Meme supreme: Daniel Keogh’s maximalist illustrations are impossible to scroll past
The Australian-based illustrator starts each project on paper, before moving on to hundreds of layers in Photoshop to make his incredibly detailed images. In his Where's Wally?-style illustrations, he encourages the viewer to create their own stories.
- Alif Ibrahim
- 6 December 2019
Looking at the work of Australian illustrator Daniel Keogh is like opening a long-lost storage unit packed to the brim with objects, characters and memes. He draws in a flat, layered style with clean lines, and fills his pieces with endless cultural references. But Daniel still manages to imbue a keen eye for symmetry in his maximalist style – take his recent Where’s Wally?-style illustration for Gossamer’s fourth issue.
“I live in Bendigo, a city about two hours outside of Melbourne, Australia. I work at a local supermarket during the day and spend my nights drawing and editing my artwork,” Daniel tells It’s Nice That. “While a lot of people reacted negatively to my aspirations of being an artist, with school guidance counsellors politely steering me towards something more realistic, my mother always encouraged me. Even though I was sure my art was bad, I think having her validation instilled some belief in me.”
Much like illustrator Ori Toor’s work, the amount of detail in Daniel’s work encourages viewers to create their own stories through image association. “Some of these images are symbolic and hold meaning, other times I’ll just draw colonel sanders in an image so I can read people’s comments and watch them try to decipher the meaning or create their own story,” Daniel says. Although usually finishing the work off in Photoshop, each drawing starts on paper, building upon an initial image and layering them into a massive collage.
For full disclosure, I first encountered Daniel’s work in the Reddit’s Dankmemes page where he posted Meme Supreme, a collection of over 200 of our favourite memes from recent years. From Elon Musk’s infamous Joe Rogan Podcast appearance, Grumpy Cat, to the staircase dance scene from the Joker, it’s hard to take your eyes away from the sheer volume of references. It’s a timely illustration as well, a perfect complement to the Meme of the Decade voting that’s going on.
“If you look a lot at the art I made this year, it’s actually not super-detailed or intricate, it’s just a complete overload of content and I think that any art that can make people stop and look for more than five seconds is valuable in the age of Instagram,” Daniel says. Each of these illustrations typically takes three days to make when he works at a consistent pace.
For Gossamer, Daniel has taken on both the literal meaning of the theme, which was ‘inside a restaurant’, and the abstract – inside the mind. “Seeing my work published and not just on a computer screen was also really refreshing and rewarding,” Daniel says. With a few album covers coming out in 2020, Daniel is still driven by this desire to create. “I really just want to keep creating art and hopefully opportunities keep coming my way!” If you’re having a slow Friday, Daniel’s jam-packed illustrations will certainly occupy your afternoon.
About the Author
Alif joined It's Nice That as an editorial assistant from September to December 2019 after completing an MA in Digital Media at Goldsmiths, University of London. His writing often looks at the impact of art and technology on society.