Graphic design without the (micro)chips

19 Apr

There’s no point taking a day off work if you haven’t got something to do with it. I’m always drawn to London’s South Bank as it’s a visual and aural feast, especially when the weather’s fine. Today I decided to cross the river to Somerset House and see wha’ gwan at Pick Me Up, the Graphic Arts Festival.


It turned out to be a couple of hours well spent and I recommend it as ‘something for the weekend’ if you’re stuck for ideas. The show features graphic artists from the US, France and the UK (possibly others but I didn’t see that much by way of far eastern or South American grown talent.

Miss A ink on paperOn the ground floor, once you pass the ticket desk keep an eye out for Stuart Patience’s  detailed monochrome work which took me back to the days of 0.1mm rotring drawing pens, we didn’t have Adobe Illustrator then (oops! Is my age showing?). My favourite piece Miss A, is pictured and looks like a tree swallowing a woman.

Just round the corner Malika Favre has the entire Kama Sutra alphabet neatly arranged on the wall, appropriately framed in red on a black background (you re-read that last line didn’t you). Each position represents a letter and the attention to detail is admirable; where the woman is facing the other way notice the absence of her beauty spot.

Moving on!

Cityscape by UgoUgo Gattoni’s drawings are also incredibly detailed but the difference here is the Salvador Dali influence. The Paris based artist draws incredibly detailed cityscapes entirely in fine-liner pen but the stand out piece was a rendering of an African elephant which looked like wrung garments. You have a go at describing Dali-esque (does that word exist?) and see how easy it is.

Upstairs I had a word with the Fatherless Print Posse from Rockford, Illinois who produce screens for each show they attend and print t-shirts and posters. It was a real treat watching them work with pen, ink and silkscreen and I got misty-eyed reminiscing about making my own pieces during my uni days in Ife. That’s another story so we won’t go there, yet.

Screen ready for printingStandout pieces include a Charles Bronson print and another that can only be described as ‘Aztec influenced’ – we’ll leave it there.

I had the most fun with Jon Burgerman who had come up with an ingenious way (well I think it is) to involve his audience and make his stand more interactive. It consists of a board game where you roll the dice and the tile you land on has some instructions varying from a spinning a wheel to freestyling with a marker. You then get 30 seconds to draw whatever the wheel or tile tells you to. Once the time’s up you switch places and Jon gets 30 seconds to add or modify what you’ve done and so on till you get to the end of the board. The winner then gets to choose between using the final 30 seconds to draw anything they like or get Jon to do it.

I won and Jon had 30 seconds to draw Thumper.

It was so much fun I’ve decided I’m stealing it for ‘games night’, though it might be a challenge getting the little ‘un to stick to the rules.

Jon Burgerman's game

The festival runs until the 28th April 2013 and tickets are £8 or £15 for a festival pass which was what I opted for, means I can go back and tell you a bit more about other interesting stuff I found.

Laters then.


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