Pick Me Up

On what turned out to be a glorious, almost summer-like evening, the Cog team meandered their way along the Strand to the wonderful Somerset House for this year’s Pick Me Up festival — a cramped, multi-floored marketplace packed full of young, all-too-eager art and design types, proudly boasting their best mark-making achievements, both on paper and on themselves. Other attractions included live illustrating, “I’ll draw anything you want for £5” stalls, screen-printing in the Print Club London stall, a bar and a DJ and band setup (although the band were nowhere to be seen).

As I wandered around I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by the wall-to-wall plastering of prints, drawings and sketches. The large-scale cardboard constructions that dotted the show were a welcome break from the small scale images that were often given no room to breathe in some of the confined rooms.

They remind me of the youngsters that interrupt your determined walk to “take 5 minutes of your time to talk about [insert charity name here]”

Jonathan Stanbrook

As much as I was overwhelmed by the setup, I must say I was underwhelmed by much of the work itself. Apart from a few cases, I couldn’t help but feel that much of it was the same — eclectic collectives of students, with names that match their make-up. Perhaps I do them all a disservice but I struggle to take them seriously. They remind me of the youngsters that interrupt your determined walk to “take 5 minutes of your time to talk about [insert charity name here]”. Some of the work just felt saccharine and ready-made for the greeting cards industry, with cute hand drawn letters commanding us all to “Be nice to everyone…”.

There were some highlights though. The stand-out displays were naturally Print Club London, with their screen-print offering and this years collaboration with Bob Gill (which I was delighted to see). The room hosted by Unlimited, a Brighton based collective, had a number of gems. In particular Paul Farrell’s one-colour prints were amongst my favourite from the show. The stand that drew a lot of attention was Malika Favre, whose alphabet from human figures for Penguin’s recent edition of the Kama Sutra received much acclaim and publicity in the design press last year.

I may be over-critical of Pick Me Up. There were a number of talks and special events that were going on during the day and late evening that we missed so there was a lot on offer if you have more than an hour or so to spare. There is also something special about seeing works created by hand that has a certain charm and an admiration for the skill involved. The whole place certainly had a buzz and a lively feel that was reflected in the work — bold, colourful, noisy but mostly lost in the cacophony and confusion.

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