Somerset House scraps Pick Me Up graphic design festival

Pick Me Up, an annual exhibition and fair which was set up in 2010 to showcase the work of emerging designers, will not run in 2017.

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Pick Me Up 2016 graphic identity, by Hato Studio and visitors

London’s Somerset House has decided to scrap annual graphic design festival Pick Me Up after seven years of running it.

Pick Me Up was the UK’s “first graphic arts festival”, according to the gallery, and focused on showcasing the work of young talent and graduates.

The festival was started 2010 with the aim of providing exposure for lesser known, emerging illustrators and designers alongside more established names.

It featured work across disciplines such as illustration, animation and 3D installation, and also held residency spaces such as galleries and studios alongside a programme of talks and workshops.

“Antithesis” of an art fair

It also aimed to be “the antithesis of a traditional art fair”, says the festival, and make graphic arts more accessible to a wider audience through its prime spot at Somerset House, and its fair which sold new work “at affordable prices”. Its workshops also taught visitors techniques and skills such as letterpress.

Somerset House, © Bob Broglia
Somerset House © Bob Broglia

“Focus on new exciting projects”

Claire Catterall, director of exhibitions at Somerset House, says the reason for the closure of the exhibition is so that the gallery can “focus on new projects”.

“I am immensely proud of Pick Me Up’s seven-year run and how it became an established event in the graphic art scene’s cultural calendar,” she says. “It is heartening to see how the public has become more and more engaged with illustration and graphic design, and so many wonderful festivals and events springing up around the UK since the first Pick Me Up in 2010.”

“We feel the time has come to focus on new projects which are equally energetic and exciting, and look forward to championing great work from new artistic communities through our public programme,” she adds.

Somerset House will continue to showcase graphic arts

Somerset House’s exhibition, talks and events programme will continue to feature graphic design, says Catterall, and the gallery hopes it can continue to work with the alumni of the Pick Me Up programme.

The 2016 festival saw designers showcase work around the theme of Utopia. The visual identity was designed in collaboration with visitors, as Hato Studio created an online tool which enabled people to submit their own letterforms to help create the branding.

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