8 brilliant character artists speaking at Pictoplasma 2018

From prolific Trump illustrator Edel Rodriguez to ustwo's behind Monument Valley 2 game, check out work from the artists speaking at this year’s festival.

One of the best conferences for character design and art is hitting the German capital once again, with a lineup of revered artists, illustrators, filmmakers and graphic or product designers sharing their tips. Pictoplasma 2018, the 14th year of the festival, will investigate how character design challenges our understanding of what makes a face, a face.

Alongside the conference, there will be screenings of latest animations, with the opportunity to win awards, and a chance for participants to create short, animated GIFs that portrays proud, strong characters as they look the viewer directly in the eye – with some selected to be presented at the festival as an installation. If you’re interested in entering a GIF, you’ll have the chance to win free festival and conference pass and more. This is the first year Pictoplasma has held this competition. Read the call for entry details here

The Pictoplasma 2018 conference will take place from May 2 to the 6th in Berlin. The first confirmed speakers of this year have been announced, so in this feature we check them out.

GIF: James Curran

We caught up with Edel this year following his prolific run of Trump-related magazine covers for the likes of TIME, and Der Spiegel.

The Cuban American artist's emotionally-charged illustrations began by depicting President Trump’s surprise election, and continued on to Trump’s responses following the Charlottesville riots involving Neo-Nazis, more recently his comments towards North Korea leader Kim Jong-un regarding nuclear strikes and his response to US gun laws following the Las Vegas shooting. Edel's illustrations have been circling online among millions of viewers and appeared on pickets in the Women’s March in Washington DC – and he’s constantly vocal on his own Twitter account.

Edel’s sharp, clear and colourful graphics resonated with not only Americans (as they searched for confirmation they weren’t alone with their fears) but the rest of the world as it looked on. His powerful – some might say courageous – artwork is a skill he’s been honing ever since learning history in high school.

Sophia is the niece of Moomin’s creator Tove Jansson (1914-2001). The Finn illustrator, writer and artist achieved worldwide fame through her Moomin stories, but her breadth of work expanded far beyond the characters, and was recently celebrated at an exhibition in the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

The Moomins continues on, with an upcoming TV animated series with beautiful concept art already released. Sophia is the chairman of the board and creative director of Moomin Characters Ltd. She keeps the heritage of her aunt alive, whether it be collaborations with artists in exhibitions, authors for the new books or animation fillmmakers.

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Victor mixes a traditional children’s book illustration style, with his trademark work featuring girls and boys wearing his face-masks – dark black holes as eyes and long red rubber noses.

The chilean artist now based in Los Angeles has had his work exhibited in galleries and museums in the US, Latin America and Europe as well as numerous publications.

Alberto is a man of many talents – writer, animator director, illustrator and cartoonist – and his surreal animated short films have garnered over 100 awards, such as the haunting Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (2015), Decorado (2016) and Unicorn Blood (2013). He recently finished his first feature Psiconautas, based on his dark coming-of-age graphic novel of the same name.

Ustwo Games is based in London – and it’s the mastermind behind the game Monument Valley 2. Danette is a 3D artists currently working as a level artist on the game, experimenting with human representation in the medium of 3D computer graphics. But she also enjoys making doodles, comics and writing up tutorials.

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Kevin, also known as Kékéflipnote, is a self-taught animator from France. His little bouncing cast of pigeons and foxes have attracted an audience, as well as his viral vignettes.

Charlotte is a British artist and illustrator who dabbles in ceramics, painting and animation. She uses bold colours and strong mark-making for a range of clients, including Penguin Books, Sony Music and Hermes.

She’s recently exhibited in group shows throughout London, including the V&A Museum, Red Bull Studios NY and the Barbican.

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Jim is another British illustrator and artist who works from his home studio in Hastings for clients such as MTV, Levis, Urban Outfitters and British Airways. Jim uses a psychedelic style for all kinds of mediums – everything from painting to film.

James has a background in video games, music videos, commercials and animated GIFs. The British animator and director regularly works for clients like Disney and Nike, but he’s gained fame over his ‘Gifathon’ projects – 30 GIFs in 30 days, based on his personal experiences living in cities New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo.