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Say ‘Hello’ to HiFest

HiFest is the first annual Hastings Illustration Festival taking place on Saturday 6 December at Sussex Coast College Hastings. It will be a celebration of all things illustration, as well as a fun, interactive, family-friendly event with talks, screenings, workshops, competitions, live drawing and stalls. HOT’s Erica Smith asked fabulous Hastings-based illustrators and co-organisers of the event Nina Cosford and Ali Graham to tell us more.

Tell me about HiFest – whose idea was it? what is it all about?
HiFest came about after a group of local illustrators met up for a chat in a pub. We were gathered together by HOTRA’s Dick Edwards and David Woolfe who felt the need for the spotlight to be shone on the illustration scene down here in Hastings. Out of those meetings came some really interesting discussions on what could be done to help highlight the area as a fantastic hub for illustration and the creative industry in general. We were keen to extend the idea to a big one-day event up at The Atrium, Station Plaza – a space which would facilitate the ambitious plans we had in mind (workshops, seminars, loads of stalls, interactive content etc). We then formed an identity for the event and called it ‘HiFest’ (Hastings Illustration Festival). It was thanks to the meetings that we were prompted to give it a go.

There have been famous illustrators in Hastings for generations now – names like John Ryan who created Captain Pugwash, and Quentin Blake. But there seems to be a renaissance of new illustrators in town. Are you Hastings born and bred, if not, how long have you lived here and what ‘drew’ you to the town?
Ali grew up here and I moved here several years ago after graduating from Kingston University. We both love this area and the community spirit that is instantly felt walking down the street. There is a totally different pace here which allows time to focus on things and take a breather if needed, without the pressure of extortionate prices and over-crowded surroundings. I think it’s a great place for creatives and entrepreneurs, particularly those who are freelance or thinking about reestablishing themselves.

Who are your favourite illustrators of all time? – and your favourite locally based illustrators?
We would both probably have to sway towards Quentin Blake for this one…! His work is the epitome of childhood whim and we have both grown up with his illustrations around us. I remember meeting him when I was a student and he signed my battered copy of The Magic Finger – I was over the moon! I think his unwavering dedication to his work is so inspiring.

What are going to be the high-points of HiFest for you?
Just seeing it all come together I guess! It’s been in the making for the past six months so we’re really excited to see everyone from near and far all in one place. It’ll be good to raise money for our charity partner, Trekstock (who support young people with cancer) and to showcase not only local artists but also illustration students from Hastings, Brighton, Kingston and Camberwell. It’ll be a great chance for cross-overs and chats between illustrators, followers, those studying and those just curious.

More about HIFEST

There will be over 75 top guests in attendance including Quentin Blake, Rob Ryan, Gemma Correll and Lawrence Zeegen as well as offering showcase and selling space to students from Kingston, Brighton, Hastings and Camberwell.

More than 100 illustrators will be showcasing and selling work. There will be a wide choice of unique gifts (books, zines, prints, cards, t shirts, magazines etc.) just ahead of Christmas. Five Hastings-based illustrators have teamed up with Trekstock to raise money for the charity with their unique HI5 Christmas card project.

Talks and activities

Scott Garrett and Andrew (Griff) Griffin discuss the collaborative journey of their highly successful animated short Wishlist.

Internationally renowned reportage illustrator Olivier Kugler will present his latest project on Syrian refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan. Documenting their lives and circumstances during this recent time of unrest.

Lawrence Zeegen will talk about his new book ‘50 Years of Illustration’ which looks at contemporary illustration’s impact on design, while popular culture is investigated through introductory essays and profiles of leading practitioners, accompanied by examples of their greatest work.

‘Illustration Online’ – A panel of top illustrators will discuss how they have used social media platforms to develop personal projects, build audiences, gain the attention of clients and create highly successful careers in the world of illustration.

There will be a series of all-ages workshops throughout the day led by professional practitioners. A number of top illustrators will be invited to create live, improvised work – projected on a large screen for all to see. And you can have your portrait drawn by a ‘mystery illustrator’!

Plus you get the chance to win amazing illustration prizes including signed books, prints, stationary and magazine subscriptions in a charity raffle. With generous donations from Quentin Blake and Ralph Steadman.

HIFEST is at Sussex Coast College Hastings, Station Plaza and runs from (11am – 6pm) on Saturday 6 December. Tickets are: £3 adult / £2 student / under-16s free.

You can find out more via the links below:
HIFEST website
, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr

Posted 13:40 Wednesday, Dec 3, 2014 In: Visual Arts

Also in: Visual Arts

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