Tiger Feet by Paul Blow.
Yesterday 2011’s Pick Me Up once again kicked off in the Embankment Galleries at Somerset House. I went along to the opening night to check out this years talent.
Like last year, the lower galleries are once again devoted to the young rising stars of graphic design and illustration. This is the section for which I was asked to nominate a selection of Up and Coming illustrators many months ago. None of my suggestions were picked, and on the basis of some artists who were chosen I would question the description. Tom Gauld – an old acquaintance of mine – has surely been at the top of the illustrative game for many years, as have some of the others. At 47 years old American artist Polly Becker is hardly young. Although it’s great to be feted at any time in your career it’s a bit of an oversight to champion well established artists as Ones to Watch. But nonetheless let’s continue with the review: there was much to enjoy in this gallery.
London based designer Kate Moross has quickly established a glowing reputation for her bold psychedelic style.
Matthieu Bessudo, aka McBess, favours a cartoonagraphic style with a surreal edge. Expect naked ladies with ninja faces. I liked the intricate stories in the large scale Night & Day artwork best.
Seiko Kato was a real discovery – this Japanese artist lives in Brighton and produces amazingly detailed collages, filled with colourful flora and fauna. The Funeral is a beautifully surreal large scale work.
I loved the bold colours and shapes of Andy Rementer.
Jules Julien makes macabre fine line work influenced by the surrealist drawing game Exquisite Corpse.
Typography is Jessica Hische’s speciality. Another American, she was a senior designer for Louise Fili Ltd. Beautifully rendered, if a little polished.
Swedish designer Clara Terne is inspired by the deep oceans and outer space, both equally other worldly. Kaleido did pretty much what it said on the tin. Nebuloso was a beautiful piece of digital art.
MVM is a Norwegian and co founder of the Grandpeople design studio. He employs a fluid minimalist form and exhibits huge silk banners – almost Japanese in appearance.
From Hong Kong but working in London, Victo Ngai graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. I loved her Japanese influenced drawings, which recall the fine detailing of woodblocks combined with a whimsical touch.
James Graham favours a simple graphic aesthetic.
Revenge is Sweet shows bold 80s art deco artwork that has obvious advertising applications.
Sarah Arnett shows some beautiful digitally created flower artwork, densely created in curious colourways. Her original training as a textile designer is evident in these botanically inspired pieces.
From Belgium, Gwenola Carrere shows some fabulous screenprints. She has published three children’s books to date. I loved her bold playful style.
Nigel Peake, from Ireland, makes lovely delicate abstract work. He has exhibited globally and I’ve always considered him more of a fine artist.
Another Japanese artist, Takeru Toyokura shows amazing felt collages that depict weird faceless figures in surreal situations. Blonde haired children float against grandiose architecture. Strangely wonderful.
Polish artist Otecki creates black block prints inspired by both traditional iconography and graffitti. Loved his owl.
Another Japanese artist: Yoh Nagao is another surrealist collagist (do you sense a bit of a theme yet?)
Annelie Carlstrom uses a propelling pencil to fashion detailed pictures of girls with huge faces and extravagant hair. Quite unsettling.
Paul Blow’s work really caught my eye for it’s strong colours and amusing narratives.
Tom Gauld creates a weekly cartoon for the Guardian newspaper and you will no doubt be familiar with his unique drawings and quirky ideas – he used to run an independent publishing house with my bessie mate, the super talented Simone Lia.
Polly Becker’s surrealist illustrations are created through the assemblage of ephemera.
My boyfriend was most taken with the work of Stefanie Posavec, a graduate of Colorado State University who has an MA in Communication Design from Central Saint Martins. Her data visualisation is almost autistic in it’s detail.
I would love to see more emphasis on really new talent in this section, or perhaps in another bespoke section. Not to mention more variety in style (surreal, collage…) and a real nod to all the amazing home bred talent that is so prevalent on the blogosphere, in the zine world and elsewhere in the UK. The work shown is of an undoubtedly high standard but I think it’s an opportunity missed.
Print Club London.
Nobrow and Ditto Press showcase their innovative independent publishing work on this floor, then above and below this gallery are stationed the collectives who pitched to take part in Pick Me Up. Print Club London is once again holding live screen-printing workshops.
I particularly liked the print (for sale) by Sister Arrow, who has created an imaginary pygmy super-race simply called Sumo Babies of which I presume Crystal String Dance is one.
I also liked Margaux Carpentier’s work. Her print is inspired by an Eskimo legend where the first woman meets the wolf-god Amarok.
The JaguarShoes Collective is showing for the first time, with lots of work for sale from a wide variety of loosely associated artists. For Pick Me Up they have created a Campfire wall – featuring over sized marshmallows and flickering tissue flames.
Next door is the minimalist Nous Vous set up.
Evening Tweed’s exhibition space looks like a trendy aspirational shop in Brick Lane, with artfully arranged mementos lined around the walls. I wish my studio space looked like this!
Anthony Burrill is hosting the big central space – he may be an interesting graphic artist but he’s no Rob Ryan when it come to production techniques: expect photocopied collage opportunities and DJ-ing.
Pick Me Up Anthony Burrill area.
Suddenly it was closing time so I missed the It’s Nice That section and what looked like an interesting 3D concept from Them Lot – make sure you drop in to be filmed as one of the characters in their cardboard city. Leaving, visitors pass through the Concrete Hermit bookstore, which is much better placed than it was last year. From tomorrow (a bit late in the day I will concede) the shop will stock copies of both my books.
UPDATE: ACOFI and AAOI are now available at Concrete Hermit shop!
Pick Me Up 2011-Nous Vous uke.
It’s exciting that an event like Pick Me Up exists, but disheartening that it isn’t more wide ranging and ambitious in the scope of its activities. What about the practical use of illustration and graphic art? Evening Tweed features some fabulous gilded Russian dolls, Nous Vous show a bespoke illustrated ukelele and the JaguarShoes Collective offers illustrated objects to buy, but there is very little consideration of how illustration can be applied to products within the exhibition as a whole or in the workshop schedule.
And what about the many different commercial aspects of working as an illustrator today? Where are the children’s book illustrators, the fashion illustrators, the illustrators who tackle sustainability within their work? Where is the discussion of the many many ways in which illustration is utilised within the online world, in animation and in editorial? Aspects of this will hopefully be brought up in workshops but I feel very strongly that there are only so many prints that people can buy for their walls, and an applied context is what differentiates illustration and graphic design from fine art so it really should be talked about in an exhibition such as this.
Evening Tweed Russian Dolls.
I also think it would be nice if different collectives and publishing houses were invited to take part in Pick Me Up every year, rather than many of the same ones returning again – I had a strong feeling of Deja Vu. And of course, lastly, I’d like to see more work from TRULY up and coming illustrators. There are so many very great ones out there….
You can read my full listing for Pick Me Up, including recommended events, right here. My review of last year’s Pick Me Up event can be read here. And in case you were wondering I feel it’s only right that I admit that I was actually asked to contribute this year. But we couldn’t agree on the best Amelia’s Magazine presence, which is a shame.
There’s always next year…
Amelia's Anthology of Illustration, Amelia's Compendium of Illustration, American, Andy Rementer, Annelie Carlstrom, Anthony Burrill, Central Saint Martins, collage, Colorado State University, Concrete Hermit, Crystal String Dance, Ditto Press, Evening Tweed, Exquisite Corpse, Grandpeople, Gwenola Carrere, illustration, It's Nice That, JaguarShoes Collective, James Graham, japanese, Jessica Hische, Jules Julien, Kate Moross, Margaux Carpentier, Matthieu Bessudo, McBess, MVM, Nigel Peake, Nobrow, Norwegian, Nous Vous, Otecki, Pick Me Up, Polly Becker, Print Club London, Revenge is Sweet, review, Samuel Esquire, Sarah Arnett, Seiko Kato, Simone Lia, Sister Arrow, Somerset House, Stefanie Posavec, surrealist, Swedish, Takeru Toyokura, Them Lot, Tom Gauld, typography, Yoh Nagao
- Pick Me Up Graphic Arts Festival 2013: Pick Me Up Selects Review
- Pick Me Up Contemporary Graphic Art Fair 2012: Pick Me Up Selects Review
- Pick Me Up Contemporary Graphic Art Fair 2012: Illustrator Emma Block Reviews
- Pick Me Up Contemporary Graphic Art Fair at Somerset House: Review
- Free Range Graduate Shows 2012: Middlesex University Graphic Design Ba Hons Review