I was born and raised in beautiful Salmon Arm, B.C. Growing up I was always doing something creative; taking art lessons, doodling on my binders, engraving designs onto my brother’s things, writing and illustrating my own stories… the list goes on and on! In my first year of high school I enrolled in “insert course here”, and I have to say, that is where my love for the digital arts began.
I was introduced to the world of digital media in high school and instantly fell in love with it. I was designing my own playing cards, coloring books, and even t-shirts. By my last year in high school, I was the go-to student appointed by my teacher for designing posters to put up around the school. I was always encouraged by my teachers to pursue a career in the digital art realm, but I never thought it would be possible for me. So I continued to work at a hotel that I was employed at throughout my time at high school and even started looking into hospitality management as a possible career path.
When I graduated high school I started my own side hustle selling stickers. Thus, Charlise’s Pieces was born! I was expecting to just sell my stickers, but I had a surprising amount of people asking for commission work; so I went along with it and was able to get a taste of the freelance graphic design life. I started to realize that people were genuinely interested in the limited skills that I had and they were happy with the work I was producing.
In 2020 I was working 2 jobs alongside the odd job for commission work when Covid-19 started, and I wasn’t able to work for four months. During that time of restricted socialization, I had plenty of time to reflect on my life and ponder my future. I was laying in bed one day when my mom sent me a link to a contest that was being held by Prince George Metis Community Association (PGMCA). It was a design contest for Metis artists and designers to design a new logo for PGMCA and the final 3 would receive a reward for their submissions.
I decided to give it a try even though I had never designed a logo for anyone before. After all, I had to do something with all that free time I had. I submitted my work just for the heck of it, now knowing it would change my life forever.
During the time that I spent pondering my future, I happened to come across an ad for a Graphic Design program. It piqued my interest of course… but applying and figuring out how I would get the funds to attend college seemed out of my reach so I didn’t consider it any further. Fast forward to submitting my logo design for the PGMCA contest; I was left thinking “wait, what do I do if I actually win it”. I decided to make a pact with myself that If I were to get first place in the contest, I would apply for the program at college. I didn’t feel confident or good enough to have a career in the creative industry, but I felt that if I won, it would be the assurance that I needed to take the first step.
Luckily, I got first place! I applied for college, got accepted, and lined everything up so that I could attend the Graphic and Web Design program Centre for Arts and Technology. I moved to the Okanagan to start my new journey and it was the best decision of my life so far. I studied for 15 months straight and soaked up as much knowledge as I could.