In this story, we've brought together the best events and shows for creatives from around the UK – and a few major ones you might want to consider booking a trip to. We've included the best exhibitions to inspire you, conferences to help build your skills and trade shows to learn about the latest technology that could help you push your work into new areas.
We kick off with 7 exhibitions and conferences that are on right now – followed up a selection of the best forthcoming events and shows that you're going to want to book in advance and plan for.
Science Museum, London Until September 3
The Science Museum's latest exhibition offers both visual inspiration from 500 years of robots – and a chance to see how modern synthetic humanoids are impacting our world.
The exhibition begins by exploring the history of robots whose purpose was to exist within artforms – from early religious automata and a beautiful clockwork swan to a life-sized Maria from
Metropolis' (shown) and even a Terminator. From here, it explores how real robots can see, move and even track you around the room.
It finishes with a hall of modern robots, some of which you can interact with – including the utterly charming 'child robot' Pepper, Honda's Asimo, and Zeno R25 (which mimics your expressions). What stays in your mind the most after you leave is the robot baby that's stuck to a wall at the exhibition's entrance – which is incredibly lifelike and a study in creepiness.
House of Illustration, London
Until April 30
is an exhibition curated by Sir Quentin Blake and others, which pays homage to an old friend of his, Linda Kitson, who happens to be the first officially commissioned female war artist. Linda Kitson’s line drawings record landmarks moments in British history, including when the BBC turned 50 and –probably her most famous project – eyewitness reportage from the Falklands War. Linda Kitson: Drawing and Projects
The warm words of Quentin Blake - who has known Linda since she was a student at the Royal College of Art in 1971 - describe her work from commissions for magazines in the 1970s, to her drawings for The Times when it was located on Fleet Street before the Wapping Dispute, through to her current digital landscapes. Although Quentin's and Linda’s drawing styles are similar, he draws from memory but she prefers to draw what’s in front of her.
House of Illustration, London Until May 14
Jo Brocklehurst’s punk portraits, figurative paintings from the 1980s and live drawings - capturing subcultures in London, Berlin and New York in the late 20
th century - will be displayed in her Nobodies & Sombodies exhibition.
Jo Brocklehurst documented performers, artists and designers in theatres, jazz clubs and opera houses of the 1980s and 1990s who sought freedom of expression.
Although some of Jo’s iconic portraits are part of the permanent collection in the V&A Museum, this exhibition at the House of Illustration will show works that have never been exhibited before.
The exhibition will feature her best known portraits from the 1980s that offer a female perspective on punk, as well as her live drawings which she worked up overnight for publication in the next day’s
Berliner Zeitung newspaper.
It will also feature paintings from Brocklehurst’s final installation – a Victorian tearoom in her studio covered in interpretations of
Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Buy tickets to the exhibition
Image: Drawing for the
London Until April 30
Luxembourg & Dayan will present The Ends of Collage, which unfolds in two parts across the gallery’s London and New York spaces.
The exhibition will showcase early experiments of collage making from the first decades of the 20
Following a launch in New York, the exhibition in London will follow the medium’s pursuit of fantastic worlds, its relationship with the domestic sphere, its insistence on disfiguring and dismembering the human body and its violent relationship with its own sources of materials and inspirations.
Whitechapel Gallery, London Until May 14
Whitechapel Gallery is celebrating Britain's ‘godfather of Pop Art’ - Eduardo Paolozzi - with an exhibition that focuses on his radical explorations of material and form, showing rarely exhibited drawings, maquette and sculptures.
You can see Paolozzi’s work all over London - including mosaics at Tottenham Court Road Station and the Blake Newton sculpture at the British Library. He was revered as one of the most innovative British artists of the 20th century.
The exhibition will be presented in four sections, containing more than 250 works spanning five decades his career - including textile designs from his time as a tutor in post-war Europe and aluminium sculptures from the 1960s.
Check out ticket prices and more information
The Museum of Brands, London Until June 25
Showcasing 10 well-known television ads from the last 50 years, this exhibition at The Museum of Brands focuses on how gender stereotypes in advertising have changed.
The run of events will begin on International Women’s Day, followed by talks on gender in advertising and a special Mother’s Day event.
There will also be a commissioned short film launched called
10 from 50: Changing Trends of Female Representation in TV Commercials. Advertising campaigns featured in the film include the Fairy Liquid advertisement from the 60s showing a mother and daughter doing dishes, the P&G's Always Like a Girl (2004) and Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign showing a diverse range of women playing sport.
Find out more at the
Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising.
The Old Truman Brewery, London April 25-27
D&AD Festival brings leading creatives from across the industry, in a three-day conference of talks, fringe events, workshops and parties.
Headline speakers this year include Stefan Sagmeister from design agency Sagmeister&Walsh, Yancey Strickler from Kickstarter, Anna Higgs from NOWNESS, Radio DJ Zane Lowe from Beats 1, and Erik Kessels from communications agency KesselsKramer in Amsterdam.
For the first time this year the D&AD Awards Ceremony will be held as the final event on Thursday evening.
Each day of the conference will be split into individual topics, with the first day responding to social issues, such as creating a sustainable future.
Wednesday will cover shifts in technology in the sector, and what leading creatives are doing to adapt to transformation. The final day covers how designers and creators craft big ideas.
Learn from some of the best advertising and design gurus, such as Sir Martin Sorrell and Sir Paul Smith, and meet fresh talent from D&AD New Blood, and network with design agencies.
Get tickets and find out more
London April 27-May 6
The Sci-Fi London Film Festival is an incredible 10 days filled with everything sic-fi related - including film, live music, VR shorts, world and UK premieres and regular classic cult events such as the 48 hour film challenge.
Special events also include a screenwriting workshop, a dystopian VR experience and even a cosplay for dogs event.
There is so much going on in this festival, it’s just too much to mention it all here, so check up the line-up at the
Sci-Fi London festival website.
Berlin May 10-14
Pictoplasma Conference takes over the German city to bring together international artists, illustrators, designers and filmmakers to exchange strategy and aesthetics.
International creators and producers meet for a central conference to exchange strategies, while the wider festival showcases latest trends in character design and art, offering exhibitions throughout the city to experience original works and character craftsmanship.
Confirmed conference speakers include Hornet animator Eran Hilleli, Irish illustrator Chris Haughton and Sean Charmatz. See their work in
our feature of 2017's best character artists.
You can register for Pictoplasma Conference in Berlin
London May 16
This year's shortlist for the
V&A Illustration Awards has been announced, and it’s definitely worth popping along to the awards ceremony to see the amazing, inspirational talent of fellow practitioners. The winning artworks will also be on display outside the V&A’s National Art Library from May 17 until August 20.
There are three categories for published illustration - Book Cover, Book Illustration and Editorial Illustration - as well as the Student Illustrator of the Year prize for unpublished work. This year artwork rangwa from the storytelling of Beatriz Lostale Seijo’s
The Odyssey to A. Richard Allen’s Trump Wave – a cheeky homage to Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa (as seen here). You can check out the full shortlist here.
For more noteworthy awards, check out our feature of the
best design, illustration, animation and VFX awards of 2017.
London May 24-26
Describing itself as “three days of inspiration for UX designers”, UX London brings together an international group of industry leaders to lead workshops and talks.
Each day of the conference focuses on a different area of UX, allowing you either attend the entire conference or jump in and out as you please.
The first day will focus on digital product design, the second on the field of service design, and the last day investigates new platforms and modes of interaction.
London May 26-28
Although this London
audio visual performing arts festival isn’t strictly design or illustration, it explores exciting fresh genres of digital theatre, projection mapping, visual music and creative coding through a collection of live performances and cinema.
Alongside experimenting the overlapping fields of audio visual art and culture, the programme features worships, talks, panel discussions and of course, networking.
Folkestone June 9
Nudgestock is an oddity – but is well worth attending if you're interested in how psychology underpins design, UX and branding. Created by ad agency offshoot Oglivy Change, it brings together a diverse set speakers around behavioural economics – the social science of how and why people make decisions over their lives from choosing between brands to deciding whether to see a doctor. Much doesn't seem directly linked to the creative industries – but you'll learn a lot about how people think (which really affects how they respond to your work).
Speakers this year include Meik Wiking, CEO of the The Happiness Research Institute of Copenhagen and author of the very popular book
Little Book of Hygge, and – from the dark side of psychology – Vote Leave campaign director Dominic Cummings (who should be interesting to hear from the day after the hastily called general election).
You can watch some of the talks from last year's Nudgestock in our story
5 Brilliant Talks on how Psychology Affects Design, UX, Branding, Marketing and Advertising.
London June 16-18
East London Comics & Arts Festival started in 2012 to celebrate works in comics and illustration, and now it attracts around 3,000 people each year, as the mediums move back into mainstream focus.
This year expect to see work from publishers, collectives and small press including Nous Vous, Yukai Du (image), Cachete Jack and Faber & Faber among upcoming talent.
The festival acts not only as a place for practitioners to have their work spotted, but an invitation to engage with international guest artists through talks, exhibitions, masterclasses and workshops.
Check out the full final selection of artists and the programme here. The first round of programmed tickets will be available from April 11.
SVA Chelsea Gallery, New York September 30 - November 4
Some of you may have seen illustrator
Christoph Niemann's episode on new Netflix design series Abstract, or follow his cheeky Instagram account, but SVA Chelsea Gallery will be showcasing never-before-seen work from his personal collection, including illustrations, magazine covers, animations and digital works in Chelsea College’s upcoming Master Series.
The Master Series: Christoph Riemann will celebrate the illustrator’s talent to capture the humorous side of life with only a few strokes. Recently, Christoph has released interactive apps Chomp and Petting Zoo, augmented reality covers for The New Yorker’s digital editions and a recent 360-degree illustrated essay for The New York Times on his visit to the Korean Demilitarised Zone.
The German-born illustrator worked for Google and the MOMA as well as a regular contributor to The New York Times. He’s published books such as Words, a visual dictionary for children, and Sunday Sketching.
The Master Series is a prestigious award and exhibition honouring visual communicators. Names of past Master Series include Massimo Vifnelli and Heinz Edelman.
Bristol October 6-7
This is a
brand new design festival making its way to Bristol this October, with headline speakers including Snask (in this image), Anthony Burrill and Wilfrid Wood.
The two-day festival will include creatives from a range of disciplines sharing stories, anecdotes and career advice, how to tackle creative briefs, finding inspiration and how to keep yourself stimulated outside of commercial work. Other speakers include
Trapped in Suburbia, Brendan Dawes and Gavin Strange.
The second day will be where festival-goers can participate in a number of workshops led by creatives held in venues across the city.
Koto, James Greenfield, says London is “guilty of dominating the design scene of the UK”, but with events like this, “the tide is changing”.
Keep an eye out for more speakers to be announced in the coming weeks.
Tickets go on sale at 10am on May 5, starting at £55 for a student. Something Good is organised by thread - a community interest company that organises creative events in Bristol.
Las Vegas, California October 16-20
MAX calls itself the "world's premier creativity conference". We'll happily join it in blowing its trumpet: designers, photographers, coders, illustrators, videomakers and developers converge to listen to inspiring speakers (this year's are yet to be announced, but last year included
Quentin Taratino and The Simpson's David Silverman), as well as sharpen their skills in sessions, labs and workshops.
You also might be among some of the first in the world to hear Adobe's big news. Read our feature on
Adobe's Project Felix app & Adobe XD for Windows, which was announced at Adobe Max 2017.
You can preregister for Adobe Max 2017
Dulwich Picture Gallery From October 25
Dulwich Picture Gallery has already announced an exhibition scheduled for Octobercelebrating the works of Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomin characters and books.
The exhibition will showcase 150 works from Jansson’s life (1914-2001), including graphic illustration and paintings relatively unseen outside her home country of Finland.
Although Jasson received unprecedented success of the Moomin characters, as an artist and writer she didn’t want them to limit her freedom. The exhibition will showcase a large collection of self-portraits and paintings never seen before in the UK.
Tickets go on sale from February 6. The exhibition begins on October 25 and runs until January.
Image credits: (Top) Tove Jansson, Lynx Boa (Self-Portrait), 1974, Oil, 73 x 60.5 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis.
(Bottom) Tove Jansson, Illustration for the book Moominland Midwinter, c. 1956, scrape drawing on cardboard, 13 x 18,5 cm, Private Collection. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Hannu Aaltonen.
Tate Modern September 2018
A display of Picasso’s work from 1932 will be held in London and Paris – a “once in a lifetime” exhibition showcasing the pivotal year in Picasso’s life.
More than 100 works will be exhibited, including the famous Le Rêve (The Dream) as seen here – a desire-filled painting of Picasso’s young lover Marie- Thérèse Walter – and Juene Fille Devant un Miroir (Girl Before a Mirror), loaned from the Moma in New York.
It will be the first solo exhibition of Picasso’s work to be held in the Tate Modern in London. It will also be held at the Musee National-Picasso in Paris.
In 1932 Picasso cemented his famed status as the world’s most influential artist – a year where some of his best work was produced and where he staged his first retrospective. It was also a year where his love for Walter flourished and paintings reflecting this followed.
The show will also feature realist portraits Picasso made of his first wife and their son.
It’s expected to a rare chance to see the famous Picasso paintings together in on exhibition, which has been supported by the Picasso family, and with “stellar loans” from public and private collections.