Pick Me Up 2014, Somerset House

The UK’s original contemporary graphic arts festival, Pick Me Up, returns for the fifth year. Celebrating graphic art in all its various formations, the event transforms the walls of Somerset House into a visually stimulating masterpiece as it brings together some of the best artists working in this practice from across the world. Aimed at being the antithesis of a traditional art fair, Pick Me Up is a fun and informal festival featuring quirky studio spaces in which audiences can shop for affordable artwork from the great and good of graphic arts, and a daily, lively line-up of events which encourage both budding and bonafide artists of all ages to get involved.

The 2014 event is bigger and better than ever with an increased number of late nights and an even wider range of illustration and design represented, from fashion and architecture to comic books and album covers. New for 2014 is Pick Me Up Radio, which streams live from Somerset House. With specially invited DJs, interviews and take-over days, festival-goers are able to see the radio broadcasts being put together live and listen online remotely. In addition to these events, Pick Me Up is collaborating with signature skate brand DC Shoes to commission t-shirts from 10 artists to be exclusively launched and sold at the festival.

The festival is split into three main sections – events, collectives and galleries, and Pick Me Up Selects. Everyday of the festival is programmed with an exciting and eclectic schedule of events, activities, and special guests leading talks and workshops, all free with entry. This year, there is a special one-off events from Daisy de Villeneuve and Jo Ratcliffe, illustrators working at the forefront of a new wave of fashion imagery. Fashion illustrator Daisy de Villeneuve, whose funky felt-tip illustrations are some of the fashion world’s favourites and can be seen everywhere from Topshop to Vogue, is leading activities on the opening weekend. De Villeneuve is joined by art director and animator Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe drew and directed the animation in Lady Gaga’s Applause video, designed the typography of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album, and counts Louis Vuitton, Chloé and Kenzo as clients. Cartoonist Gemma Correll, Pick Me Up Select artist Jessica Das and current affairs artist George Butler also host masterclasses over the weekend.

In the Collectives and Galleries section cutting-edge organisations curate a customised studio space in the Embankment Galleries of Somerset House, where they present a plentiful body of new and existing work. For 2014, Shoreditch’s Beach London gallery launch exclusive new limited-edition products including t-shirts and skateboard decks, themed around the role graphic art has played in subculture. Unlimited, a Brighton-based independent shop, gallery and studio, showcase and sell an exciting selection of concept-led, unique and innovative work. Galleries Handsome Frank is also in attendance, along with Outline Artists, who present limited-edition prints and original pieces from artists such as Anthony Burrill, Kate Moross and James Joyce.

The third section is Pick Me Up Selects. This part of the fair represents a group of international rising stars who have recently graduated or set up new studios chosen by the Pick Me Up curators and a guest panel of industry insiders. They are all commissioned to create new work specially for the event, giving visitors the opportunity to browse for a bargain from the next generation of graphic artists. Previous participants include Jean Jullien, Mr Bingo and Sarah Maycock. This years selection features a variety of important practitioners, some already working for the likes of Hermes, V&A and J. Crew. The participants are: Julia Pott, Kyle Platts, Thibaud Herem and Isabel Greenberg.

Pick Me Up is an important event in the graphic art calendar, bringing together the very best established and emerging designers. The event offers numerous activities to those working in the industry and the general public to get to grips with elements of the art form.

Pick Me Up, 24 April – 5 May, Somerset House, Strand, London.

1. Pick Me Up 2013 © Kevin Meredith.