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Pick Me Up Contemporary Graphic Art Fair 2012: Illustrator Emma Block Reviews

This year's Contemporary Graphic Art Fair Pick Me Up as seen from an up and coming illustrator's point of view. Amelia's Magazine contributor Emma Block reviews her fave picks.

Written by Emma Block

David Sparshott Pick Me Up

Illustration by David Sparshott.

Each year the relatively new addition to the art and design calendar that is Pick Me Up seems to find it’s feet a little more and get a little more into it’s stride. This year showcased an impressive range of up and coming illustrators, as well as collectives, agencies, galleries and workshops. To a (hopefully) up and coming illustrator such as myself, this is a pretty important event in the year.

Niki Pilkington Pick Me UpIt was nice to see more names I recognized this year. All the artists were inspiring last year, but I’d never heard of most of them. If you can’t be in the show, it’s nice at least to see your friends exhibited.  It makes it a slightly more realistic dream being to one day be featured in this annual celebration of illustration and design. As a collage artist it was also a refreshing change to see the reliance on traditional rather than digital media, which can dominate the illustration landscape at times. I also mush preferred the way the work was displayed this year. Illustrations are largely ephemeral; we throw illustration away every day, in magazine, newspapers and packaging etc, but I felt it was wrong to carry this idea into the display. Where work has once been clipped to sheets of pegboard, it was now framed and well lit.

Niki Pilkington Pick Me Up

Some of my favourites were Niki Pilkington’s feminine 3D illustrations, which combined fluorescent cut paper elements with sensitive pencil work, while Rikka Sormunen’s surreal and beautifully haunting watercolours showcased an expert use of colour and pattern. Both are featured in Amelia’s Pick Me Up Selects review.

Rikka Sormunen Pick Me Up

A familiar name was Tim McDonagh, previously featured on Amelia Magazine, whose incredibly intricate illustrations, which I had admired before online, looked amazing full sized and framed.

Tim McDonagh Pick Me Up

Sarah Maycock’s beautiful paintings were incredibly bold and expressive; the wrinkle of the paper under wet ink, the drips, slashes and smudges were all impossible to recreate in a digital medium.

Sarah Maycock Pick Me Up

David Sparshott’s colour pencil drawings captured some thing very real and human. It’s the little things like the way we take our tea, and the way we love to see things carefully collected and catalogued that made his work so personal.

David Sparshott Pick Me Up

Each artist showcased a different skill or attribute, each one leaving you itching to get the paints, pen and paper out yourself.

Away from the 20 selected illustrators in the main hall there was a whole world of warren like rooms and exhibition spaces to explore.  I entirely missed this section last year, so don’t make that mistake, there is so much more to see.

Tom Frost Soma Gallery

Soma is a little gem of a gallery that had set up shop in one of these rooms. Tom Frost’s vintage animal stamp prints and painted wooden sculptures were favourites of mine.

Tom Frost Soma Gallery

In the next room was Many Hands, an online shop that was new to me, but contained many familiar names. I had the chance to meet the lovely Lizzy Stewart, whose work I have long admired. Her delicate and sparing work was perfectly juxtaposed with Sister Arrow’s vividly coloured risographs. One of the lovely things about Pick Me Up is that there is something for every budget, from framed originals to zines, badges and post cards, and of course Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration and Anthology of Illustration, stocked by Beach London and featuring moi. As an illustrator shows like this not only inspire you, but also give you an insight into the industry. I know I was walking around mentally taking notes of possible stockists and collaborators.

Sister Arrow  Lizzy Stewart Many Hands

Lizzy Stewert Badges

To me this year’s Pick Me Up was bigger and most importantly better than ever before.  For the first time I feel like it truly represented an illustration and graphics industry that I not only know and love but also feel a part of. It is essential viewing for all art and design student, graduates, aspiring and professional creatives.


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