of the dod team at HYPER JAPAN SPRING 2012, 24-26 Feb

My Melody
Little Twin Stars
I grew up in the era of Sanrio, when it was the biggest thing ever. I remember Hello Kitty at it's birth point really. My Melody is still my favourite Sanrio character. I remember the Little Twin Stars, all my pencil cases were the Sanrio characters - I just loved the style of the Art and everything about it. I remember my best friend at Primary School for probably about 2/3 years was a Japanese girl. She used to draw characters from the cartoons she watched and I remember looking at them and thinking, that I just loved the way she drew them. The whole style of it just really appealed to me from a young age, I've ALWAYS been in love with it. That only grows when you look more into it. When you get into tattoos as well; that whole geek sub-culture really, is a world that I love; you can't fail to be influenced and inspired by it. 

'The Gay 90s' ,
Mark Ryden
Ryden was the GENIUS behind
Michael Jackson's most daring album
There's something about that imagery with the big eyes; you see it in the deer oh deer characters and that kind of doe-like quality in a sense. They're not necessarily Japanese but you see that kind of style in the works of Artists like, Mark Ryden, who's one of my favourite Artists. He does all this crazy work but he's an absolutely brilliant Painter. All of his work has a concept, a dark side, and I love that. I love things that appear to be cute, but when you look at them closely, it's actually something different., especially Art.

Hansel & Gretel, 
Junko Mizuno
The Life of Momongo,

Junko Mizuno
There's also Junko Mizuno; she does comic strips and comic books. She's done a couple of graphic novels. She's done things like the Hansel and Gretel story, but she's made it quite twisted; there's all this weird stuff going on but it's just so beautifully done! She's got these really cute, weird, beautiful drawings and the characters are really evil! She's got this female character that is sexy, and she's got  beautiful clothes and she's girly and got long hair; she's what every little girl wants to be, but then when you look underneath that, there's a lot more to's a little bit warped! And I think that's why with certain things that I do, more with deer oh deer - I can't so much with Jelli because I'm working for clients - but with my own stuff, I can put that little twist on it.

I'm so absorbed in the culture that I created my own character who, kind of came out to play for a little while, maybe about a year and a half, two years ago. She's having a little break right now and hopefully will return at some point, I don't know when! She is called 'Chicchai' which means 'Tiny'.

'Chicchai' means 'Tiny', which at an even 5 Feet,
fits our Char to a T!

She's like a little woman and when I look at her, I think of myself when I was a child. She's got the little fringe and the brown hair; she's girly, but she's also a little bit brave. She's got a little funny friend called Blue. Blue is a little Rabbit kind of character who doesn't speak very much! I've created some other characters who are her friends...She actually has her own facebook page, but I'm not really doing much with her at the moment because I'm so focused on deer oh deer and Jelli. Chicchai will appear again at some point. My friend Paul actually made me a 3D rendering until then!

7. Has there been anything you tried to design or anything you tried to turn your hand to that just, didn't work? 

(Laughs) Now that's funny! I've always struggled with the confidence in my drawing. I've become far too reliant on my computer so I'm not as good at that as I could be. Everything I know how to do graphically is self-taught, I'm not professionally trained. I did a lot of Web training! I'm quite lucky that I can pick things up quite quickly on that front, but with drawing it's not that easy. The greatest Artists to me, are the ones who make the most confident lines on the paper. You can tell a confident line and you can tell one that says "eh...I'm trying". That to me is the difference between something incredible and something mediocre.  And I never wanted to be mediocre with drawing or painting. So I kind of gave up on it a bit because I wasn't that good (expletive from Andrew in the background that can't be printed, but matched what I said-ES)! So I guess I would love to work more on that. Recently Andrew bought me these amazing 'How to draw Anime' books which are just brilliant, and I love all the illustrations. SO I thought, right; I'm going to sit down and teach myself. But I ended up being so picky with it and crap that I gave up because it was too hard and I couldn't be bothered! I've had to scrap that and say to myself: "Look. You're not good because you haven't practiced. You've got to practice". Anything creative that I can do is going to help me in my work, so I have to push myself to do things that I'm not confident with and may never be very good at, but will help me in the long run.

8. Of all the pieces that you've designed, and this goes back to the first time you ever picked up a pen, pencil or paintbrush - what's been your favourite design?

Oh my GOODNESS! I think the problem is, when you're caught up in something, it becomes your favourite thing! I'm working with Lottey on the Spring Summer collection and I'm totally obsessing over that right now. Maybe the jewellery for the last collection? I was really really pleased with that. 

in custom Heritage Collection pieces
ILUVLIVE, November 2011
I do love the Halcyon earrings. I love bold, structural things. I've always loved big earrings. If I go into a shop, I go straight to them and luckily, the whole Pat Butcher thing has been very big this season! This is how evil my friends are to me - years ago, I had this gorgeous coat. It had a big, beautiful camel-coloured collar, and I wore it with big earrings. Well my best friend Bobby, who clearly loves me dearly, decided to say: "You look like Pat Butcher in those". So I think that I've subconsciously been getting my revenge by designing all of these big earrings ever since...WE LOVE PAT! She's gonna be SORELY MISSED! But not really, because I AM the real Pat Butcher!

Halcyon Earrings, so named in honour of Marian Lindkvist,
Charli-Anne's Grandmother
Actually, talking about people in my life who have influenced me enormously; I have a special connection to the Halcyon earrings. 'Halcyon' was  the name of a Norwegian vessel that docked in the Lindkvist ports of Liverpool - Lindkvist was my Grandfather's surname. The design is a tribute to my Grandmother.

Bring White Beads When You Call on the Healer,
Marian Lindkvist
I know it's slightly off topic, but I want people to go and read her book so they can understand why I am the way I am! My Granny had a dream that she was surrounded by people in a mental hospital. They had been written off and dumped there, deemed not worth investing in because they couldn't function in 'normal' society. Supposedly none of the patients were capable of movement, yet somehow they were all moving their bodies to music. She wanted to change that in reality and improve their quality of life; that dream inspired that. She set up an organisation called the Sesame Institute. They managed to get certain hospitals to agree for her group to go in and do these movement sessions with some of these patients; people who had sat there for 10 years not able to do anything. Their family members talked about them never doing the simple things the rest of us take for granted, like lifting their arms. With the help of the therapy that she came up with called 'Movement with Touch', the Sesame Institute have literally been able to change lives all over the world...and that came from the dream of a regular mum with an autistic daughter.

9. Is that why Charity resonates so deeply with you? I know from working with you and just your nature as a person, giving is something that's a big part of your nature:

When you've had someone like my Granny in your family, you can't fail to want to try to do something even slightly comparing to that. At some point I want to do some more work for Charity. I've had that in my life, My work as a Fundraising Manager came from that desire to do something. Yes I do believe it's great to go out there and create a famous brand or whatever, but there's always a higher purpose, always something more important that, if I'm successful in what I do, then I will have to use that in a wise way. I believe that we can do that with deer oh deer so Watch This Space when it comes to that area.

10. Ok, so us being the way that we are, of course I have to end with a quirk. Why a deer?

Why a deer? Why a deer indeed! (laughs) Because I love them! I love the shape of the head, especially in that Kawaii style, it just lent itself to the character really well; with their enormous head, little body, and doe eyes. I love all animals, but I love the doe and the stag. To me, stags are just incredible creatures, they're the ultimate handsome couple! So I guess...a deer because they're random! AND we have them in Britain which also lends to our Brit-Vintage core!

I cannot tell you how PROUD I am of this Lady. This has been one of my favourite interviews for several reasons, but mainly because my intention was to bring one of the greatest talents I know to the forefront. I hope you got a glimpse! She is the hardest-working, most patient and empathetic woman I know. Although you could feasibly say our CharStar is the quietest of the ESP Family, take it from me when I tell you, that Charli-Anne is the backbone of our whole mad pack!

Please take a moment to check out just a few of her amazing works:

twitter / facebook

And keep an eye out for everything we have coming up! deer oh deer will be at HYPER JAPAN SPRING 2012, from 24-26 February...

And expect the SpringSummer12 collection, 'Carnivale' shortly after. I've already seen some of the designs and I can tell you, my jewellery box and I are VERY excited!