Our picks from Pick Me Up 2015

Graphic arts festival Pick Me Up opened at London’s Somerset House last night, with talks, workshops, screenings and exhibitions taking place until May 4. Here’s a look at some of our favourite work on show and what’s on over the next few days…

Graphic arts festival Pick Me Up opened at London’s Somerset House last night, with talks, workshops, screenings and exhibitions taking place until May 4. Here’s a look at some of our favourite work on show and what’s on over the next few days…

Each year, Pick Me Up showcases work from illustrators, creative collectives and galleries alongside a programme of graphic arts-related talks and workshops. The event also includes Pick Me Up’s annual Selects exhibition, which features work by new and emerging illustration talent chosen by a panel of judges (this year’s are Sara Andreasson; Hattie Newman; Jack Cunningham; Luke Evans; Gaurab Thakali; Jennifer Argo; Laura Jouan; Peter Judson; Rop van Mierlo; Thomas Lamadieu; Laura Callaghan and Zoë Taylor).

Each artist is asked to submit a series of prints, and this year’s show also places more emphasis on process – glass display cases house sketches, notebooks and draft copies of work, giving visitors more of an insight into each illustrator’s craft and working methods, such as this from paper artist Hattie Newman:


Sara Andreasson’s display (pictured top) includes some beautiful large-scale prints, while Jack Cunningham has created a sweet series of 3D printed dinosaurs, on show alongside a new print and animation showreel:


Kingston graduate Luke Evans is displaying his degree show project, Xero – a series of prints created using powder and 400,000 volts of electricity (you can read our interview with Evans here):


Camberwell graduate Gaurab Thakali’s display includes a mix of new work and jazz-inspired prints created for his degree show project last year:


Laura Callaghan has submitted some imaginative and highly detailed scenes depicting a range of female characters:


And Rop van Mierlo has created a charming, and unusual, series of animal portraits:


Upstairs, 16 collectives are showcasing prints, postcards, accessories and other illustrated ware for sale – including Glasgow risograph printing studio Risotto; Melbourne’s Supergraph; Italian group Studio Fludd; Scope Studio, which has collaborated with illustrators including Kyle Platts and Kate Copeland to create a series of tiles which visitors can use to make prints:


And Niles, a new illustration group founded by Bath School of Art and Design graduates Joe Gamble, Elliot Kruszynski, Alice Russell, Caroline Dunning and Alice Bowsher.


Blink Art has curated an original display inspired by 1980s Scratch-Art, with work from Rob Flowers and The Layzell Brothers, created especially for Pick Me Up (visitors can also make their own mini versions to win a free print):


While Moth Collective is showcasing some lovely animation work, including spots for NSPCC and this for the Global Canopy Programme, a think tank researching ways to preserve tropical forests:


Downstairs, Peckham Print Studio has taken over a gallery space to showcase artwork and host workshops for children and grown ups throughout the festival, and there’s also a shop selling illustrated books from the likes of Nobrow, Laurence King and Flying Eye, as well as independent magazines such as Wrap and Varoom.


In previous years, there’s been criticism of Pick Me Up’s focus on presenting goods for sale, particularly given the £10 entry fee (or £17.50 for a festival pass). The format is much the same this year, so it’s likely this will once again be a point of contention for some, but it’s still a visual treat for those who are there to browse instead of buy.

In the collective displays in particular, some of the work feels a little familiar (the trend for Memphis Group inspired illustration, which Gavin Lucas wrote about in our July 2014 issue, is clearly still going strong), but as Pick Me Up is aimed at the general public as well as the industry, it’s hardly surprising given this style’s continued popularity. There are some familiar names, too, but there’s also plenty of inventive and surprising work from fresh new faces.

Pick Me Up has also worked hard to curate a great schedule of talks, workshops and screenings this year, which visitors can drop in and out of on their visit. These include showings of excerpts from new film Made You Look, about the UK creative industry, Crowd Rounds, a late night talk exploring the rise of memes, emojis and tumblr art in visual culture and a Cover Club event with Ian Anderson and Secret 7″ founder Kevin King.

Jeremy Leslie will be talking to independent magazines including Riposte, the Gourmand and Delayed Gratification in daily MagCulture sessions; while various studios and this year’s selects will be discussing their processes, inspiration and recent projects.

There will also be a talk on a different issue affecting graphic art each day, each from a different speaker – Times cartoonist Martin Rowson is discussing cartoons and politics, V&A curator Catherine Flood, activist graphics, Lawrence Zeegen, commercial illustration versus socio-political work and Graham McCallum, how a move from analogue to digital has affected graphic art.

For the full line-up, click here. Pick Me Up is open from 10am until 6pm daily (and until 10pm Wednesdays and Thursdays) until May 4. For visitor’s details, see somersethouse.org.uk

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