For the 7th year running ‘Pick Me Up’ has returned to Somerset House to celebrate all things graphic arts. It’s quickly become a must-see event in the London design calendar so we wanted to experience the hype for ourselves.
On entrance you are greeted by the ‘Pick Me Up Selects’ which showcases the work of 13 emerging artists, illustrators and designers who have graduated or set up studios during the past three years.
The works on this floor carry an illustrative style and range from screenprints to installations. Although they vary in technique, a lot of the pieces seemed to use an almost brash, painterly style – but perhaps as Graphic Designers we’re always likely to be drawn to those with a more graphical approach such as Corin Kennington’s warped type forms and Jack Sachs’ colourful, 2D animation ‘Inside ya body’.
There’s an informality about ‘Pick Me Up’ that sets it apart from other exhibitions. Its many workshops, talks and live demonstrations give it a relaxed, art fair vibe, with a strong emphasis on collaboration. Spectators are encouraged to get involved, learn about different techniques and try their hand at creating something themselves. A number of screen printing studios have occupied a space for the duration of the exhibition, with an array of impressive prints that are all available to purchase.
A collection of over 100 of Alan Kitching’s letterpress prints is featured alongside the works of the newer, emerging artists and this was a real favourite for us. ‘A Life in Letterpress’ demonstrates six decades of Kitching’s typographical design. All too often, typography is seen as a second consideration to content and you are left with poorly aligned, inconsistent, unmoving type. Kitching makes it into an art form, and his traditional letterpress techniques, intelligent composition and acute precision show just how powerful typography can be. Despite his faithfulness to metal and wood type, Kitching has also cleverly managed to embrace the current digital landscape, using computer design to practice compositions and explore new and exciting ways to present his work.
As designers working today, it’s vital we keep an eye on the new and it was the excitement of seeing the work and talent of emerging artists that drew us to ‘Pick Me Up’ this year. But, to our surprise, it was the wonderfully realised Alan Kitching exhibition that we found ourselves talking most about after the event, with it alone being reason enough to get to Somerset House before 2 May 2016.