This April, the UK's annual contemporary graphic arts festival Pick Me Up returns to Somerset House for its sixth edition, featuring a fresh line-up of designers and illustrators. After five successful years of showcasing the best new work from all disciplines within the graphic arts spectrum, Pick Me Up 2015 will offer visitors the chance to engage directly with talent, see work being made onsite, participate in lively discussions, and even create their own work to take home.
Pick Me Up 2015 will provide the opportunity to purchase work by a rising star, and for industry professionals and enthusiasts to be inspired and educated in equal measure.
Located at the heart of the festival in 2015 will be Pick Me Up Platform, a diverse programme of drop-in debates, presentations and open-forums that will continue almost non-stop throughout the 12-day run. The Pick Me Up Platform will be a hub of activity, allowing visitors to participate in dynamic discussions as well as hearing anecdotes about particular projects and learning about the creative journeys of inspiring practitioners specialising in techniques ranging from laser-cutting (25 April) to traditional embossing and printing (26 April).
Designer and magazine expert Jeremy Leslie will lead magCulture Live discussions with various editorial powerhouses about the design of independent publications. Speakers include It's Nice That's Rob Alderson about his quarterly Printed Pages (26 April), Rosa Park discussing her work at Cereal (30 April), David Lane speaking about The Gourmand (29 April), Polly Glass of Wrap Magazine (23 April) and Cathy Olmeillas of Anorak magazine (2 May).
Further highlights of the Pick Me Up Platform include talks from industry movers and shakers, magazine editors considering what makes great work, and a daily series called "Why I..." where graphic designers discuss their unusual ways of working. Examples include London advertising expert Sam Roberts of Ghostsigns revealing why he "Looks Up" (23 April) or designer Benjamin Redford explaining "Why I Crowdsourse" and the background to his project Internetopia, one of the largest ever crowdsourced drawings (28 April).
Graham McCallum, co-founder of the recently closed Kemistry Gallery, will lead a discussion on Tuesday 28 April to discuss plans to not only find a permanent space for the gallery, but also to transform it into a new National Centre for Graphic Design.
On 2 May, well-known educator Professor Laurence Zeegan, Dean of the School of Design at London College of Communication, will consider the theme of "risk taking" in the world of graphic design and illustration, discussing how pushing the limits of any given discipline can drive creative practice forward.
Music continues to play an important part in the festival, with Cover Club presents: In Conversation with Ian Anderson, founder of The Design Republic, at the late night opening on Thursday 30 April. The evening of talks will centre around Anderson's work designing record sleeves for the seminal label, Warp Records, accompanied by specially-curated DJ sets 'til late.
This year's Pick Me Up 'Selects' showcases a group of 12 young, international graphic artists, carefully chosen by a panel of industry professionals and festival curators as 'ones-to-watch' over the coming year. Each day of the festival at 3pm, visitors can hear about each Select's practice from the artist themselves, whether it be Swedish artist Sara Andreasson discussing her digital illustrations (4 May), Hattie Newman on her intricate 3D paper craft (2 May) or Irish illustrator Laura Callaghan sharing the inspiration behind her raucous scenes (29 April).
Elsewhere at the festival, the UK premiere of Made You Look, a thought-provoking documentary which provides a rare and candid insight into the graphic arts climate and the practices of the UK's top creative talent will be screened on Friday 1 May. The premiere will be accompanied by a Q&A session with directors Paul O'Connor and Anthony Peters, and producer David Waterson. A limited number of tickets are available for £12 (£10 concession). For those who miss out, Made You Look Daily Editions in the form of short films and teasers will be screened throughout the festival in the Pick Me Up Platform space.
Between 10am-4pm on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 April, Pick Me Up favourite Rob Flowers will lead free, drop-in Scratch Art Workshops at BlinkArt's studio. To coincide with the workshops, children (and big children, too) are invited to help Flowers craft a unique story out of scratch art. The winning entrant, drawn at random, will be awarded one of Rob Flower's pieces of Scratch Art created especially for the story, plus a year's subscription to Anorak magazine.
For those in need of a pick-me-up at the festival, FARM:shop, east London's urban farming and cooking school, will be serving up some of London's freshest food, grown and picked at their indoor farm in Dalston. For their first presentation at the festival, they will not only be serving tasty treats but also collaborating with Pick Me Up artists to produce specially-designed grow-kits and seed packs to inspire visitors to get farming at home.
As in previous years, each of the individual studio spaces presented by the collectives, galleries and design studios will be interactive, with some special events throughout the festival. For example, newcomers to Pick Me Up, Peckham Print Studio, will share the secrets of a professional screen-printing studio with members of the public by hosting interactive workshops on producing hand-printed editions.