Big Art Shortlist

After receiving applications from so many amazing, talented artists and designers within our creative community, the votes are in, and we have chosen our winning artist for Printworks Big Art.

Voting is now CLOSED – Winner announced in February!

Printworks Big Art is our larger than life art installation in partnership with Wild in Art, (the great minds behind Bee in the City), and is being commissioned alongside our creative work to launch Europe’s Largest Digital Ceiling.

Check out the amazing top 5 shortlisted artists below:

Alex Sylt


Based in central Manchester, Alex has been an illustrator for over 10 years. He is the owner & operator of a screen-printing studio in Ancoats where running this business has directly influenced the way he illustrates.

One of the hallmarks of Alex’s design style is incredibly detailed scenes, focusing on large designs that require an attention to detail and favouring strikingly bold colours within a minimal palette. Architectural designs are a frequent theme in his work in addition to the contrast between buildings and nature.

Alex’s concept for this project mixes the history and culture of the city with the ever-evolving nature. The design will be built up of various letterpress equipment from when the Printworks was a Printing House and will be depicted as a fully ‘functional’ building with detailed window scenes, and human figures walking through in a maze-like fashion. There will also be cotton flowers in black & white, to stand out from the colourful building, which will be held by hands to symbolise the strength of Manchester’s communities. Overall, it will look like a “building within a building’ and the viewers will see new details every time they look at it.

Elyse Blackshaw


Born in a small town in Greater Manchester, Elyse studied at the Manchester School of Art and became a Textiles Teacher, after which she completed an MA at the Royal College of Art. During the last 10 years, she has been an illustrator and educator with a variety of workshops.

Eclectic by nature, Elyse uses hand drawings and collage, as well as digital illustration producing vibrant and playful artwork. Her values of illustrate, educate and activate help to create artwork that educates others about local environments whilst activating spaces with colour and positivity.

Elyse’s concept for this project represents the explosion of Manchester’s soul, together with the voices and hopes of local people in a collage design celebrating the past, present, and future of Manchester. With communities and connections being a fundamental value of the city, Elyse found that vibrant, friendly, inclusive, diverse, and proud were the most popular descriptions of Manchester and used this to help represent local people’s views in her design. Through optimistic colours and line work, the artwork is very much alive and thriving. The eclectic composition and diverse imagery embodies the spirit of the city and its communities, depicting the hopes of local people to inspire others to push for a better future.

Micah Purnell


Micah is an award winning freelance graphic designer, artist, curator and author from Manchester. As well as appearing in countless exhibitions over the last 25 years, Micah has two outdoor billboard galleries in Manchester, exhibiting leading artists, designers and local upcoming illustrators.

Designed to bring the humanities to commercial spaces, Micah’s work is centred around the phrase ‘you are enough’ and the powerful aid of unity. His style is striking and colourful and he finds new ways to create ‘ahhh’ moments in his artwork, which bring positive, memorable experiences.

Micah’s concept for this project has been designed as a three-part interactive experience. Firstly, you will see a colourful scene of hot air balloons where the colours blended together offer a metaphor of a diverse and cosmopolitan Manchester. Secondly, you will discover that the balloons are made of inspirational and uplifting phrases on the theme of imaginative playfulness and togetherness. And thirdly, using augmented reality, you can hold your phone camera towards the banner and the artwork will come to life, gently flying towards you, enabling you to see the text and wonder of each balloon up close. Hot air balloons offer a sense of hope, elevation and an image of positive escapism which the Printworks provides through play, dining, exercise and film.

Mikesian Studio


Mikesian studio are a design and art duo from Manchester made up of Mike and Sian, with a background in two of the most awarded branding and design agencies in the UK. Having set up shop together in 2019, they’re taking the principles of global branding & communication and applying it to bold public art that’s accessible for everyone.

Their work is a mix of powerful words, bold colour and graphic forms, with a focus on bringing light, inclusive artwork to communal and public spaces. They have worked at all kinds of scales, always working in different formats, with the consistent aim of changing the every day experience.

Mikesian’s concept for this project is to create a striking artwork that acts as a true representation of what our city is right now. After a series of street interviews asking ‘what does Manchester mean to you?’, they gathered responses, quotes, and sayings, putting the most memorable into a bold graphic design framework created a prominent piece of artwork. The final piece itself would be bright, colourful and graphic, using bold shapes and blocks of pattern alongside large-scale typography to create something genuinely striking. It would be a collage of genuine voices, all weaved together to form an authentic picture of the city of Manchester in the modern day.

Orakel Workshop


Orakel Workshop is the studio to a Brighton-based artist and designer with 15 years experience in the creative industry. They produce bespoke artwork across a wide range of materials and have delivered site-specific designs since 2007, to produce creative works for the public, all inspired by people and places.

Their designs are created digitally in a diverse range of formats and styles adapted according to location & material, allowing for versatility and ensuring that the final pieces are in harmony with the aesthetic qualities and function of the space. They create artwork which combines local history and stories in a modern and unique way.

Orakel Workshop’s concept for this project has incorporated Manchester’s industrial, music, sport, architectural, and creative heritage to tell an ongoing story of our city life & culture. The design features bold diagonals inspired by the Manchester Coat of Arms and the Hacienda, with a graphic pattern and shape inspired by the city, its building and the industrial heritage. The design includes imagery of The Printworks building over time with historic imagery of workers at the printing press, reflecting the buildings previous life and purpose. The current design is shown in B&W, but the final design will be in a unique colour scheme to bring the best of out the space.


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