It must be summer time. Pick Me Up is back and for its sixth year at Somerset House. With Secret 7” over in Seamen’s Hall too, Somerset House is pretty exciting right now. Pick Me Up was the place illustrator Steve Wilson discovered Edward Monaghan when he was featured as part of Pick Me Up Selects and this years PMU selects are just as exciting. Each artist will be producing new, exclusive work to see and buy. Hattie Newman, Jack Cunningham, Gaurab Thakali, Jennifer Argo, Laura Callaghan, Luke Evans, Peter Judson, Rop Van Mierlo, Sara Andreasson, Thomas Lamadieu and Zoe Taylor all feature this year. They are an extremely talented bunch and I am supremely excited about their work.

If the chance to see new rising stars of graphic arts is not reason enough to go then their brand new Pick Me Up Platform certainly is. PMU have invested a lot more time bringing a seriously diverse programme of over a hundred different talks, demonstrations and debates to the festival this year. The festival opened yesterday and I think I am going to have to take two weeks off work to get through everything on offer.

We are going to post our highlights from the festival throughout the next couple of weeks starting by interviewing the guys behind Made You Look, the excellent Graphic Arts documentary premiering at Pick Me Up next week which features Anthony Burrill, Hattie Stewart, Adrian Johnson, Ben The Illustrator, Pete Fowler, Sam Arthur, Will Hudson, Kate Moross, Ian Stevenson and Jon Burgerman amongst others. But before that here are some quick highlights from Pick Me Up’s packed schedule to get you started.

Launching at PMU this year, Learn With Hato, is a series of workshops on design, publishing and production including workshops on Risoprint, bookbinding, designing typefaces, and randomly but quite excitingly how to cook Korean food. Hato Press’s Ken Kirton will also be talking through their studio’s love of Risograph as part of a brilliantly curated series called Why I which will also feature the great Sam Roberts, founder of Ghostsigns and Better Letters who will be talking about what inspires him in his daily environment in a Why I Look Up session and Sam Arthur, co founder of Nobrow Press will explain how and why they started out in publishing in their Why I Publish session.

This year collective Peckham Print Studio have taken over the downstairs space and will be talking about running a busy commercial screen printing facility in South London and how different artists and designers make use of it. And the London Graphic Centre will host daily demonstrations led by top illustrators and designers including Niles Collective, Illustrator Ciara Phelan who will lead a paper craft demo and Melvin Galapon who will showcase creative uses for tape.

The thing I am most excited about however is a whole series of talks hosted by Mag Culture. There are so many interesting speakers I literally do not know what to do with myself. For starters They Made This contributor Intern magazine will there, with founder Alec Dudson discussing their brilliant bi annual magazine that showcases the best intern talent across the creative industries. There is a discussion with People of Print founder Marcroy Smith about their quarterly publication Print isn’t Dead. Then editor in chief of Riposte Magazine, Danielle Pender will be chatting about her super lovely magazine for smart women.

Popular children’s magazine Anorak are coming in, so are Stack and The Gourmand will be in to chat about their food and culture journal. Editor Rosa Park will be giving a talk about Cereal magazine, Rob Alderson from It’s Nice That will be discussing Printed Pages and on top of all that John L Walters, editor and co owner of Eye magazine will be there. That is a truly brilliant line up.

There is another series called Points of Contention who will host Kemistry Gallery’s Graham Mc Callum discussing the move from analogue to digital, from old craft skills to new computer ones and a brilliant Sit In 4 Art session with Bob and Roberta Smith who want us all to contribute ideas about what policy makers should be doing for the arts. With the election just around corner, this will be great.

What We Look For will no doubt be a very popular series of session with the very lovely Bernstein & Andriulli agent Sam Summerskill and illustrator Serge Seidlitz discussing what both agents and artists look for in each other and Thames & Hudson commissioning editor Andrew Sanigar discussing the publishers relationship with design and illustration. For all those illustrators or graphic designers starting out I certainly wouldn’t want to miss that.

As ever cutting-edge collectives, contemporary graphic art galleries and studios will each curate a customised studio space where they will present new and existing work. This year’s line up including the lovely guys over at Blink Art, Supergraph all the way over from Australia, Wanna Date, Studio Fludd, Sope Studio, Risotto Studio, Pocko, Peckham Print Studio, Ohh Deer, Not Another Bill, new illustration collective Niles, Moth Collective, Lazy Oaf, who launched their FUN project at PMU last night, Italian studio La Tigre, Hato Press and Best will also be there featuring work by Shepard Fairey.

It starts Thursday 23rd April and goes on until the 4th May and all events are free and drop-in with festival entry. Check out the link below for more info. With festival passes at £17.50 that’s the next two weeks sorted.

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