Charlotte Argyrou...Botanical Illustrator
When did you start in this business and what did you do before?
Before launching my botanical illustration business, I had a 12 year career in fashion PR. I worked with some of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses and innovative designers on their celebrity dressing, store launches, editorial shoots and London, NYC, Paris and Milan shows
My first boss was high street retail guru Mary Portas before I moved to the Fashion Division of a multi-discipline brand strategy agency
While I loved that fast-paced career and working with so many brilliantly creative colleagues – a plot twist offered my husband and I the opportunity to go and live in Greece. We packed our bags and bought a one-way ticket to the sun
Back in London and two babies later, I rediscovered drawing after a 15 year break from my pencils
It became a business quite unintentionally. I shared a few illustrations on Instagram and received orders via Direct Messages (which blew me away). I created a logo and printed some basic stationery to send alongside each artwork. After three months, I launched a simple e-commerce website
How would you describe your style or are you influenced by the client’s desire/theme?
My illustration style is influenced by vintage botanical drawings, but is not scientifically accurate. I play with colour and texture more than is strictly qualified as true botanical illustration
Many of my clients have never commissioned artwork before, so are happy to be led by me with regards to composition and the best way to transform a bouquet from 3D to paper. But having said that, all my newlyweds have a strong sense of style and often work within the creative industries
They are all heavily involved in the aesthetics of their weddings, and know what they like. Often, we share the same inspirations, so working with my customers is almost always like working with an old friend
Where do you get inspiration for your designs and is there a current trend?
My clients are drawn to asymmetric, wildly luxurious bouquets. They love specimen blooms, and demand great things from their florists. Gravity-defying installations, Edwardian floor-sweeping bouquets, innovative colour palettes… nothing is off the table for my brides
In my experience, the brides who book me themselves are very aware of bridal trends, but very content to lead from the heart and inject their own flair into their wedding aesthetics
What is your favourite flower?
When it comes to drawing flowers, I do a happy dance when a really complex bouquet lands into my inbox
Give me textured dahlias, ranunculi and hydrangeas. In my home though, I’m happy with foraged foliage and I’m drawn to ferns, eucalyptus and olive sprigs
There’s a lilac in my garden that heavenly in bloom (aren't they so gorgeous, its a shame their flowering period is so short! Liz)
What sort of information do you need to know when meeting with a prospective client for the first time?
I rarely meet my clients. Because I work from photography, my clients may be from the US or Australia and everywhere in between. My clients either find me through referral from their florists or on Instagram, so by the time the they book me through my website, they already know about my maximalist taste, vintage eye and soulful approach to slow and creative living. We bond virtually
What sort of lead time do you need when taking on a project?
To be on the safe side, I say I will deliver any illustration within one month of receiving photography. But if a client is urgent to rush a commission through – say, for a one year “paper” wedding anniversary gift – I can always come up with the goods (what a brilliant idea for a first anniversary present! Liz)
I presume you can supply more than one wedding package per weekend but is there a limit on your time across a year/season?
Because I offer a gifting service, I’m booked all year around. Between birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries, or newlyweds redeeming gift vouchers, I haven’t established a busy/quiet season as yet
When I create gifts on behalf of wedding industry suppliers, that work is generally April-October
Do you have fixed prices for your work or is each package tailored to the client?
My Wedding Bouquet Illustration Service is £290 (that is amazing for such a personalised keepsake, Liz) I find my customers actually appreciate the simplicity of one fixed price, and they know what they are getting. It’s less intimidating than commissioning an artwork from scratch. For other commissions, such as a bird or a bouquet inspired by a gift recipient’s garden, the price may vary
I’ve also helped my clients source vintage frames and created artwork to fit precisely, which works on an additional hourly rate for my time
What is the most fun part of your job?
Without doubt it’s when I hear my clients’ responses to seeing their illustration for the first time. I imagine it’s the same as when a florist delivers the bride her bouquet on the Big Day. Some favourites include “possibly the best gift I’ve ever received”, “I need picking up off the floor”, “it’s made me cry I love it so much” and “I’m actually speechless”
What is the most important part of your job?
The most important part is that I help newlyweds create a legacy through their florals. My clients can’t bear to think that their wedding is over and the flowers are gone
As one of my bouquet illustration recipients said, “it is humbling to think your illustration will carry my story through generations”
What makes you laugh?
In my work, my awesome network of fabulous wedding industry suppliers. Many of us work alone most of the time, and it’s so cheering to receive a message of morale support or a naughty meme. My daughters are a constant source of amusement. My six year old once critiqued my work, “Mummy, if you add more flowers it will be more fabulous.” She was right
The kids always speak the truth! Charlotte's work is truly unique and so special, so for a keepsake from your wedding, an anniversary present or just as a beautiful image, I can think of little better
Charlotte was kind enough to use her talents to replicate one of my bouquets... Anna's from her Holywell Hall wedding last summer, what do you think?