In a yet undiscovered by the masses art hub of Europe, Antwerp (BE), an event which might have seemed a bit as a sort of gathering of a secret society took place last weekend. Not very widely advertised and promoted, it attracted only the “same” kind of crowd: artists, illustrators, designers and other young (at least at heart) and beautiful creative minded people.
It was a second edition of Grafixx Zine Fest, and this year it took place in an old dance school which provided a very characteristic space to showcase young and fresh illustration. A two — day program was quite intense, consisting of lectures, workshops, performances, live music and exhibitions which, by the way, sometimes involved some conceptual installation elements.
In one of the exhibition rooms I ran into London based illustrator Daniel Frost who agreed to answer to a couple of questions. Despite being pretty young Daniel has already got some big names in his client list, such as Nike, New York Times, Tate Britain and others.
Daniel, let’s start from the beginning: how did you start with illustration?
I actually started doing fine art at college and then switch to illustration as I wanted to create work that communicated with everyone and I felt that illustration would the best way for me to do this. Also, I am a big fan of children’s books and comics and have always wanted to make/draw my own, so this was another reason for me to take up illustration.
I know that you’ve recently graduated with Masters degree from Royal College of Arts in London. What was your experience there like?
Being at the Royal College of Art was one of the best experiences of my life. It was the first institution I’d been to where everyone was as passionate about the subject as I was. I made a lot of my best friends there and learnt as much from them as I did from the tutors. It was also the place where I feel that I found my voice in my work. Although it changes as I develop, I think that it was a good place to build the foundations.
How do you see your creative process now?
I think for myself as a commercial artist it is important to be as flexible as I can, as it not only keeps my practice fresh and interesting for me (and viewers) but it also allows me to work with a broad range of clients and respond to briefs in the most suitable way.
Where does your inspiration comes from? What influences your work?
mmm! It’s quite difficult to say because l’m inspired by lots of things. I’m always amazed by the kind of inspiration that you get when you are not looking for it and I as I’m quite keen on drawing when I’m out and about I often find myself being inspired by a small idea that I have in my sketchbook. But if I was to say one thing in particular I find myself being most inspired by my friends, family and strangers. As for influences I say that they change as I explore more and more. But one of my biggest influences has been Quentin Blake, if it wasn’t for his amazing talent for describing stories, ideas and personalities with his drawings I don’t think I would have been and illustrator.
Lastly, as somebody coming from one of the biggest art centres in the world, what’s your impression on Grafixx Zine Fest and, in general, graphic art in Belgium? How different it is from UK?
Grafixx festival was amazing, it had such a broad range of work covering all areas of contemporary graphic arts and it was such a pleasure to be involved in it. I really love both traditional Belgium art (such as the work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Frans Masereel) and the contemporary art being made today ( Brecht Vandenbroucke and Brecht Evens). I think that illustration/graphic art in Belgium is a lot more experimental than it is in the UK, I’m not sure why but it seems like the work that is being produced in UK is safer and more conservative. Although over the last few years it seems like UK’s scene is also becoming more and more experimental as work from the rest of Europe is becoming more accessible due to the internet and publishers like Nobrow who have been doing a lot of translated comics.