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Getting to know Daniel Frost

Daniel Frost portait


Our Artist Tee Series returns for SS16 featuring the illustrations of London-based artist, Daniel Frost. This year, Frost takes us on a tour of his favorite spots in Copenhagen — from the tourist crowded boardwalk on the Nyhavn Canal to the distinctive parks and bridges that make our city truly unique. We caught up with Daniel Frost to get to the bottom of how the talented Londoner extracts extraordinary illustrations out of the seemingly mundane moments of everyday life.

Interestingly, the whimsical, art-filled upbringings we sometimes half expect to hear from artists was not the case with Daniel Frost. In fact, Frost’s account of his childhood is quite the opposite. Frost tells us that he grew up in a “small, boring town where nothing happens and you have to make your own entertainment.”

The town he is referring to is Rugeley, Staffordshire, where, in the company of his brother, Frost grew up drawing the characters that lived on his street and dreaming up stories about them. “You get swept into this little world”, he explains. An avid reader but never gifted in writing, Frost opted for drawing as an outlet for expressing his ideas. His mother is a school teacher and his father works in a factory, so there weren’t necessarily any significant artistic influences in the family, although they were always supportive of his budding creativity. “My nan used to collect the backs of cereal boxes and I would sit in front of the TV and just draw. And that was my Sunday.”

Daniel Frost interview

Daniel Frost signed prints

Frost tells us that as a child, he admired the works of a number of British illustrators, particularly Quentin Blake, who is the illustrator behind the Roald Dahl children’s books. “They shape the books because it is as though a kid drew them. They’re sophisticated but they have a naivety that I really like. It is quite fun and quite playful. I would like for my own work to have the ability to make people laugh and smile. If I’m laughing while drawing it, hopefully others will laugh too.” Perhaps this is why Frost has taken up illustrating for children’s fiction and educational books in recent years. “It is nice to have a clear message to deliver. I suppose with education books as well, I learn as much from illustrating them as children do reading them.”

Frost didn’t pursue his affinity for illustration until after completing his Bachelor of Arts. “It wasn’t a subject at school, you either did graphics or you did fine art.” He then went on to pursue a Master’s degree with a focus in illustration at The Royal College of Art in London where he met many of the artists he continues to work with to this day.

With a life split between London and Copenhagen, it’s no wonder Frost is never short on inspiration although he “tends to switch where [he]’s looking” to maintain a healthy imagination. “London is really good for people watching, which is why I do a lot of characters. It’s a diverse place with loads of people doing weird stuff all the time. Every city has great characters in it, you just need to sit down and observe it.”

The concept behind this season’s Artist Tee series was the brainchild of Frost and Norse Projects: “We wanted to do something that represented where Norse Projects came from. Previously, the illustrations had been about characters but these ones are more meditative, centering around atmosphere and location. There’s an interesting light in Copenhagen where the sun hangs really low and you get these long shadows.” The illustrations seem to capture people, not necessarily in interesting situations or portraying a storyline, but simply going through the motions of their day-to-day lives in Copenhagen. “I tried to bring that through with how I made them, very sketchy, as though they were quickly drawn in a notepad.” Frost tells us that the illustration depicting Knippelsbro, a bascule bridge across the Inner Harbour of Copenhagen, is one of his favorites: “It’s very interesting graphically and it’s a place where you get so many people on their way to work.”

Daniel Frost artist t-shirts

The Spring/Summer 2016 collaboration consists of two 40 x 50 inch silkscreen prints, printed in France on natural Rivoli 300 gr paper alongside coordinating classic Niels Basic T-shirts each with a unique printed illustration.

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