This week, W+K designer Michael Bow popped down to Pick Me Up at Somerset House. He reported back with his thoughts on the event and the visual trends emerging from the industry in 2015.
Now in its sixth year, Pick Me Up, billed as a “Graphics Arts Festival” houses a range of work from new and established illustrators, designers, illustrative designers, and everything in between. It’s a pretty good way to gauge what’s trendy in the market that year.
Working at any agency like W+K, it’s important to keep an ear to the ground and know what’s going on; sometimes emerging styles influence our practice, and sometimes we actively go against what’s expected in current visual communications.
Despite the fact that the event is meant to support and showcase up-and-coming creatives, there has been a lot of criticism aimed at Pick Me Up over the past few years. The entry fee still seems hefty considering that you are bombarded with price tags and pay points (and a pop-up café?) from the minute you walk in, but the work is now increasingly presented in a more refined and digestible manner.
Previous years had resembled some sort of doodle-filled TK Maxx, but this year, the show has a nice pace to it, and each individual station is distinctive and well constructed. I would also highly recommend arriving early if possible, to avoid throngs of disapproving designers.
The show this year has a heavy focus on print specialists. Peckham Print Studio, Sope Studio, and Hato Press are all operating live printing stations for people to not only learn about, but create and buy their own specialist prints on site. We caught up with graphic artist, and my fellow Glasgow School of Art graduate, Gabriella Marcella, who was amongst other things showcasing her Glasgow-based riso print studio Risotto.
Alongside the talent showcase, Pick Me Up is now also home to an impressive programme of events in a new presentation area billed as Pick Me Up Platform, all available with free entry. So if there is someone you are particularly interested in, you may be able to see them speak in the flesh too. The impressive headline slot on Thursday is occupied by The Designers Republic’s Ian Anderson, Secret 7”‘s Kevin King, and some DJ sets(?!).
Gabriella Marcella’s Display.
Rightly or wrongly, it feels as though there is less focus on concept and communication when designers and illustrators are left to play. Coming from a position and industry where design and Illustration is very much a commercial venture, and should be used as a tool for clear communication, I feel that a lot of the efforts in the work supported at the event are sometimes a little misplaced, along with the emerging area between graphic design and art.
However, this is a celebration of personal creative freedom, and I was personally drawn to the pieces which display a consistent, interesting and fun use of style. The show’s highlight, aptly titled ‘Pick Me Up Selects’, showcases 12 emerging artists selected by a panel of industry experts. I particularly loved the fantasy comic book/8-bit world seen in Peter Judson’s display. Other highpoints are Jack Cunningham’s Jurassic models, Gaurab Thakali’s jazzy prints and Hattie Newman’s amazing paper-cut micro-sets.
There are lots of amusing things to glance at and flick through as you wander through the different rooms. Other parts of the show I especially enjoyed were the prints by Italian studio La Tigre, and the displays set up by London’s animation collective Moth. Lazy Oaf also have a striking room featuring the results from their FUN project, in which they collaborated with a range of illustrious including Alexander Medel Calderón.
My favorite cat print from Hato Press
David Mendez Alonso’s cap collection
Work from La Tigre,
and Kyle Platts.
Pick Me Up runs until Monday 4th May at Somerset House. Check it out.