Charlie Mylie (charliemylie.com) started drawing notes for friends when he was a student at the Kansas City Art Institute. Years later, he’s forged a career in children’s book illustration and a reputation for personalized, on-the-spot drawings under the sporadic pseudonym Pop Up Charlie — whose sign exclaims, “Yes It’s True, Pop Up Charlie Can Draw Anything For You!”
“I realized that I could connect to other people through drawing in a way that I wasn’t necessarily with an installation,” Mylie says. “I really like these opportunities to be playful. Sometimes showing up in unexpected places helps keep that spirit alive, whereas if it’s truly regular, then people start having different expectations.”
The illustrator moved back to Kansas City to be with his family and cultivate work in the community after embarking on a 26-state tour. His first book, Something For You, was inspired by his homesickness for his now-wife while on the road. Now, Mylie splits his time between illustrating for The Rabbit Hole (a children’s book nonprofit), working on picture books and taking the odd Pop Up Charlie gig.
“I meet people regularly, and they’re like, ‘Oh, I have a Pop Up Charlie drawing in my kid’s room or up in our house,’ reminding me that even these small drawings can be really meaningful for people,” Mylie says.
*Find Pop Up Charlie on Instagram (@charliemylie)