Daniel David Freeman’s interest in the power of image stems from his time spent as a child rooting around a market held on an airfield. “One of the stalls sold a mountain of 2000 AD back issues for next to nothing, I’d get a handful every time we went,” the London-based artist and illustrator tells It’s Nice That. “There was also a bloke with drum and bass tape sets that I managed to get a couple CDs off. One was called Intelligent Selecta and it had a crude Giger-style alien DJing on the front,” he recalls. “I think these two things were my first taste of being genuinely excited about imagery. I really felt I could relate to something made by someone else on a personal level for the first time.”
Having feasted on a healthy diet of Judge Dredd and D&B, a young Daniel also had his mind blown by the video for the Beastie Boys’ 1999 single Intergalactic. “It made me realise creativity didn’t have to be high-brow and you can still be extremely imaginative in developing your own response to established ideas,” Daniel says. That sense of removal from the world of the high-brow plays a crucial role in the scratchy, macabre, downright nasty drawings that have seen the man we like to think of as DDF become one of the finest purveyors of family-unfriendly multi-disciplinary oddities out there.
“My work,” says the recent graduate of Chelsea College of Art’s fine art MA, “explores the effect of contemporary subcultural aesthetics on an imagined future through considered combinations of carefully sourced culturally significant imagery and objects.” However, his practice – which stretches from custom-made, one-off defacings of vintage military jackets, to hyper-intense, thrash metal influenced zines for Carharrt WIP, via graphic design work on Converse projects – feels a little more visceral than that description suggests.
Interested in “miserable sci-fi and anything post-apocalyptic,” Daniel admits he’s not concerned with how his work exists “in the real world.” Instead, he feels more inclined to think about one of those aforementioned t-shirts “being worn by an extra shouting through the fence on a caged death match on Mars.” Which, let’s be honest, is up there when it comes to descriptions of how you view your own work.
His illustrative work puts us in mind of early-90s PC gaming magazines to Warhammer 40,000 Codexes, weird waterlogged digi-dub 12”s that wash ashore in Deptford market and all manner of left-field visual, sonic, and experiential debris. It was his bold approach to combining drawing and type that caught our eye at It’s Nice That, and Daniel has a typically wonderful way with words when it comes to explaining how he came to create an aesthetic that’s identifiably his. “I always try and imagine the work existing in a much more exciting, imaginary context,” he says. “I imagine a flyer appearing for a split-second whilst a hacker frantically searches a scratched desk for a virus carrying microchip in greasy, studded fingerless gloves."