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.
Every year in March, the CdeC (Spain's version of D&AD) celebrates the 'Dia C,' the main event for the Spanish advertising industry. It hosts creativity awards as well as lectures from local and international speakers. W+K CDs – and bonafide Spaniards – Carlos and Laura, were invited to speak. They write:
We had been invited to talk about our experience working overseas, so we thought that it would be a great opportunity to share with our colleagues a little of W+K philosophy and the way we do things here. We called it “Deconstructing W+K”.
We didn´t show any case studies or discuss any particular piece of work. Instead, we made quite an educational analysis on most of the wiedenisms (the sayings and philosophies W+K has adopted over the years), the idiosyncrasy of our creative process and the challenges and rewards of a ruthless commitment to creative excellence.
The take-out we wanted to leave behind was that the values that have made W+K one of the greatest agencies can really travel and be inspirational for those young and independent agencies starting up everywhere. As we said, “The best work of our lives” is not just a punchy line from a well-established and successful business, but a principle of work ethic that a small, independent agency chose 33 years ago and that any creative business in any small town of Spain can choose too.
This edition of the 'Dia C' took place in Pamplona, Ernest Hemingway´s favourite Spanish town. And we dare to say that it's much tougher to stand in front of 500 creatives with a hangover than being chased by a herd of wild bulls. But thankfully, everything turned out pretty well and the audience praised how inspired they felt to embrace failure more often and to happily walk in a little bit more stupid every morning.
Little things can have a significant effect on our lives. Take the fact that human touch is really good for us.
Neuroscientists have proven that little incidental touches are vital for happiness and wellbeing to humans. Did you know that holding hands can decrease symptoms of depression? That a cuddle can help a premature baby gain weight? Or that a little pat on the back from a teacher can double a student’s confidence to speak up in class?
Being the curious bunch we are, we stumbled on to these findings recently and we were astonished how something so simple, and something we can all have access to, can make such a difference. We were even more surprised to discover that ethnologists recently found out that us Brits touch each other the least out of any other country in the world. Which means here in the UK, we're the most touch deprived.
So we decided to make an interface to try and change that, through the simple act of holding hands.
The really great thing about holding hands is that it’s one of the most effective ways to release the happiness neurochemical oxytocin into the body.
Using a simple Makey Makey, a team of W+Kers including Luke Tipping, Joseph Haigh and Daniel Smith built a giant conductive controller that only works when users hold hands with a playing partner. With this experiment, it really does take two to play the game.
We hooked the In Your Hands controller up to a game and debuted the project at the Wired 2014 Next Generation event in London last weekend, alongside projects from Google and MIT. Next Generation aims to excite and inspire curiosity in 12-18 year olds with talks, workshops and interactive exhibits themed around technology and creativity.
The results of our In Your Hands exhibit were fascinating, with Wired guests queueing up to take a spin on the controller and getting competitive in trying to smash their previous high scores. The best thing about the day was feeling a buzz in the atmosphere, thanks to all the oxytocin flowing through players' systems, as well as a constant flow of high fives. Great stuff.
Get a glimpse of the day here:
Thanks to Wired for having us, and to all the W+K guinea pigs we tested the controller on.
W+K copywriter Erin Swanson (one of the aforementioned Americans), gives us her view of OFFF 2014:
It comes as no surprise to me that the Americans were the best speakers at the OFFF Festival 2014. I say that because I'm American, and I believe Americans to be superior in most ways.
I'm kidding of course, which is something Americans do. Actually, that might be why they make such good speakers. Also, they curse, which always makes things more exciting, goddamnit.
I attended OFFFF in a slightly different capacity as my Art Director partner, David Goss (see his review below. Never knew he was so into toilets). I'm a writer, and so most of the names of OFFF's design industry speakers and past speakers didn’t sound familiar to me. I went in with little knowledge and no expectations, and that's probably why I enjoyed it.
Did you know that it takes a full year to make one music video for Arcade Fire? Cause I didn't.
Did you know that a degree in geology can lead to some pretty baller illustration skills? Cause I didn't.
Did you know that sponges have happy faces in Tokyo? Cause I didn’t.
Have you seen Fleur and Manu’s Hate or Glory video? Cause if you haven’t then you should stop reading this post and watch it now…
Did you know you can make 150,000 smackeroos designing the opening credits for a single Robert Downey Junior movie? Cause I didn’t.
Did you know that all you have to do to make an audience laugh is wear a plaid tuxedo jacket and talk about fried chicken? Cause I actually already knew that one…
Obviously Chip Kidd was the most entertaining speaker at OFFF because his presentation was well written, comically timed and riddled with witty zings on the publishing industry. But I learned something, even from the speakers who read off notecards the whole time. Ok maybe I fell asleep for a second during the guy with the geology degree… but I was probably just fatigued from all the learning!
Overall, David’s right. The less you know about a subject, the easier you are to impress. That being said, an entertaining presentation makes a big difference after 10 hours sitting in a plastic folding chair. But that’s the case with most “festivals” of public speaking. I once went to a real estate convention at an airport hotel in South Florida with my father. There were no windows, no Spanish hipsters and by the end I had a carry-on packed with three ring binders full of laminated topography charts. At least they had cool tote bags at OFFF!