Charles finding beauty from all walks of life

A+photo+taken+from+one+of+Alexis+Charles%27s+Instagram+photoshoots.+%0A

Submitted Photo

A photo taken from one of Alexis Charles’s Instagram photoshoots.

TOWAMENCIN – While having switched between schools for the majority of her life, Alexis Charles has found that her passion for art and creation has remained a solid constant. Although having experienced hardships along the way, she continues to create work that not only inspires herself but also inspires everyone who comes across it. 

Growing up, Charles finds little to complain about and she constantly reflects fondly on her childhood. 

“I was a really happy kid. Honestly, I was me, still the same, just smaller,” joked Charles. “I was bold. I remember one time I told my mom ‘Yeah, you get your style from me. I wear nicer clothes than you’ like the audacity I had when she was the one dressing me.”

Whether in the classroom or climbing on the playground, Charles was anything but a shy kid. She made a point to get to know everyone she saw, even in the unique environment she was placed in growing up.

“It’s kind of crazy to me sometimes when I think back to it because I went to a school where I was supposed to learn how to speak French. I spent most of my time in Philadelphia. I wasn’t in this area very much even though it was where I lived,” said Charles. 

She spent 7 years in a school where 75% of the curriculum was in French and she was expected to learn how to speak fluently.

“Every day in the morning, I’d wake up, have to get to school on time, and I would have to go down to Lincoln Drive to go to Bryn Mawr to get to school every morning. After I would get picked up from school, I’d go to my dad’s office in Philly and I’d come home around 8:00-9:00 and go to sleep because I would have to do it all over again the next day,” said Charles. 

Unlike many children growing up in the area, Charles learned how to do the core subjects in school the way that they are taught to children in France.

“I learned how to do math in French and how to divide the French way. I learned European geography and I still have French copybooks in my room,” said Charles. “Every single show that we had to put on was both in French and English, so I know all of the Christmas songs and nursery rhymes in French and in English,” said Charles. 

Since having transferred from the school she grew up speaking French in, Charles still does her best to keep herself fluent in the language, most notably by watching French animes in her free time. 

“Most of the time when I feel like I’m losing it, I’ll go ahead and I’ll just watch Miraculous Ladybug with the French audio on Netflix to make sure I still have it,” said Charles. 

Once she hit the 5th grade, Charles was transferred to Gwynedd Mercy Academy Elementary, a private Catholic school. She found the transition was not as easy as she had hoped it to be. 

“Well, I can undeniably say it definitely left a mark on me. It was a trying experience because I came from a school that was multicultural with so many different people. There were French people, Indian people, black people, and I had the freedom to wear whatever I wanted. I was at that school for 7 years and I grew up with those people since preschool. I had to transition to that other environment, which I wasn’t very used to, and it was very ‘do this, do that’, very goal-oriented as well, I just wasn’t ready for that,” said Charles. 

I felt like a failure and I was comparing myself to everyone at every single moment, not even physically, but academically. I felt really insecure.”

— Alexis Charles

The competitive environment at Gwynedd showed itself to be a hard adjustment for Charles, who felt she was constantly comparing herself to other students. 

“I felt like a failure and I was comparing myself to everyone at every single moment, not even physically, but academically. I felt really insecure,” said Charles. 

She found herself having to adapt alone without the support of the administrators or even her teachers. 

“After a while, I think I just started to get it, I’m not quite sure what happened. I think I just adapted, which took me a while just because I had to do it on my own,” said Charles.

In the environment that she had been placed to find them in, discovering her artistic capabilities at this time also presented itself as a challenge for Charles. 

“It was just a different environment at Gwynedd and as a creative person that doesn’t really mesh well, especially when you don’t even know your creative person yet,” said Charles. “I transferred in 5th grade, so I didn’t really know much about myself and I wasn’t even able to make friends at the time.”

Honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. When I think about it, I wouldn’t have grown this backbone, I wouldn’t have the personality that I have, and I wouldn’t have made the friends that I did if I didn’t go through that.”

— Alexis Charles

Although the 4 years she spent at Gwynedd were not her happiest, Charles reflected that she would not change her experience if given the chance.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. When I think about it, I wouldn’t have grown this backbone, I wouldn’t have the personality that I have, and I wouldn’t have made the friends that I did if I didn’t go through that,” said Charles. 

Instead of continuing her education at a private Catholic high school, Charles decided to take a leap and transfer into Pennbrook Middle School for her freshman year. 

“One thing that Gwynedd taught me was ambition and just to wish for bigger, better things in your life than what you have now,” said Charles. 

Transferring to public school gave Charles the opportunity to get out of her previous confinement and finally explore all of the possibilities. 

“At Gwynedd, I couldn’t wear what I wanted to wear, I couldn’t do what I wanted to do, I couldn’t wear makeup, I couldn’t do anything, so when I first got into public school it was crazy. It was like I had an outfit planned for every single day, I was going to wear my makeup, I was going to wear whatever I thought looked pretty, I really didn’t care. I was going to wear a blazer to school if that’s what I wanted to do and who’s going to stop me? No one is going to stop me,” said Charles. 

Public school became a way for Charles to express herself and the creativity she fostered, which had been filtered in the past. Alongside her newfound fashion sense and her love for makeup, Charles continued to grow as an artist. Whether it was just with pencil and paper or colored paints and brushes, she expanded her horizons and pushed herself to create something meaningful. She finds her inspiration through music, specifically through singer-songwriter, Frank Ocean. 

“I love Frank Ocean and not only because I want to marry him,” joked Charles. “I just really enjoy his music and to me, his music is pure artform. When I hear Frank Ocean, I see beautiful pictures in my head.”

Charles tends to listen to Frank Ocean when creating her own art and draws inspiration from the thought he puts into his work. 

“When I listen to Frank, it’s just beautiful and it inspires me to make something beautiful,” said Charles. 

Additionally, she finds self-expression in taking and editing pictures for her Instagram account. Going out and taking photos of disposed items on the street might seem like trash to others but become visions for Charles.

“It’s a low maintenance creative outlet for me. I’m really into editing and just making things look nice. I am a person who is just obsessed with pretty things,” said Charles. 

Don’t compare yourself to other artists. You’re you. You’re at your own learning curve. You can look at them for inspiration, but don’t look at them to demean yourself. You are going to get there eventually.”

— Alexis Charles

Charles believes that once people looking to explore art, makeup, and fashion for the first time find their own sense of individuality and confidence, they can improve and grow quickly. 

“Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re a beginner. Don’t compare yourself to other artists. You’re you. You’re at your own learning curve. You can look at them for inspiration, but don’t look at them to demean yourself. You are going to get there eventually,” said Charles.