Revived and rebooted thanks to an injection of fresh, emerging talent, the 12
th Pictoplasma Conference championed a swathe of young creatives – showcasing the best character-led art, animation and illustration, with a strong focus on both traditional craft skills and mixed-media techniques.
Here we've picked out 10 artists and animators showcasing exceptional new work at Pictoplasma 2016 – starting with Merjin Hos – but first here's a flavour of what this year's festival was like.
Niels Kalk (NL)
“One of the nice things about working with collage is the element of surprise.”
Drawing on found paper and making hand-cut collages from vintage photo books, Berlin-based illustrator Niels Kalk creates surreal compositions of re-mixed body parts and animal anatomy, juxtaposed with everyday objects, urban environments or wild landscapes.
Through a series of studio photos showing collage pieces at various stages of development, the audience were also given a glimpse into the artist’s intuitive and immersive creative process – which often involves working on several collages at the same time before ‘pieces naturally connect’. This can often take several weeks – or in some cases years. Explaining how he makes an image, the artist spoke about how each of us are ‘drawn to particular colours, shapes and compositions,’ and for him, it is often less planning an simple intuition and play which guides his creative process.
Celebrating all things "flat and banal", her Character Walk exhibition The Daily and the Everyday brought together a collection of digital editorial illustrations that played with perspective and flattened spatiality – featuring characters in their daily lives, interacting with their mobiles or laptops, sitting behind computers or sipping coffee.
Speaking at the conference also afforded the illustrator an opportunity to look back at her work and it’s trajectory, referencing the challenges ahead and her interest in exploring 3D illustration in future. “Maybe time has come to leave the comfortable indoors and try different environments?”
Showing dynamic interplay of a person within space with a delicate sensibility and subtle palette, the video touched on themes of escapism and metamorphosis with fluid like movement and a shape-shifting female protagonist. A self-taught artist, Masonobu lives and works in Tokyo making music videos and ads for clients such as Uniqlo. His creative process involves illustrating each frame in Photoshop before compositing the animations in After Effects – which make for an absorbing, timeless experience.
Described by Réka as a film “about how the black panthers finally saw each other and met” the film makes use of playful colour to create atmosphere and tension; a process that Réka describes as a very intuitive: “I never really work with a colour script, but in this film I had to settle with some rules in change of colour and light, to keep the world consistent and underline the mood.”
Love, Réka began each animation on paper, making many drawings on post-its – and slowly evolving characters and environments through combining many little shapes and forms. Following a storyboard, she then moved on to making the animatic, which consisted of switching between drawing in Adobe Photoshop and timing in Premiere. Additional production happened through classic frame by frame animation, with the use of a digital tablet in TV Paint.
“After having more and more set colours for different landscapes or characters," she says. "It slowly starts to build up. It was a much more challenging process than I thought it would be.”
A narrative weaves throughout, with shapes, form and colour defining moments of feeling between the characters, as Réka adds, “If a specific shape is fitting the narrative, I will use it. There is so many different interesting forms in nature, that using only the form of a human would probably just feel a bit boring to me.”
As he delved into the creative process behind his design, Ugo told the audience that ‘first comes the atmosphere and then the décor’ as he shared various work in progress sketches. “I like more playing with the shapes, trying to twist realistic elements to see above its usual form. Deconstruction, cutting elements, like bodies or architecture to reveal something surprising is interesting to me.”
Having collaborated with friend and artist McBess frequently over the last few years, there are also little in-jokes and references here and there in his drawings which add an extra layer of humour. Recent commissions include an installation for Ruinart, the oldest French house of Champagne, wallpaper for La Maison Pierre Frey, and further collaborations with Hermès to be released in 2017.
As a commissioned artist, Aisha makes comics and illustrations for several international publications, but her true passion lies in self-publishing which she was attracted to as a way of her realiSing projects quickly.
“I’m quite impatient," she says. "I need to bring my characters into existence, self publishing allows this to happen.” Touring zinefests, and collaborating with her illustration collective also supports and inspires her practice, alongside her teaching role at the Kunsthochschule Kassel College of Fine Arts.
For her exhibition on this year’s Pictoplasma Character Walk, the illustrator exhibited a collection of images and small installation related to her latest comic book
Shit Is Real, and the strange universe that surrounds it. “Reality often seems as fragile as feeling. Especially in times when the worlds are shifting rapidly and you don’t know which you’re in or the role you’re playing within it.”
Using simple bold lines and bright colours to create humorous illustrations and GIFs that make light of sensitive issues, her work was applauded for it’s searingly honest depictions of women. “I try to play with their flaws and emotions with humour in a colourful and fun style,” she says.
More recently Julian was also one of this year’s
Pick Me Up Selects artists, exhibiting work alongside several emerging talents working with GIFs, including British illustrator Jack Sachs.
Julian introduced his portfolio to the audience, including a comic series for
Vice Magazine and a collaboration with Google Play and California Sunday Magazine, which saw him create a short animation for California Inspires Me, narrated by actor James Franco.
Towards the end of his talk, Julian also shared his recent social media experiment, where he invited his followers to collaborate with him on the creation of a new character over the course of several weeks, with playful results.
“I think its interesting letting people online get involved in the creative process,” Julian told the audience. “It matters to me to share things with people and open up the dialogue.”
An expanded version of the hotel room GIF while at Pictoplasma.
“There’s this knowledge that by running a Kickstarter you are extending a promise to the pledgers to deliver a product before it’s been made,” said Rex on the project, which is currently in development. “It comes with a certain pressure that I haven’t experienced before.”
Working at Media Molecule for several years as a lead designer, Rex was part of the development team on
Little Big Planet, as well as PlayStation Vita game Tearaway, a video game inspired by papercraft released in 2013. Knights and Bikes is the first game to be produced by independent studio Foam Sword, which Rex set up with game developer Moo Yu. Interestingly, the characters in the game are both female, a conscious decision which Rex believed would engage a larger audience.
“We felt it was important, not only to stretch our abilities but also to create a game that encouraged this idea of adventure,” he said.