London: Pick Me Up Graphic Arts Festival 2016

London’s definitive arts and cultural centre, Somerset House, will again play host to a vibrant and comprehensive program of visual art events to kick off the English summer. Consisting of a series of daily workshops, talks, demonstrations and games, Pick Me Up 2016 will feature not just established graphic artists, but also top emerging illustrators and designers.

Now in its seventh year, the event will make up part of the larger celebration UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility. Based on philosopher Thomas More’s famous inspirational text, UTOPIA, as a further series of events, will span the disciplines of art, literature, fashion, design, film and architecture.


A unique part of the London cultural scene and a key destination for art lovers, Somerset House is a spectacular, neo-classical building where visitors can experience a broad variety of artistic activity in a relaxed and welcoming environment. Engaging directly with artists and actively being part of the wider creative community is a theme extended further with the Pick Me Up festival. It promises to showcase new work by international up-and-coming graphic artists and illustrators who are specially selected by an industry panel. A broad range of disciplines will be featured, including illustration, animation and 3-D installations. In addition, a fresh selection of collectives, galleries and studios will each create their own spaces and take up residency for the festival’s duration.

George Douglas

Workshop themes for the week include Fashion Illustration, Bookbinding, Freestyle Clay Work, Collagraphic Printing and Sign Writing.

Under the expert instruction of creatives from groups such as Rookie Mag, Hato Press Workshops, Clay Collective and Better Letters, visitors can hand-make their own clay vessels, printed planters, painted signs and more.

Community Talks will also feature throughout the week, with an engaging series of short talks and panel discussions with participants from this year’s artistic line-up. Expect to hear more from artist, curator and creative consultant Patrick Murphy – founder of creative platform Made North – who will be speaking about community mapping and UK thinking. Ken Kirton, co-founder of Hato Press – the UK’s largest Risograph printing and publishing house – will be addressing creative community values and talking more about this year’s PMU festival identity.

In addition to daily live demonstrations of his letterpress process, Alan Kitching (of Alan Kitching: A Life in Letterpress fame) will join the book’s author, John L Walters, in a panel discussion reflecting on his work and practice. Kitching debuts a brand new print this year, which was inspired by Somerset House’s year of Utopia. Of this work, he says: “The print is based on the description in Thomas More’s book of the ‘Island of Utopia’ incorporating my own version of the Utopian alphabet depicted in typographic ornaments of circle, square and triangle.”

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Pick Me Up 2016 will offer design-lovers a chance to buy limited-edition prints, apparel and homewares direct from artists and designers.

In addition to established artists, collectives and agencies, the event also offers up-and-coming talent a chance to showcase their work and sell it to illustration lovers. Each year, an industry panel selects new illustrators to be involved and to produce new and exclusive work to show and sell on the show floor. Studios, independent galleries and agencies, all of whom curate their own space, will share the floor with these newly selected artists. Therein lies the true spirit of the Pick Me Up festival; opportunities for likeminded illustrators to meet, support one another, discuss collaborations and share ideas.

Camilla Perkins


Pick Me Up 2016 runs at Somerset House from Thursday 21 April – Monday 2 May 2016.

Shop Shop:

Get Social:

  • #pickmeuplondon
  • @SomersetHouse
Pictured at top: Pick Me Up 2015 at Somerset House


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