Look Up artist Charlie Patterson is fulfilling a dream and, in the process, he's fast becoming the crown prince of colourful, geometric mural painting.

Charlie and I had a chat in his car last summer, during which he expressed a desire to dedicate more time to painting large scale murals. He's been living the dream this year, adding to a vibrant repertoire of prints and paintings by creating interior murals for The Conran Shop (in London and Paris), Hambro Perks, and Publicis. A collaboration with Wood Street Walls is on the cards, so we thought it was high time we had a chat about his murals. It all started a few years back, with a commission for ad agency BBH...

Charlie's mural at The Pay Gallery, BBH, London

Look Up Before we talk about your recent projects, remind me how you got into murals? Any specific inspiration, or is it just a case of working with a large 'canvas'?

Charlie Patterson
I've always wanted to work on walls. When I first realised I wanted to draw and develop a style I was looking up to a lot of graffiti artists, but there wasn’t much of a graffiti scene where I grew up… I did my first wall art on my foundation course – using insulation tape to form the outlines of impossible shapes – but my first proper mural was for The Pay Gallery at BBH. I think the desire to do murals is for the effect you get when you stand in front of something massive...

LU And it fills your field of vision?

CP Yes, taking something in that's bigger than yourself has such a huge impact. You can really transform a space with a bit of colour on a wall.

Charlie working on his mural at The Conran Shop, Marylebone, London

LU The Pay Gallery/BBH mural helped kickstart a series of installations by other leading graphic artists and subsequently, 'She Lights Up The Night' – an exhibition and charity auction for Refuge, set up by They Made This and BBH. How did that come about?

 CP They Made This and The Pay Gallery all started when Caroline Pay was working as Deputy ECD (Executive Creative Director) at BBH and Aine Donovan was the Production Director. They had the idea to use Caroline's office as an exhibition space and auction the pieces off. Refuge was one of BBH's clients and Aine was just starting They Made This, so it all combined to become what it is now. I met Caroline whilst I was studying and she kindly invited me to be the first artist to paint a mural in her office. 

Charlie's LDF mural for The Conran Shop at Selfridges, London

LU Before you start a mural, do you have a fixed design and colour palette in mind, responding to a brief or space? Or is there room for improvisation when you get on site?

CP It really depends on whose wall it is. I usually come up with a few sketches and different colour palettes and pitch my favourites to the client. Then, more often than not it becomes a collaboration in choosing the right colours for the space. Sometimes the design changes slightly when I'm painting it, but I'm not quite at the stage for complete improvisation yet. 

Working on the Selfridges mural, September 2016

LU You recently created murals for The Conran Shop in London and Paris, following last year's London Design Festival mural at Selfridges. How did that come about? 

It all came from Instagram. Sophie Pickup was working at The Conran Shop at the time and she put me forward for the London Design Festival commission at Selfridges. That lead to Marylebone and Paris. Instagram plays a fundamental role in getting my work out there and attracting new clients. 

Detail of The Conran Shop mural, Marylebone, London

LU When they commissioned the recent murals, did they have a clear idea of what they wanted from you, or did you have carte blanche?

CP Everyone involved with the Conran commissions has been super open to what I do. The main collaboration has been with the colour palette. They use a lot of the bright colours from Bristol Paint – especially the blue – so they were keen to use that, and we had ideas of how we wanted the designs to play with the different spaces, but really it was very open.

Detail of The Conran Shop mural, Marylebone, London

LU You recently created some murals for interior design duo Bear René. Can you tell us about the project and the Benjamin Moore paints you used?

CP They approached me through Instagram as well, having seen The Conran Shop work. They got in touch about a new property they were fitting out for Hambro Perks (an advisory and investments firm) in Victoria. They had a massive two–storey wall and several others they wanted me to paint, and we also did a CNC routed screen (computer–aided routing). The Benjamin Moore paints were sourced through Bear René as the colour palette was set for the whole space, but they were fantastic – we only needed two coats. 

Working on one of the Hambro Perks murals

LU You work on most of your murals with friend and fellow creative Jonny Holmes (together they are Studio Opposite). That must make it easier to tackle larger walls, as well as keeping moral high when the masking tape misbehaves…

CP Jonny's a good crack and really instrumental to the whole process; more often that not he'll do more of the painting than me. He's tall which is very useful, and he has a great eye for colour. He's also a good laugh but doesn't talk too much and he's totally on it with his Maths – which helps when we're trying to get every shape the exact size, and building new gadgets to make large circles. 

Mural at Publicis, London

LU We've been discussing interior work, but what about exterior murals? I'm guessing that's something you'd like to do more of in the not too distant future…

CP I have an exterior of a school on the cards which I'm looking forward to doing, but yes – I'd love to do more. The bigger the wall the better. 


LU When you remove a long strip of masking tape… How satisfying is that!?

CP Ha ha, yes, people seem to love seeing the tape getting peeled off. When you get a nice, crisp line it is very satisfying; not so much if the paint bleeds underneath the tape.

Work in progress at The Conran Shop, Paris

LU Earlier this year you left a full–time job at Studio Moross to develop and grow your own creative practice. Have you been working on any personal projects?

CP Alongside the large scale murals, I've mainly been working in the studio on a new body of paintings. The plan is to do my first solo show within the next year, so I'm just making as much new work as I can. 

Panoramic of The Conran Shop mural in Marylebone, London

LU What can we expect to see from Charlie Patterson in the next 3 or 4 months? 

CP The biggest thing coming up is my wedding in August, so that's very exciting. Work wise, I am playing with a lot of new materials so hopefully a progression in my personal paintings into the more 3D relief realm. What's been really nice since leaving my job is the little amount of time I now spend on a computer. I've found it's really helped my eyesight, so on one note I'm looking forward to getting my eyes back to the real world. But the main thing I'm learning at the moment is colour theory; I'm painting a lot more and really using colour.

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The fact that Charlie's painting more, exploring the potential of colour and creating a whole new body of work is great news. You can check out his new paintings on Instagram and as for the solo show, we'll keep you posted... 

Charlie Oscar Patterson collection on Look Up