2014 Pick Me Up Festival, London

From skate decks to "print chemistry" and cats, highlights from the UK's annual survey of graphic arts

UK graphic arts and illustration festival Pick Me Up has returned to London’s Somerset House this month for its fifth year to showcase some of the most inspiring and exciting graphic art today. The ground floor of the picturesque historic building features more established works shown by collectives and galleries, while the lower floor offers new and exclusive work from emerging graphic artists, dubbed Pick Me Up Selects. Chosen by a panel of experts—including writer and curator Liz Farrelly, co-founder of Outline Artists and CH contributor Gavin Lucas, Sarah Mann of the British Council, Liv Siddall from It’s Nice That and the curatorial team at Somerset House—the 16 burgeoning artists on display downstairs have all graduated or set up shop within the last seven years.

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With its distinct community feel, plenty of interactive art and wide selection of events and workshops, Pick Me Up continues to be at the forefront of the UK’s thriving graphic arts industry. Below are a few highlights from this year’s creative fest.

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Illustration agency and consultancy Outline Artists’ space had a jungle theme, with palm fronds framing Hvass&Hannibal’s popular “Time Stood Still” print. The Copenhagen-based duo—Nan Na Hvass and Sofie Hannibal—has worked with clients including Adidas, 4AD and Microsoft.

East London-based art collective Animaux Circus also went botanical, with a mural installation inspired by African legends that mixed jungle flora with contemporary images—and some rap lyrics.

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Shop and gallery Beach London drew a large crowd with its display of streetwise art, including skate decks by Swedish artist Jacob Ovgren for Polar and by Stevie Gee for Satta.

Brothers of the Stripe (BOTS)—a collective of illustrators, graphic designers and image makers from all over the UK—sent its London-based members to Pick Me Up, where they displayed their “Print Chemistry,” with each member creating an illustration for a different element from the periodic table.


Edward Carvalho-Monaghan (one of the artists represented by Outline Artists) cites psychedelic musician and filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky as a strong influence on his trippy, super-saturated prints. His Pick Me Up works feature “psychedelic citizens who place profound importance on elaborate headwear.”

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Scottish illustrator Lynnie Zulu showed her vibrant, African-influenced prints with an ’80s/’90s feel—many of which have already been featured in i-D and Vogue.

Camberwell College of Arts graduate Kyle Platts (who graduated in 2011) has worked with District MTV and Vice, among others. For this event, he created new works featuring his signature take on modern life.

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London-based illustrator Alice Tye exhibited a project of illustrations inspired by Joan Didion’s novel “Play It as It Lays,” focusing on the novel’s themes of alienation and dislocation as well as its West Coast motifs of freeways, swimming pools and the Mojave Desert.

The back wall had a distinctly feline feel as Jessica Das’ playful cats and cat women stretched out across it. Children’s books and popular culture inspire the French-American illustrator’s drawings and collages.

Pick Me Up is on now until 5 May at London’s
Somerset House.

Images by Cajsa Lykke Carlson