Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 16.33.19Around 2,000 fans and art lovers flocked to see their favourite illustrators, cartoonists and artists, as the Festival of Illustration opening weekend got underway in Hartlepool, hosted by Cleveland College of Art & Design (CCAD).

In a celebration of the illustrative arts, the Festival saw world-renowned artists from all over the globe showcase a selection of their works at an exhibition, including many original pieces not viewed by the public before now.

Over 250 works of art from as far back as the 1950s and 60s are now on display at the Hartlepool Art Gallery, which is open until 4 July. The exhibition proved to be a popular attraction, as visitors viewed illustrations from Hartlepool-born artist Keith Robson, who worked for DC Comics, Marvel artist John McCrea, Ralph Steadman, Chris Riddell and Dave McKean, amongst others.

Illustrator Tom Newell, who spoke alongside fifteen other speakers including Chris Riddell at the Festival and is exhibiting works at the exhibition, said: “I was really blown away by the exhibition and the Festival, especially meeting other artists, students and visitors. The Festival is a really positive event for the College students and the artists, as well as Hartlepool and the north east generally. There is such a great range of illustrations, and having my work alongside artists that I have grown up with and been inspired by, such as the Beano and 2000AD, is great.”

As part of the Festival, a symposium examined illustration through the ages, particularly the silver age of illustration and the industry today, as well as the impact of traditional versus digital methods. Illustrator and designer Dan Mumford, who produces works for clients such as Nike and designs record covers for the music industry, said: “The Festival offers a great chance to see some fantastic work and meet lots of people old and new. I think it’s always important to be displaying new talent and old talent equally. More than anything I think younger artists need more outlets and opportunities to see work and hear from their contemporaries. And the festival is exactly that!

The Festival fun continued with artists from The Brothers of The Stripe (BOTS) taking part in a live ‘drawing wall’, with visitors and fans eagerly watching on and taking part. Illustrator Joel Millerchip, a member of BOTS collective, said: “This is not just a wonderful event for the area but for as a whole, as it attracts artists from every style, from some of the masters to the newer contemporary artists. It is also great for the CCAD University and the students, as they can come and study the works, and it shows awareness of illustration as a career and its commercial benefits, rather than people thinking they are just ‘drawings’. Illustration is part of everything, from children’s books to animation and advertising. At the exhibition, there are so many pieces of work to see and enjoy – storybooks, fashion illustrations and comic books – and so many different styles, which is the beauty of the illustration.”

Exhibition visitor David Callaghan, originally from Hartlepool and now living in Durham, said: “I used to visit the art gallery every so often, as I am interested in art. This is a very unusual and different style of art for me but it is really good to see the exhibition here and great for the area. The excellent drawings from Keith Robson are really good and so ‘lifelike’ in a comic way.”

Chevie Eckford, 18, from Ingleby Barwick in Stockton is studying art and design Level 3 at the College’s Green Lane campus in Middlesbrough. She said: “I really enjoyed the modern illustrative art, it is so detailed. As I am going on to study illustration and contemporary art, it is really inspiring.”