A poet with a camera, West Palm Beach artist Susan Currie launches her 2022 Charmcodes collection.
Artist Susan Currie with her Charmcodes collection in West Palm Beach
How did you come up with the concept for Charmcodes?
I’m constantly struck by the perpetual palette of color blooming brightly here in the Palm Beach area. Every season, ever new, a rich spectrum of hues make a splash in nature, and then rather seamlessly spill into every corner of the island’s culture from the cherry-striped chaises to the coral scalloped walls that trim up the beach’s edge. Thanks to this, my camera’s memory card is populated by this rainbow of native color blinking back at me. Living along the ocean, I’m equally charmed by things nautical—particularly those alphabet flags waving high in the wind over the surf’s turquoise chop. Something about the simplicity in that alphabet’s visual interpretation has long captured my imagination. Only a few colors can be distinguished out on the ocean, which is why the traditional signal flags adhere to primary reds and blues and such. But on land, why not another take, I wondered? So, coupling my curiosities, I crafted a signature color library from my vault of local photographs. Next up, I infused these iconic shades into the geometry of the nautical alphabet flags, punched them up Palm Beach style, and then brought each newly designed letter to life as fine art acrylic photo blocks.
Tell me about your 2022 collection and what makes it special.
The brand-new 2022 alphabet collection arrived very organically. The 2021 collection continues to be warmly embraced, but a few months back, I felt new interpretations flowing through me—a broader color palette and some new swerves with the letters. So, I spent months diving deeper into color and design and just waiting on the alphabet to emerge. What resulted is a look that I would describe as more coastal hip-meets-modern. They are still printed on the same beautiful 1-inch-thick acrylic material, with invisible hardware on the artworks’ backside. I just love the new alphabet’s pop!
How do you create Charmcodes, and what products do you use?
Each letter takes its shape or cue from the existing universal nautical code. I sit with those frameworks for a while and then in Photoshop place the color and study how I might twist up the letter’s geometry some. All of the color that I place in my designs is sourced from the photographs I take locally. I use my extensive collection of images to create my signature color libraries. When the designs are complete, they are then printed on fine art metallic paper. I searched far and wide to find a partner who could output the artwork on a superior 1-inch-thick acrylic with invisible install hardware.
What inspires you?
As many artists will confess, the switch is always on. There is wonder at every turn and even in the simplest of moments. I read and take in as much creative content as I can, and there is so much wisdom to absorb at every turn. I also spend a great deal of time out in nature and in silence. They are both essential to my creative practice. The local color here also plays a tremendous role in the art that I make and the ideas that I shape.
Who has helped you in your journey?
I am especially grateful to Keller Donovan at Keller Palm Beach for taking a chance on my artwork.
What’s on the horizon for you this year?
I am really looking forward to sharing the new 2022 alphabet and continuing to teach from my new book, Superflow. This season, at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, where I am an adjunct instructor, I will be offering Gather, a brand-new pop-up workshop designed as a creative reset for artists of all levels. In addition, I am looking forward to working with the Chase Edwards Gallery to bring my collection to Bridgehampton, N.Y., another beautiful coastal community.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSAN CURRIE