The Pictoplasma festival in Berlin is a yearly conference and exhibition featuring the best character design work from around the globe. The headline line-up of artists for Pictoplasma 2013 in April has just been announced – with works spanning art, animation, graphic design, illustration, toy-making in both vinyl and plush forms on show.

Pictoplasma is best know for its festivals in Berlin and New York, though it also has a publishing arm that produces books, tarot cards and more. You can read our report from last year's Pictoplasma conference here.

Speakers at Pictoplasma 2013 include Jeff Soto from California; graphic illustrator Olimpia Zagnoli from Milan; urban artists duo Low Bros from Hamburg; illustratorGeneviève Gauckler from Paris; Felt Mistress, UK based stitcher of one-of-a-kind felt creatures (such as above); and doodler Jon Burgerman, indisputable master of doodling from Nottingham, currently residing in Brooklyn.

The organisers say that the 2013 festival will 'examine current trends in illustration, fine art and graphic design to emphasize the character's ability to evoke maximal empathy. This focus on a non-narrative and emotional connection with the viewer can be seen as an artistic attempt to hijack, subvert and re-invent the same strategies as those of the commercial mascot, logo or branding, as a virus inside the consumer based system and an ongoing battle for attention in the growing white noise of images.'

The Conference features talks and presentations by some of the most outstanding artists, illustrators and designers pushing the edge of contemporary character visualization. Among the speakers are pop surrealist Jeff Soto from California; graphic illustrator Olimpia Zagnoli from Milan; urban artists duo Low Bros from Hamburg; Illustration super star Geneviève Gauckler from Paris; Felt Mistress, UK based stitcher of one-of-a-kind felt creatures; and Jon Burgerman, indisputable master of doodling from Nottingham, currently residing in Brooklyn.

Pictoplasma 2013 will include lectures, talks, parties and Animation Programmes, the Character Walk an exhibition tour with over 20 project spaces. Local galleries and art venues will also be presenting solo shows tied to the festival. We also hope to see more unauthorised gigs.

The full programme will be announced in January. In the meantime you can pick up a pass for €150 instead of the usual €230 at berlin.pictoplasma.com/registration

Check out previous work of some of the artist exhibiting below, with bios provided by the chaps at Pictoplasma.

Anima Boutique (FI) is an animation studio based in Helsinki, Finland, focussed on design, characters and stories with charm. The studio produces content across the digital media field, working with brands and businesses, as well as creating original content. Their work includes advertising, illustration, character design, music videos, short films, virals, TV series production and apps, while the craft of animation and design always serves to engage the audience to a story, regardless of technique, media or demographic.

Jon Burgerman (UK) is one of the prominent key artists in the recent boom of modern day practitioners who traverse the disciplines of contemporary art, design, illustration and entrepreneurism. His work can be seen globally from gallery and bedroom walls to cinema and iPhone screens. A sense of British self-deprecation and modern-day anxiety imbues his work along with an enthusiasm for salad. Burgerman exhibits internationally and has shown work along side artists such as Banksy, Damien Hirst or Vivienne Westwood and has received a Cannes Lions Advertising award and two D&AD Silver award nominations.

Geneviève Gauckler (FR) is a French artist, illustrator and art director who is best known for her ever-evolving procession of lovable characters and Technicolor digital mashes. Her works are bright, fun and hectic – often combining symmetrical designs with soft-edged computer generated images laid against photographed backgrounds. She has exhibited all over the world and has had art commissioned by many advertising agencies and magazines. In recent years she has been dividing her time between advertising works and creating her own artwork, which she refers to in good humour as “silly and absurd”.

El Grand Chamaco (MX) is a young Illustrator based in Los Ramones, a municipality of the State of Nuevo Leon, in Mexico. He spent his childhood growing up with his grandfather, who guided him on the paths of drawing and painting. After a troublesome academic career he moved to Mexico City and confronted his Mexican identity on the search for a proper own voice as a creator. At the early age of 25 Grand Chamaco returned to the isolation of Los Ramones to study and perfect his style. Only recently, thanks to the arrival of the Internet to his town, has Grand Chamaco begun to share his talent with the World.

Nerd and Qbrk, known as Low Bros (DE), are illustrators and urban artists based in Berlin and Hamburg. As children the two brothers loved to draw and invented their first stories and fantasy worlds while playing in the countryside. Later they started to paint graffiti and co-founded “The Weird” collective. Their unique work stands out due to the intricate fusion of clean geometrical shapes, bold silhouettes, mystical depths and expressive colours. The unity between two- and three-dimensional layers as well as natural and urban elements is essential to their work, which portraits beautifully executed animal characters with a conflicting nature.

Felt Mistress AKA Louise Evans (UK) is a UK based stitcher who creates one-of-a-kind bespoke felt creatures. Originally trained in fashion design and millinery, in 1994 Louise started collaborating with her partner, illustrator and toy designer Jonathan Edwards, bringing many of the skills learnt through years of work as a couture dress maker to the world of character design. Meanwhile Felt Mistress has crafted hundreds and hundreds of unique soft sculptures, featured in countless exhibitions worldwide, and collaborated with a vast variety of artists including Pete Fowler, Ben Newman, Jon Knox and Jon Burgerman.

Ted Parker’s (BE) work displays extreme joy in the most strange and comical of situations with his disturbingly happy dot-dot-dot-half-circle faces.
Dogs will smoke and dolphins will drink and lions will play basketball in this animal enthusiast’s universe. His work puts a smile on your face. You see his work framed on the walls of your local coffee bar or printed in The New York Times.

Jeff Soto (USA) is an artist, illustrator and muralist who exhibits in galleries and museums around the world. His distinct colour palette, subject matter and technique resonate with a growing audience and bridge the gap between Pop Surrealism and street art. Through striking visual imagery, Soto communicates profound visions and fears, nostalgia of his youth, and themes of love, lust, and hope. Recurring characters are futurist robots, sculls, machines with egg-shaped capsules, and mystical creatures in pastoral settings. Inspired by youthful nostalgia, nature, graffiti, hip-hop and popular culture, his bold, representational work is simultaneously accessible and stimulating.

Andrea Wan (HK/CAN) is a visual artist and illustrator born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver. At an early age, she enjoyed improvising stories about animals and recording them onto cassette tapes. With a passion in story telling, she studied at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, where she graduated with a degree in Film and Integrated Media. She went on to study in Denmark, where she practiced narrative image making inspired by her relationship to people and places. Her surrealist ink paintings Emily Carr University been exhibited worldwide and featured in numerous publications, such as The New York Times, Nylon and Nobrow.

Olimpia Zagnoli (IT) is a young illustrator from Milan, Italy. Inspired by graphic artists from the 60s and 70s such as Paul Rand, Saul Bass and Max Huber, her style is characterised by clean graphics, bold colours and a dash of retro taste. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers, as book covers and posters, and presented in galleries around Europe and the US. The list of her clients includes The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Yale University, Taschen, Clinique and many more. She herself states that when she gets old, she wants to be a rockstar.