A Quick Q&A With London Illustration Fair Co-Founder Sam Bennett
We’re super excited to announce that we’ll be one of the many studios and creatives exhibiting at this year’s London Illustration Fair. As well as showing our extensive range of limited edition screen prints you can also expect to find t-shirts, sweats, tea towels and exciting new products from artists such as Kristyna Baczynski, Tony Riff and Hattie Stewart.
We’re pretty nosy here at 3rd Rail HQ so decided to quiz Sam Bennett, one of the co-founders of the fair about the origins of the event, what to expect from this year’s edition and all things illustration world.
Can you tell us a little about how the fair started?
Sam Bennett: Myself and Co-Founder, Ali Eland, started putting on pop-up exhibition with friends and local artists after we finished university. We both moved to London and with it, our events grew in size and ambition. After a couple of years focusing on other projects we got together in 2013 and over several beers The London Illustration Fair was born.
We launched the company back in November 2013 and after 4 years and 5 events, here we are about to launch our sixth. We’ve been on a magical journey over these past 4 years and really hope it continues.
When you first thought out the concept what were you hoping to achieve?
SB: With a passion for graphic arts, illustration and publishing, our aim was to showcase emerging artwork in a fun and inclusive setting. We wanted to join the dots between the new, the established and the hardcore fans, plus have loads of fun along the way!
The fair seems to grow every year, what new additions are you most excited about for 2016?
Each event we put on we try to up the ante, pushing our curatorial and artistic boundaries as well as pushing the envelope with the quality and variety of the exhibitors that we work with.
This year, we are celebrating our most international line-up to date. Look out for exhibitors Cool Machine, Illustrious, We Are Out of Office and featured artist Guido Iafigliola, to name a few, who has all travelled far and wide to join us.
Returning to Southbank’s majestic warehouse, Bargehouse, has meant that after some strategic curatorial Sudoku, we have extended the exhibition to include the fourth floor, where Arts Council England funded reportage illustrator, Nick Ellwood, will be showcasing large-scale portraits of the refugees he met while working at the Calais migrant camps in his piece, ‘Calais: Where Do We Go Next?’.
How do you find and select the featured artists?
SB: This is one of our favourite parts about The London Illustration Fair. Everywhere we go, we are always on the hunt for new talent and search high and low looking for our next featured artists. We travel a lot, visit the undergraduate degree exhibitions around the UK, jump into the newest pop-up shop and galleries around town and can’t resist
The team has different styles and tastes so it’s great to work together and present artists to each other. Passions are high and there is a great deal at stake so we fight it out and whoever presents their favourite artists in the most convincing way wins. We make decisions on instinct and listen to our heart.
This year’s featured artists are both diverse in style and their geographic location. We are delighted to be showcasing new sculptural work by Icelandic-born artists, Kristjana S Williams in the Bargehouse entrance space as well exhibiting a variety of her new and best-loved prints. We also have the phenomenal glitch multi-media artist, Guido Iafigliola, flying all the way from Uruguay to showcasing his large-scale digital photographs. Guido will also be performing live at the launch part on Thursday 1st December. Exciting doesn’t even cover it!
Finally if you had to describe the fair in 5 words what would they be?
SB: Progressive, spirited, engaging and very much a labour of love!