Festival celebrating illustrative artwork kicks off at West Bund

Fu Rong
Artists from around the world have been invited, including renowned US artist Steven Harrington, French minimalist DFT and self-learned Chinese illustrator Julia Long.
Fu Rong
Festival celebrating illustrative artwork kicks off at West Bund
Ti Gong

Poster of OPENFILE Contemporary Illustration Art Festival

An art festival named "OPENFILE" dedicated to illustrative art will raise the curtain on Friday at the West Bund Art Center in Shanghai. About 30 outstanding artists from around the world will gather together for the first time to present the unique charm of their illustrations.

Illustration is one of the most versatile art forms in today's visual culture. Today's illustrators go beyond caricatures and visual representations to observational statements about current trends and popular culture. Contemporary illustration is a new movement with illustrators drawing influence from graffiti, fashion, computer games and animation.

Artists from home and abroad are invited to attend the festival, including internationally renowned Los Angeles artist Steven Harrington, British contemporary artist Philip Colbert, French minimalist artist DFT, British graffiti artist Jon Burgerman, American artist Jayde Fish, Finnish artist Daniel Palillo, self-learned Chinese illustrator Julia Long, and Chinese illustration artist Jiayi Sun, among others.

Festival celebrating illustrative artwork kicks off at West Bund

Work by San Francisco illustrator Jayde Fish depicts Chinese-style gardens

"OPENFILE" hopes to replace the traditional art displaying style with a narrative one, bringing visual, audio, interactive and ambient experiences to the audience. Through static works, artistic installations, new media and other medium forms, "OPENFILE" fundamentally changes audiences' understanding of illustrative art, presenting a comprehensive and immersive art celebration for illustration lovers.

The site resembles a large warehouse containing various kinds of artwork, featuring large wooden containers and recyclable craft bags throughout the exhibition, showcasing its openness and originality in a vivid manner. As its name suggests, "OPENFILE" expects the audience to discover the "changeable stand-by state, and advance toward endless creation and imagination through the interchanging of life and art."

Six major themed areas will be set up for the audience to have an immersive experience: "Character Casts," where artists demonstrate their fascinating abilities to create characters; "Wonder Women," where artists explore "female power" in the new era in a unique manner; "World-Making," where artists take you on a tour to the 3D ultra-realistic digital world; "Sublime Stories," where creators paint the softest stories in their hearts through their brushes; "Fuzzy Future," where future explorers open up the age of healing; and "Lyrical Lines," where emotional lines construct poetic gardens in the artists' imaginations.

Festival celebrating illustrative artwork kicks off at West Bund

3D work by African-Belgian illustrator and animator Loulou Joao

Abundant offline activities and workshops will also be staged during the festival to renew the endless possibilities of illustrative art and encourage more people to begin their artistic creative journey. "OPENFILE" will join hands with ROSSO Art & Design Education to have a "tie-dye" workshop for the on-site audience, where the participants may customize their own tie-dye artwork and create unique designs. At the same time, Chinese artist Dandi Gu will host the workshop and lead the crowd as they visit the fascinating world of "tape painting." During the activity, the NO WAY BACK Tattoo Studio will host an illustration workshop and tattoo experience activity to expand the boundaries of illustrative arts to infinity.

Regarding the name "OPENFILE," its curator Anouchka van Driel explains, " it refers to the source file which is the term frequently used in the illustration and design industry; it's a piece of drawing paper of the new age where any extension is generated from. Just as its name, OPENFILE Contemporary Illustration Art Festival, on one hand, gathers the pieces of thought of creators and on the other hand has endless possibilities for extension. Illustration is never a kind of fine art. It's actually everywhere and also adds much fun to our daily lives. Through this festival, we hope to get more people to appreciate the beauty of illustration arts and pay attention to the neglected visual strength."

Festival celebrating illustrative artwork kicks off at West Bund

Work of French visual artist Jules Julien

The festival also collaborates with several well-known brands such as Li-Ning, Hennessy Classivm, Marvis and Smiley represented by FIPO China to present the public with inclusive illustration arts by bridging the gap between illustrative art and the commercial world, and explore the excitement of illustrative art with the guest artists.

Organized by V/COLLECTIVE, the OPENFILE Contemporary Illustration Art Festival will be held at Venue B1, West Bund Art Center, Shanghai from October 15 to 17, 2021. Tickets are 80 yuan per person and reservations are necessary.

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