Grafixx Zine Fest in Belgium. Photo reportage and interview with Daniel Frost

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.


Aistė Stancikaitė
About author:
Aistė Stancikaitė
Aiste Stancikaite works with images and text to tell stories about places and people. She is interested in reality and how it transforms into multiple narratives when it's pictured. Aiste has finished B.A. degree in Fine Arts (Painting) and since then is travelling, making photo essays, writing articles and doing other creative projects. At the mom... Read further >
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