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The Pick Me Up graphic art fair returns to London’s Somerset House this month, showcasing the work of individual illustrators, graphic designers and collectives from around the world. As in previous years, Pick Me Up Selects will feature 20 up-and-coming illustrators as part of a programme that also includes workshops and residencies — we have chosen four of those emerging illustrators to profile on these pages

Kristjana S Williams

Give us your life story in 30 words or fewer.

Growing up in Iceland. Creative director of Beyond the Valley, a fashion and design store in London’s West End, for almost a decade. V&A show. Starting my own design studio. Stocking in Liberty. Eiðar og Isól.

Why illustration?

Running Beyond the Valley has shaped and inspired my work throughout the years. My illustrations were originally created for our fashion collection and got a life of their own outside of that.

How would you describe your style?

Interweaving fragments of Victorian prints with contemporary illustration and colour, creating what have been called “delirious, magical landscapes, filled with impossible, exotic creatures”. In my head it is very graphic. Again, I think that comes from my country; glaciers carving out volcanoes and volcanoes exploding in the middle of glaciers, the moss growing slowly over decades only inches at a time on the sharp cold lava forms. The glowing snow at mid­night being lit up by the northern lights on a cold still night, and of course our black sand beaches in the middle of the winter when parts of the sea used to freeze.

What would your dream commission be?

I had my dream commission last year – three, three metre by two metre canvasses, emblazoned in gold leaf, for a private client in Europe [two of the canvasses, Everopa 01 and Latinu America, are shown above]. My next dream is to work with Russell Sage, the interior designer and any­thing large scale, covering walls many metres high, is a challenge that I really like.

kristjanaswilliams.com
beyondthevalley.com

Martin Nicolausson

Give us your life story in 30 words or fewer.

Born [Sweden], kids stuff, school, worked in computers, went to art school and uni, got drunk, graduated, London, worked on some fun things, got to answer questions in 30 words or fewer.

Why illustration?

To me it’s like graphic design without the rules. it doesn’t have to be about solving a problem, but instead it can be about creating a problem in someone’s head. Problems are what force us to move forward. I like them. But with that said, I also like solving problems and that’s why I feel a lot like a graphic designer as well as an illustrator.

How would you describe your style?

A combination of digital and analogue with equal amounts nostalgia and bold vision.

What’s the greatest thing about being an illustrator?

Being an artist, well almost anyway, without being broke.

And the worst?

Chasing late invoices.

What would your dream commission be?

Probably something to do with space, maybe they need a mural at the International Space Station?

Martinnicolausson.com
Swedish agent: NU agency, nuagency.se

Sarah Maycock

Give us your life story in 30 words or fewer.

Born in Dulwich. School in Catsfield. Secondary in Battle. College in Tonbridge. Foundation in Brighton. University in Kingston. Graduate in June 2011. Studio in Russell Green.

Why illustration?

I grew up around artists, and my grandpa was a very skillful and prolific painter. He inspired me hugely, to always draw and paint. I chose to study illustration as opposed to fine art however, as I was interested in the collaborative nature of a brief, or design project, as well as the magical and democratic ability of the printed press to distri bute an image that might not otherwise have reached such a wide audience. Receiving emails from people sitting on buses and trains, telling you that they loved the drawings of penguins you did in the newspaper is a really great feeling!

How would you describe your style?

Painterly, concerned with texture, the atmosphere of images, and the immediacy of mark-making.

What’s the greatest thing about being an illustrator?

Of all the things to have to worry about, to be able to worry about making images is not so bad.

What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?

Sometimes it can get a bit lonely, especially when the blank page is winning.

Dream commission?

It’s fantastic when you get the chance to work with people that you’ve always admired. I’d been a fan of [singer-songwriter] Imogen Heap for years when I was asked to collaborate with her and her team on her Neglected Space video, so that was a dream come true, as was working with Eureka Magazine and The Times on the recent David Attenborough, Frozen Planet interview. I sent him some prints of the illustrations and he wrote me a lovely hand-written letter back. I’d love to continue to have opportunities like these, to work with people who I admire, and on projects that allow me to work in new ways, outside of my usual comfort zone, that I might not otherwise have thought of.

sarahmaycock.co.uk
somersethouse.org.uk

Michael Kirkham

Give us your life story in 30 words or fewer.

I’ve tried hard and I’ve been very lucky.

Why illustration?

It’s the exact point between my two main fields of interest: stories and pictures.

How would you describe your style?

Lines and corners with the occasional pot plant.

What’s the greatest thing about being an illustrator?

The feeling of being completely engrossed in a project. I’ve heard it described as being in ‘flow’.

And the worst?

The pressure on the family of me working late nights and weekends.

What would your dream commission be?

Being asked to make a record of a place based on first-hand observation.

Michaelkirkham.com
Agent: Heart, heartagency.com

Pick Me Up is at the Embankment Galleries, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2 from March 22 to April 1. Details of all the contributing artists at somersethouse.org.uk

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