I love Pick Me Up, especially the private view. Fine cheese, meats, booze and the best illustration and graphic arts you can hope for under one roof. In its fifth year the festival seems to have graduated from being a trade fair at which members of the public could by prints and knick knacks they wanted to hang in their kitchen, to being a place that celebrates the true craft of the world’s youngest and most talented artists.
The private view always feels totally buzzing, mainly because the artists and collectives contributing are finally letting their hair down via beer after months and months of hard work. This one felt even more electric though, there was a sense of rebellion in the air and a real vibe that everyone was exhibiting what they really wanted rather than what they thought might sell.
Kyle Platts is a good example of this. We’ve been big fans of Kyle’s puerile, Beavis and Butthead-esque illustration for a long while,and he’s recently started turning his flat images into funny, painted wooden sculptures which were on display with the rest of his brilliant new work. Ex-It’s Nice That Graduate Ed Cheverton had work on display as part of the Selects and was also exhibiting some wooden sculptures which he bravely decided to mark as “not for sale.”
Jack Hudson also exhibited some wooden sculptures that are a break from his everyday impeccable, beautiful illustrations. More evidence that people are choosing to exhibit at Pick Me Up and just be artists showing off their work, rather than hungry tradesmen. A chat with one of our favourite artists Ed Monaghan confirmed this further, when he revealed that he was selling his particularly spectacular prints at a price that wouldn’t even make him any profit.
Other highlights of the Selects were Thibaud Herem’s ever-mindblowing architectural drawings, Alice Tye’s beautiful suburban paintings and Linda Linko’s beautiful, abstract prints.
Upstairs in the bustling first level was a very good selection of collectives including small and very exciting Camberwell studio Olio. Pick Me Up has niggled me in the past sometimes for being a little too naive and patronising, with childish workshops and twee printing installations which I felt brought the tone down of the serious work being exhibited around. Sometimes when getting involved in stamping lessons or being asked to stick nice stickers on to coloured paper to “take home with me” I felt like I was being treated like a child rather than someone enjoying a cultural event. This year each interactive workshop or area of hands-on activity were brilliant and felt just right, encouraging grown ups to get involved and think of graphic arts as a real, serious profession as opposed to a wacky, fluffy strand of creativity.
Should everyone go? Yes. It’s the best one yet, everyone was saying it, not just me. Nowhere else in London, or maybe the UK, or even the world, will you find so much inspiration and talent in one spot. The gift shop’s pretty sweet as well.