Curator Claire Catteral gives us the lowdown on Pick Me Up's technicolour celebration of graphic arts.

Curator Claire Catteral gives us the lowdown on Pick Me Up's technicolour celebration of graphic arts.

Pick Me Up is fast becoming one of London’s most popular events and this might be due to its respect for illustration and graphics as art forms. But the event is also interactive and universal, which adds to its appeal. Pick Me Up offers a real insight into this creative world, allows visitors to get stuck in to making and chatting with the artists, and offers affordable art which is not out of reach or alienating.

The exhibition is made up of 3 rooms for the Pick Me Up Selects, which are individual illustrators, 5 rooms dedicated to collectives and galleries such as Beach London a long hall which houses the shows events, including workshops such as Letterproeftuin’s miniature printing project  and a downstairs area which is home to the shop. Pick Me Up is a colossal and immaculately curated show.

So what makes this huge endeavour so coherent? The first feature was undoubtedly colour. To be sure, there were a million different colours used, but the visual aftertaste was of fresh primaries and neons against bright whites. Pick Me Up pops. The next uniting feature was, of course, print. The dominant use of print created a smooth unison throughout. The only way we can describe it would be clean; reassuringly and satisfyingly clean. There’s something about the way printed inks mould themselves into paper, with sharp edges and pure colours as well as the endless, faultless lines.

Huck spoke to Claire Catterall, One of Pick Me Up’s curators, to give us an insight into the event and her enviable job.

Curating PMU is huge, how do you do it?
Curating PMU is very much a team effort. We come from different backgrounds but all share a love of art, design, illustration and the graphic arts in all their forms. We also have a wide network of PMU ‘friends and family’ whose opinions we canvas. Somehow it all comes together in the mix and makes sense.

Which past exhibitions are you most proud of curating?
Personally, I’ve curated a few shows that have been close to my heart. One was ‘Stealing Beauty’ at the ICA in the late 1990’s. I also loved curating The Village Fete at the V&A (for 10 years), and at Somerset House I think The shows I’ve most loved working on have been Showstudio (curated by Nick Knight and Penny Martin) and Isabella Blow (curated by Alistair O’Neill and Shonagh Marshall).

Do you have any advice for wannabe curators?
Love your subject and try and communicate that love to others; don’t be too didactic, make it personal!

What were you looking for in work in order for it to make the cut at PMU?
Pick Me Up is now in its fifth year, so it’s a challenge to keep everything feeling fresh and not the same as previous years’ shows. So, while we obviously search out the best and most exciting work around, we’re also conscious that we don’t choose things that we’ve done before or are too similar. We also look out for designers and illustrators that represent the diversity of graphic art today, from print making, fashion illustration and animation.

What are your picks of this years show?
We have more illustrators, collectives and galleries involved this year than ever before so that’s a very tricky question! But I think the 16 Selects are particularly strong this year.

Future projects that you are looking forward to?
We’re already looking forward to next year’s Pick Me Up!

Catch Pick Me Up graphic arts festival at Somerset House until Monday, May 5th.