Part of UTOPIA 2016, Pick Me Up is London’s annual festival dedicated to international graphic arts. During a two week run, emerging and established designers take over the South Wing of Somerset House with pop-up shops and public workshops, taking the capital A out of art with a participatory approach and playful sense of humour.
One of the headline events of the festival is Alan Kitching: A Life In Letterpress, for which Alan himself is giving live screen-printing demonstrations based on the Utopia theme. During my visit, I soon realised that you needed to plant yourself selfishly on the edge of the mezzanine to catch a decent glimpse of him in action. I’m not sure what the front row audience had to bribe to get within earshot, but I expect it equated to a fenced Lichtenstein and a couple of rare edition IKEA pencils.
Nonetheless, there is still lots to take in from the dark side of the crowd; the walls of the exhibition room are covered in Alan Kitching‘s typographical prints, as well as equipment used in the design process and other artefacts gathered from several decades of practice.
I was more successful on level two of the building, where I was enlisted on to Okido Magazine‘s workshop to make digital animations using Stopmotion, cutesy Okido designs and several million split pins. Our animated characters were brought to life by the equally cute French family that is the Okido team and immortalised in a GIF emailed to us at the end of the day.
Amongst the activities in the Collectives section, I had my height measured in millimetres (1740 exactly in Gazelles) by Michael Marriott in exchange for a 2 pence piece, which is a small price to pay for rediscovering a meticulous metric measurement. Don’t mention the c-word!
The Selects area was where I had the most fun. The section comprised mainly of recent graduates, most of whom use digital mediums as well as pen and ink to make tactile work.
Jack Sachs, the mind behind the Wine Gums and Liquorice Allsorts TV adverts, uses a combination of sketching and 3D design software to make motion graphics after suffering an injury to his drawing hand. Though, some of the most satisfying pixels in his corner have been created with ironed together plastic Hama beads - reassuring for those of us who are non too familiar with Adobe Suite.
In fact, many more of the exhibtiors seem to share Sachs' penchant for unorthodox artist’s materials – Julian Glander‘s section of wall includes hundreds and thousands, meringue, and other gelatinous substances, complete with googley eyes and smiley faces. His neighbouring Charlotte Mei‘s work draws from ‘Pokemon, Drake, to the ubiquitous Sports Direct Mug’ and if that’s not speaking to Gen Y then I don’t know what is.
Pick Me Up closes this Bank Holiday but UTOPIA continues throughout 2016 and you can find a full list of featured artists and exhibitors on the festival website.