Pick Me Up illustration exhibition opens at Somerset House

The second Pick Me Up illustration exhibition opens to the public today, bringing together some of the best artists from around the world to London.

Pick Me Up debuted at Somerset House last year, offering a chance to see work by top illustrators and designers decked throughout the grand halls of the neo-classical building. The exhibition returns from March 17-27, and will feature an open studio from Anthony Burrill and showcases by collectives and gallerie including Concrete Hermit, Nobrow, Print Club London and Jaguar Shoes.

The exhibtion will also host a series of special events. Heavy Pencil will be bringing its mix of live art and music on Thursdays March 17 and 24. The 17th will see James Jarvis, Will Sweeney, Andrew Rae, Jim Stoten, Luke Best, Nick White, Gavin Lucas & Chief Chuckero -- while the 24th features Jiggery Pokery, Jess Bonham, Chrissie Macdonald, Andrew Rae, Jim Stoten, Luke Best, Nick White, Chief Chuckeroo, Curly Steve and Ben Fry.

You can also pick up 20 specially commissioned prints for £20 each from a series of what the organisers can 'up and coming artists' including Annelie Carlstrom, Kate Moross, McBess, Nigel Peak, Seiko Kato and Victo Ngai (we'd contend that some of these are too well-established to be called 'up and coming'). We've put a selection below.

Seiko Kato

Kate Moross


Nigel Peake

Stephanie Posavec

Victo Ngai

The exhibition is curated by the Somerset House team of Claire Catterall and Sarah Mann, plus industry insiders including author Liz Farrelly.

“We [were] looking for up-and-coming artists whose work inspires and excites us,” says co-curator Claire. “The line up is truly international; and the final mix is a finely-tuned balance of personality, style and flavour.

"We aim to make it a truthful and exciting overview of the new approaches and different styles that appear in illustration today."

Poster by Anthony Burrill

Looking at trends across the work on show, Liz says, “the divide between commercial and personal work is shrinking, as illustrators are being valued more and more for their individual vision. They're asked to do what they do best by commercial clients, and what those clients are buying into is their most personal vision.

"it is particularly interesting to see a "hands on" way of working going from strength to strength, with illustrators exploring various DIY methods and rejuvenating the concept of the small magazine, the artist's book, and the zine. These little portable "portals" into how an illustrator thinks, works, and sees the world are turning out to be fascinating objects in their own right -- and are cultivating new audiences for illustration.

"We've seen how the advertising industry loves illustration, these days, but it's also nice to see illustrators engaging directly with their own audiences, without being used as the tempting icing on the commercial cake."

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