Pick Me Up Festival 2016
Director, New York
Pick Me Up Festival returned to Somerset House last week, to celebrate illustrators and designers from all over the world.
Alongside exhibits from more established artists, ‘Pick Me Up Selects’ features 18 recently graduated artists, selected by an expert panel. Focusing on this year’s theme of community and collaboration, there were also opportunities to learn and get involved with the processes used to create the art on display.
The first artist that pulled me in was Aart-Jan Venema – one of the young artists featured in the ‘Pick Me Up Selects’ exhibition. While not a style I’d usually be attracted to, I found myself glued to his intricately-detailed series about finding the adventure in everyday life. Each piece creates an interesting narrative out of the mundane, and has a spontaneous appeal to them – almost like he started at one side of the canvas and made it up as he went along.
Perhaps my favourite exhibition was 3rd Rail’s Artist Beer Vision (ABV), which invited 20 artists to create fictitious beer labels. This resulted in a collection of spectacularly well illustrated screen prints, all of which would look at home on a craft beer label. While this is telling of an industry where designers have permission go wild, it also raises a question – would any of these actually stand out as a distinctive beer label on the shelf?
An expansive room featuring Alan Kitching’s typographical work finished proceedings. As a man who gets hot under the collar with typography, I’ve always found a certain allure with the letterpress, which conjures up images of inky fingers rifling through of vast collection of typefaces. This came through in this exhibition, which not only showcased his distinctive style, but examined the processes behind the work, and took you on a journey of his life. What started an apprenticeship at a local printers, culminated in the purchase of a vast collection of type from a theatrical printers, in lieu of a pension. Financially irresponsible, perhaps, but I suspect the ROI likely paid off.
In keeping with this year’s theme collaborative theme, Pick Me Up creates a great environment for anyone to get involved with graphic art, even if it is just to pick up a couple of prints.