The best design, art & animation events in 2018: Exhibitions, conferences, festivals & more

Find inspiration, skills and the chance to meet some like-minded people.


We've started to bring together the best events and shows for creatives from around the UK – and a few major ones you might want to consider booking a trip to.

We've included exhibitions to inspire you, conferences to help build your skills and trade shows to learn about the latest technology that could help you push your work into new areas. We’ll be updating throughout the year as more events are announced, so keep checking back.

We kick off with 11 exhibitions, conferences, classes and festivals, starting with the VFX Festival in London.

VFX Festival

February 6-8
Shoreditch, London

If you love VFX or work in the industry, you’ll be sure to benefit from hearing tips from leading industry studios Framestore, The Mill, REWIND, Escape Studios, Blue Zoo and Cinesite. Learn about gaming, immersive technologies like VR, animation, motion graphics through talks, a series of discussions and demonstrations.

Find out more.


Quentin Blake: Arrows of Love

House of Illustration, London
February 14 – April 29

Who knew Quentin drew nudes? In this Valentine’s Day exhibition, Quentin’s 18 exuberant pencil drawings depict women avoiding or embracing Cupid’s arrow.

Find out more. 

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Anthony McCall: Solid Light Works

February 16 – June 3
Yorkshire, UK

This is a light exhibition hosted at the Hepworth Wakefield – the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 winner – based in Yorkshire.

Three solid light installations of Anthony McCall’s are part of the first UK exhibition of McCall’s work in over a decade.

McCall is best known for his large-scale, immersive sculptural light installations that incorporate the visitor and invite them to become active participants in the work. These ‘Solid Light Works’ use only projected light and a thin mist, yet they create physically powerful works that take on the appearance of sculptural forms in space.

Find out more.


Made in North Korea: Everyday Graphics from the DPRK

House of Illustration, London
February 23 – May 13

This unique exhibition looks at graphic design from North Korea in the form of posters, sweet wrappers and stamps collected by Nicholas Bonner, who has led tours to the country for 20 years.
The objects reveal a graphic style honed over decades in a closed society, giving an extra ordinary and rare insight into the everyday life of North Koreans.

Find out more. 


One Question Debates

February 27
Soho Hotel, London

One Question conference is launching a new event series – One Question Debates. As a sequence of in-depth industry-specific discussion, the new event series invites guests to a live 60-minute debate including Sony Music, Pepsi Co and communications agency 3monkeys, all answering the question: What does 'brand' really mean?

The first event will be held at the Soho Hotel with a cocktail reception. There will also be a 30-minute Q&A session with the panelists.

Find out more.

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Somewhere in Between Exhibition

March 8 – August 26
Wellcome Collection, London

Four contemporary artists collaborate with scientists to give shape to intangible ideas at this exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. Somewhere in Between brings together the work of Martina Amati, Daria Martin, Maria McKinney and John Walter, who explore ideas that are vital to human life – ideas about our senses, our sexual health, our bodies’ limitations and where our food comes from.

Find out more.


Reasons to

March 9
British Library, London

Reasons to is an international design conference for coders, designers, developers, illustrators, film makers and more. This year has another awesome line-up of speakers including design luminaries Jonathan Barnbrook (seen here), Rob Draper and illustrator Lizzie Mary Cullen. Past speakers also include Jon Burgerman, Nadieh Bremer and Erik Spiekermann, so you know you’ll be getting some top tips from the best.

It’s a good chance to meet other creatives, be inspired and challenged – and it will only take one day out of your schedule. Reasons to used to be based in Brighton, but now it’s moved up to London, hopefully making it more accessible to more people.

Find out more.


Hope to Nope: Graphics & Politics 2008-2018

March 28 – August 12
Design Museum, London

See how public engagement with politics has changed dramatically since 2008, and see how graphic design was crucial in dictating and reacting to major political moments of our time. And yes, this means expect to see everything from the 2008 financial crash to Brexit, the refugee crisis and US President Donald Trump's election.

Find out more.

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Camp Digital

May 2
Manchester, UK

Camp Digital is another UX design conference, led by digital UX agency, Sigma. This year’s keynote speakers include Professor Vikas Shah, chair of FutureEverything, and Dr. Sue Black OBE.
Professor Shah (seen here) will speak about his work at Thought Economics, and as well as the most pressing issues affecting the digital industry. The talk will include insights gathered from his interviews with some of the world’s leading thinkers and entrepreneurs, including Sir Richard Branson, Jack Welch, and will.i.am.

Other confirmed speakers so far include: Per Axbom, UX designer & coach; Katy Arnold of the Home Office; Gareth John and Eve Critchley of MIND; Gavin Elliott, DWP; Ella Fitzsimmons, a digital strategist; Molly Watt, an inclusive design and accessibility consultant, and Alastair Duggin of the Government Digital Service.

Find out more here.


Modigliani

Until April 2
Tate Modern, London

Artist Amedeo Modigliani developed a pictorial style of which met little success during his time, but his emotionally intense portraits and seductive nudes (police censored his only ever solo exhibition on the grounds of indecency) are now among the best loved paintings of the 20th century.

Find out more.


TYPO Berlin

May 17-19
House of World Cultures

As attenders of this conference last year, we can surely say you’ll learn a lot about how to make beautiful typography and lettering, as well as be inspired by some truly awesome designers and illustrators. Last year’s speaker line-up included Oliver Jeffers, House Industries and Debbie Millman, and this year it’s the likes of Toshi Omagari (Monotype) and Jonathan Key. 

Find out more.

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UX London

May 23-25
London

Bringing together London’s leading UX design experts, this three-day programme of workshops and talks should help you learn new skills to apply straight away. And it’s the conferences 10th year – so join the celebrations.

Find out more.


East London Comic & Arts Festival (ELCAF)

22-24 June
London

Applications to exhibit at ELCAF are now open until January 21, so if you’re a comic artist in the UK, make sure you get down to this festival. Publishers, collectives and individual artists can exhibit.

Find out more.


London Design Biennale

September 4-23
Somerset House, London

The highly-regarded annual festival brings together a host of international designers and innovators to showcase newly commissioned works in contemporary design, art and research in response to a theme – this year's being ‘Emotional States’. It’s always insightful to pop along to see what new work is being produced and the role of design in our collective futures.

Find out more.

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Adobe Max

October 15-17
Los Angeles, CA

This is the best conference to attend if you’re a creative using Adobe software and a mega fan of their products. Each year new Creative Cloud apps and updates are announced at Adobe Max, alongside Adobe’s ‘Sneaks’ – new exciting and experimental tools Adobe is working on that may or may not officially launch. Plus there’s an epic party that Adobe puts on at the end of the conference, and you get to explore Los Angeles – who’s complaining?

Find out more.


Journeys Drawn: Illustration from the Refugee Crisis

House of Illustration, London
November 9

An exhibition telling refugee stories both observed and experienced first-hand. Multi-media work by 13 contemporary illustrators will include Olivier Kugler’s portraits from Calais, George Butler’s reportage from Syria, animation by Majid Adin and manga by Asia Alfasi.

Find out more.