Part of UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility at Somerset House, Pick Me Up is a showcase of international graphic artists and designers, comprising of gallery space, pop-up shops and public workshops delivered by emerging and established names. Bringing together everyday, usable creativity with a participatory approach and a sense of humour, the festival celebrates contemporary disciplines and takes the capital A out of art.
One of the main events was Alan Kitching: A Life In Letterpress, where Alan himself gave several live screen-printing demonstrations based on Somerset House’s Utopia theme. You needed to plant yourself selfishly on the edge of the mezzanine to catch a decent glimpse and I’m not sure what the front row audience were able to bribe to get within earshot, but I expect it was equal to a fenced Lichtenstein and a couple of rare IKEA pencils. There was still lots to take in: the walls of the exhibition room were 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.
Later in the afternoon, we were signed up for Okido Magazine‘s workshop to make digital animations using Stopmotion on iPads, Okido cute kids designs and several hundred split pins. Our characters were immortalised in a GIF that was emailed to us afterwards.
Amongst the Collectives, I had my height measured in millimetres 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!
Clay Collective were some of the most memorable exhibitors. They had shelves of small one-off hand built ceramics with unglazed paint finishes and beautifully naive designs .
The Selects artists such were mostly young recent graduates and featured a mixture of different materials including meringue, hundreds and thousands and other gelatine like substances. Alice Bowsher‘s illustrations were playful and familiar – they make great merchandise. Jack Sachs (who is the mind behind the hilarious Wine Gums and Liquorice Allsorts TV adverts) uses a combination of hand drawing and 3D design software and happily included my current preoccupation – Hama beads.