Beautiful Books: Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers

Described as “a promise to the community that all Black lives matter,” comes award-winning playwright Makambe K Simamba’s newest work Our Fathers, Son, Lovers and Little Brothers (Playwrights Canada Press). We chat with illustrator Chelsea Charles, responsible for the play’s captivating book cover design,  for more on what contributes to her unique style.


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All Lit Up: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! We love your illustrations – they’re striking. How would you describe your style?Chelsea Charles: Thanks so much for the kind words! I would describe my style as intimate, saturated, symbolic. ALU: How do you approach a new design? Where do you start? CC: When starting a new illustration, if I’m working from a story, I pull key words that stand out to me and spark inspiration or a visual in my head. ALU: What do you love about illustration?CC: I love the challenge of being able to capsulize a story, event or emotion in a single image. ALU: Can you tell us a little about designing the cover of Makambe K Simamba’s Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brothers, a YA play that’s been described as “a promise to the community that all Black lives matter.” What inspired your design choices for the cover?CC: Our Fathers, Sons, Lovers and Little Brother is a powerful book and I needed the cover to illustrate that. I felt the use of dark, moody, colours in contrast to the white stars, and light purple clouds and tones, depicts the unknown, void afterlife that Slimm (the figure in the middle of the cover) finds himself in. ALU: Are there any designers or visual artists you’re loving at the moment? CC: My favourite artists at the moment are: Alleanna Harris, Gyimah Gariba, and Christy Lundy! Please go check out their amazing work! 

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Chelsea Charles
 is an illustrator who resides in Brampton, Ontario, and has received her BAA in Illustration at Sheridan College. She creates her illustrations through a combination of digital and traditional mediums. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, being a nuisance to her cat Charcoal, and daydreams about travelling to Japan.