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.
After 3 months away in South America I was looking forward to heading down to London town for the Pick Me Up (PMU) Private View. It was great to meet up with old faces and meet new ones. There's so much happening over the next few days try and get yourself down there. If you can't make it to the big smoke, fear not, I have put together some PMU highlights below and this year there are a series of digital events and social media hi-jacks for the office bound. I'll be tuning into the PMU Facebook and Twitter on 29th April as Birmingham boy Jack Hudson will be taking over to show us what life would be like if we were 2cm tall. Sounds interesting yes?
Pick Me Up Highlights
Brothers of the Stripe (BOTS)
As seen in It's Nice That andWRAP magazine Edward cites film maker Alejandro Jodorowsky as a key influence on his work. For this years Pick Me Up exhibition he is showcasing a collection of psychedelic citizens sporting very elaborate headgear.
Animaux Circus & Friends
Thundercat by Chloe Batchelor
Paul Blow represented by Handsome Frank
Outline Artists with Generation Press and GF Smith
Working with Generation Press and GF Smith, Outline Artists created a collection of unique digitally printed artworks for their space at Pick Me Up using bright vibrant paper stocks and special inks. Seen here is Kristjana Williams work digitally printed onto gold paper stock with white ink. Just beautiful.
Colourbox djing with Pete Fowler
And of course there's plenty more to see and get involved with.