Day two of the Pictoplasma Character Walk and we find ourselves jumping across the city from Mitte to Kreuzberg and back again - there are exhibitions from over 1000 international artists to be found in all quarters of Berlin. Settling in Kreuzberg we find a small gallery space with a solitary exhibition of hand cut paper flowers, plants and tropical birds suspended from the ceiling.
Diana Beltran Herrera
Bold, bright and colourful this has to be my favourite exhibition of the lot created by Columbian artist Diana Beltran Herrera. Despite describing her work "as an exploration of the chillingly disengaged relationships between humans and nature" I found it to be pleasing to the eye, beautiful, incredibly detailed and exuding positivity.
The Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery
Wondering through streets lined by ornate and decorative pastels; a warm breeze puts a spring in our step as we head to the Pictoplasma Portrait Gallery at Kaufhaus Jandorf, BrunnenStrase 19-21.
Guided through into what appears to be an old derelict building lit by florescent pinks and blues characters of all shapes and sizes, good and bad fight for attention across walls, walkways, floors, on videos, animations and even in shopping trolleys.
I join in with the "inflationary trend for self-portraits" as I stand in front of the #CharacterSelfies wall.
The Pictoplasma White Noise Exhibition first seen in Madrid Spain also makes an appearance.
Exploding Head Extinct Animal Illustrations
Continuing at the Portrait Gallery I discovered an artist called Andrea Wan, born in Hong Kong, raised in Vancouver she now lives in Berlin.
With only one delicate watercolour piece on display depicting a relaxed but fractured head from which animals escape I was intrigued to find out more. After a quick Google search I found an entire series of Exploding Head Extinct Animals Illustrations. Have a look for yourself on Andrea Wan's blog.
Moving from Hong Kong to Japan I first discovered Kimiaki Yaegashi through Kuvva (wallpapers for iphone and mac) Kimiaki's pop surreal images had adorned my desktop for weeks prior to seeing his first ever solo exhibition 'Octagon' at the Panatom Gallery.
In the exhibition he explores the number eight which is considered lucky in Japanese culture.
Friendly Turtles and other Animals
On route back to our hotel we find ourselves in a park where water fountains and stair ways are adorned by a strange yet inviting collection of sculptured animals.
As we walk through the columns watched by white stone deer, lions, chimps, frogs and pups it feels like a scene from Alice in Wonderland captured and set in stone. It seems Berlin's mysterious side begins to unveil herself as we prepare for a visit to the The Berlin Wall.
The East Side Gallery (Berlin Wall)
As a tourist there is nothing that can prepare you for the effect history plays on your time in the ever evolving city of Berlin.
Despite the modernist architecture and liberal attitudes of the city folk history seeps through every crack, is round every corner biting at your heels.
Every time I visit the East Side Gallery on Mühlenstraße I´m surprised by the strange combination of moving powerful messages and artwork coupled with the free flowing drinks and party atmosphere just the other side of The Wall.
A friend tells me there are currently protests taking place across the city to save The Wall from demolition. Certain areas look to remove it in the name of progress, while others wish to preserve it in the hope it will serve as a reminder of the not so distant past.
Urban Spree Birthday Bash
Finally we set off into the night to the grand finale a special 10th anniversary party at Urban Spree a graffiti laden arts venue housing a gallery, theater, outdoor bar and cinema.
Taking in the Academy All Stars Exhibition in the gallery space, schmoozing with the elite of the illustration world and enjoying a bizarre live performance by Big Butter (US) the duo of Tim Biskup and his brother Mike our time in Berlin was sadly drawing to a close.
Berlin is a fantastic city with a huge amount of greenery, open park land, rivers that run throughout, fantastic architecture and an incredible history. This is my fourth time in the city and I know there is still so much more to discover so we've already planned to go back next Summer for a lazy wine fueled boat tour of the city.
Being an avid Pictoplasma fan and follower since my first Character Design and Animation Conference in 2006 I was just a little bit excited to find out how founders Peter and Lars had planned to celebrate Pictoplasma's 10 year anniversary. After cutting short our trip to South America I hadn't expected to be able to join the character laden celebrations but as time was to tell I managed to get a plane and headed straight to Berlin with my sights firmly set on seeing the Pictoplasma Character Walk exhibitions.
From our base in Alexanderplatz armed only with a character walk map and sadly no conference ticket to hand I explored the beautiful city of Berlin seeking out all 14 of the Pictoplasma exhibition venues. Encountering a plethora of crazy characters in various forms along the way I slowly uncovered new loves while rediscovering old ones.
Brecht Vandenbroucke's dynamic scenes are colourfully hand painted using bright bold gouache providing a witty commentary on modern day society and our reliance on social media and technology. These dark and often humorous panels were a surprise break from the norm.
Moving across the city to the heart of Mitte we climbed the graffiti laden corridors to the Neurotitan Gallery.
The Neurotitan Gallery is where the last Inkygoodness Character Totem exhibition was held in 2011.
Packed to the rafters with old coffee table favourites to freshly pressed self published gems, this gallery and book store is a comic and art book collectors dream. Outside in the courtyard tourists pile into the entrance at the Neurotitan Gallery. Bringing the Mexican sunshine to Berlin El Grand Chamaco characterises the traditional Mexican Piñata. Struggling with his emotions this fun filled piñata doesn't know if he enjoys being battered for entertainments sake. He wears his emotions on his hands where his anger and happiness are clearly shown. Commissioned by the team at Hickies each artist was invited to customise a piece of footwear. Hickies produce a groundbreaking elastic lacing system turning any shoe into a slip on. Seeing the characters and stories each artist came up with Hickies fell in love with the idea of producing not only revolutionary lace ups but a unique series of character based shoe accessories. Through the magic of 3D printing the characters to adorn your feet were born and available for purchase.
Moving on and around the city we spotted this huge wall mural offering some very respectable advice.
"Be yourself. Except if you're a unicorn, then be a unicorn."
Part two of the Pictoplasma blog follows with the Portrait Gallery, the Berlin Wall and much much more.
We travelled the length and breadth of Perú for three months recording our journey on the Travel with Turton travel blog. Arthur Salt took care of the words and I created the images. I've started working on some travel sketches to record the time we spent there, the people we met on the way and the sights we saw on the road.
'Pardo' your not so friendly neighbourhood Rottweiler is a great character to draw. He would insist on sitting directly outside Mario's front door so each visit would entail a wrestle with Pardo to get past.
Struggling to stay awake this old guy was sat on a bench in Cusco in the San Blas region.
'Lima Love' is a recognisable graffiti tag found in subtle spots all over the city of Lima. I'm looking forward to getting some pure Peruvian colours on this, it's got to be neon all the way. I will be working on more travel sketches inspired by our time in Perú over the coming weeks and will be posting them up on my Instagram profile as time goes on.
I arrived in Piura, Peru last week. In the north of the country we're close to the equator and it's Summer. That means 35 degree heat, scorching sun and a river swarming with malaria ridden mosquitoes. Luckily our hotel had air con, sound proofing, a hot shower and a pool!
This was welcome luxury as we were due to start our volunteering work at the Hogar Anita Goulden a home for children with mental and physical disabilities and knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park. The Hogar is the only one of it's kind in north Perú and is completely funded by British charity the Anita Goulden Trust.
After a few days getting to know the staff and children, helping out around the home and assisting with therapy sessions we got the go ahead to paint a wall mural in the therapy area. As the children mainly exercise using play mats on the floor the artwork needed to be low lying.
I designed the mural so all the detail remained as close to the floor as possible to ensure the children get the best view point. As many of them don't get the chance to explore outside very often I decided to paint an outdoor scene characterising all the elements from smiley trees to happy clouds and angry birds.
With some help from my partner in crime we drew, masked, painted and risked our lives for five hours in the dangerous and sweltering Mercado Central trying to buy emulsion paint. Eventually we managed to complete 6 meters of wall in five days.
So finally this Saturday we celebrated with the staff and children with a small fiesta, chinking plastic cups of cherryade and eating cake to latino tunes. We're both super pleased to have had the opportunity to meet the children and staff at the Hogar Anita Goulden and hope the mural brightens and entertains for many years to come. Find out more about our adventures in Perú over at the Travel with Turton travel blog.
It's been busy over the last couple of months, I've been working on some exciting collaborations, new commissions, this new website and, perhaps most importantly, on my travel plans to South America! Before I delve into that, here on my brand new site you’ll find an updated portfolio packed to the brim with my latest work and recent news. The idea is to streamline my illustration content making it easier for me to manage (while I'm away) and for you to find and stay up to date with my portfolio and blog in one place.
The new website is fully responsive so you can view it ‘on the go’ on any device. Leave me a reply and let me know what you think?
I've been asked to get involved with an interactive editorial illustration iPad App called 'New Wave'. Due for release in early 2014 by Republic Press I'm itching to see the final result and will keep you posted on the final release dates. Over the Autumn I also worked on a collaboration for the Eye Candy Festival in Birmingham which launched at the end of October. I was commissioned to produce some large scale pieces for feature across one of Birmingham’s last surviving derelict Victorian buildings – Unity House. You can see and read more about the Unity House Illustrations here.
Travel with Turton
So for more exciting news…I will start 2014 with a year long trip to Peru! Having finally bitten the bullet, quit my job, rented my house, sold my car, furniture and imac I will be spending the next year learning Spanish, getting to know family and volunteering at a Children's Charity. I plan to document my travels and journey across South America over at travelwithturton.com a travel blog covering design, photography, illustration, fashion and food. The latest interview is with Hass and Hahn of Favela Painting, they talk about their most recent Kickstarter project to raise $100,000 to paint an entire hillside favela in Rio de Jenero, Brazil.
Finally - staying in touch
While I'm away and as long as I have a decent wi-fi connection I'll be blogging on travelwithturton.com and updating this site with hand drawn sketches and illustrations of my adventures. You can follow me on twitter, facebook, flickr, Google+ and instagram too, links are at the top of the site, so be sure to say ‘hi’. Wishing everyone a good New Year I look forward to sharing my South American adventures with you in 2014!