HAPPENINGText: Peta Jenkin, Mark Macpherson

At the very first Pictoplasma Conference on Character Design, held in Berlin’s east in late October, character designers and enthusiasts alike converged for three days of lectures, workshops, screenings, and live performances. The grandiose Cafe Moskau provided the perfect venue for presentations, impromptu doodling, and creative exchange. Over 500 international designers and illustrators participated, presenting graffiti art, motion graphics, doll and puppet design, animated short films and everything in between.

In the upstairs lecture hall, designers and artists discussed their work and philosophies to an attentive audience. ‘Friends With You’ (US) set the scene for the lecture program with an engaging and highly entertaining presentation that included dancing, throwing out freebies to the audience, and general mayhem and laughter.

Friends With You toys

They projected a relaxed approach more concerned with having fun in every creative process, making no clear distinction between corporate and non-corporate clients. With a nastily cute collection of hand-sewn dolls and a swathe of other character-based projects in the form of installation and motion graphics, Friends With You presented a diverse and graphically sophisticated body of work that was highly appreciated by the audience.

Illustration work by Madreal/Derrick Hodgson

Also on Friday’s lecture program was Derrick Hodgson of the Canadian design group Madreal, who took viewers into his illustrated world of surreal characters that included ‘Grannys’, ‘Zombi-Farmers’, ‘Ditchpigs’ and ‘Tweeters’, inhabiting a smoked-out world of dub music and rural landscapes. Combining aspects of cartoon, graffiti art and contemporary design, his screen-printed graffiti pieces deal with ideas of technological advancement and its consequences, through the endless repetition of visual icons that whirl and reproduce like strange organisms from another world.

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