She helps us say what we mean with her vibrant compositions. We interviewed Charlotte about her work and relationship with feminism. Here’s what she had to say:

How would you describe your creative practice?

I’m an idea generator! I’m interested in making sensitive and conceptual images and designs, which leads me to work on projects as a film director, art director, designer, painter, set designer.

How do you train your creative muscle?

My workshop is filled with leftover paint and materials from set-design gigs, and I love spending time making things and color palettes, murals, illustrations. My last food-pun painting series was born during a time of unemployment due to a last-minute cancelation, so I hired myself to challenge my creativity. I keep a notepad with project ideas. COVID-19 quarantine might be the perfect time to start going through that list.

Charlotte Ratel

Photograph by Charlotte Ratel

Charlotte Ratel

Photograph by Charlotte Ratel

What does feminism mean to you?

Rebecca West said, “I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” Feminism is vouching for equal opportunities. Being able to ask and answer the question “Would this situation be any different if I were a man?” is a good start towards change and equality. It’s not just about rights anymore; it’s about changing stereotypes and values.

Is there a cause or political platform that you’re fired up about?

Female and diversity representation in the advertising industry is very important to me. I’m seeing more and more female creatives in leadership positions, and opportunities for female directors are much better than they once were. Womxn represent 85% of product consumerism, yet their interests are being communicated by (let’s be honest) mostly men! Including multiple genders and diversity in our images, videos, messages as proportionally as they truly exist in our society can only add credibility, and make our work human. So why not work together towards that?

Charlotte Ratel

Photograph by Charlotte Ratel

Charlotte Ratel

Photograph by Charlotte Ratel

Can you share any stories from your creative career when being a womxn was a focus, for better or worse?

I’ve been asked to join teams on the basis of being a womxn. I’ve experienced sexism and have seen coworkers experience it too. I’ve been told that I couldn’t do a job because I “wasn’t strong enough.” I’ve been asked in a job interview if I could take male criticism. The questions linked to gender often come up in my field of work.

Recently, I was part of a meeting of 13. I had just joined the team of 10 men and two other womxn. People were talking loudly over one another and interrupting each other, yet when the womxn creative director found some space in the conversation to speak, she whispered. Everyone listened because there was no other way of hearing her point. Until they cut her off again.

Would she have said more if the men had let her speak? Did they realize that she had been waiting for them to stop speaking so she could speak? Was I the only one to notice this?

One of the womxn who walked out of that meeting with me qualified it as a “BDE” meeting. Embarrassed that I hadn’t made myself familiar with all the work terms yet, I timidly asked what it meant. “Big d!ck energy,” she said. It seemed the three womxn in that room had lived this event the same way.

Charlotte Ratel

Photograph by Charlotte Ratel

How have communities like Ladies Who Create impacted you?

Being a part of these communities has made it easier for me to deal with sexism. Getting together to share experiences has been the first step for me to try to change things, and inspired me to break toxic social patterns (whether they are conscious or not!).

I’ve been part of the Free The Work community for two years now. It's a nonprofit initiative advocating on behalf of womxn directors for equal opportunities in the global advertising industry. They’ve inspired me to help create our own Montreal Female Art Directors safe-space group.

What do you want to be doing in five years?

I love being part of the creative field and couldn’t imagine my life (now or in five years) without it. In five years, I want to be taking on more responsibilities, projects, and resources to make a difference in exceeding the limits of our own imaginations.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

Show your work!

What message do you have for womxn in the creative community?

Let’s get in touch and come together! Join Girlgaze; Free The Work; Ladies, Wine & Design; Ladies Who Create; Women Who Draw—and let’s start the conversation.

Charlotte Ratel

Photograph by Charlotte Ratel

"Tomatoes"

Charlotte helps us think beyond the screen to create robust imagery for online editorial. Whether it's painted glass or pink puffs of cotton, we hope you enjoyed reading her story and seeing her process. To learn about more creative womxn, request a personal copy of Feminist Propaganda, a new magazine by Ladies Who Create.

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