Daniel Drabek’s monsters are not for the sterile gallery wall: the Italian-Swiss visual artist’s creations find their home on posters, album covers, clothing and stickers, among other surfaces. Today, Daniel provides a glimpse into the role of spontaneously projecting memory into his art and reveling in the distortions that emerge.

A recurring theme in your art are monsters. What role do they play in your work?

I’ve been drawing monsters for as long as I can remember. It doesn’t seem to go away no matter the amount of refined and intellectual material I surround myself with. I just love sharp teeth, claws, tentacles and angry eyes. I empathize with these monsters. Something about the ugly and the grotesque speaks to me on a deep, emotional level. Recently I’ve been particularly entertained by the idea of a sick-looking monster with a powerful body but a fragile soul. No matter how powerful and scary they can look, they are still vulnerable; something hurts them inside and they carry that hurt within. That’s why I often like to add tears to their eyes. It’s funny but it’s also moving to me.


What is your preferred artistic approach?

I love drawing because it can be the highest form of art, and at the same time the lowest form of art. Many people who draw don’t even consider what they are doing as “art”. It’s rare to find a painter who thinks that way of their painting.

I love drawing for its intimate and vulnerable nature. Vulnerability is very important for me and for my practice, it is something I seek out in other people’s work and it has great value to me. Even if the end result is a poorly drawn scene of a sexy airplane giving birth while screaming in agony, I still respect that more than a perfectly crafted monolithic piece of art that doesn’t say anything about the author.

Is there a specific element that predominantly informs your creative process?

Memory is extremely fascinating to me. I don’t like research. I think the best works come out when you let yourself just draw. I love the fallibility of it, I love how memory deforms reality…I’m totally obsessed with that element of distortion, that’s one of my favorite aspects to put in my work.


If you draw with only what you remember, you’ll be forced to reveal something about yourself: your culture, your experiences… it will all emerge in some ways. Not only that, but also your blind spots, your lack of understanding of the world and the distortions of your perception. It’s not just more interesting to look at but I also think it’s more honest.

How does contemporary culture come into play in your works?

A lot of what I do inevitably comes from what I’ve consumed as a small impressionable child. In my case, it was a lot of brain-deforming cartoons, toys, commercials, and family movies. I hate thinking about it and realizing that this is my “culture”, in the same sense that beautifully crafted objects with ornaments and ancient legends were the culture of a Native American child…but I have to live with it.

What is your relation to design and illustration?

What I like about graphic design and commercial illustration is that it can be art applied to a specific function. The idea of one of my drawings living on a poster or a music cover appeals to me much more than having them on a white wall.

Technically speaking, I feel I’m a graphic designer: I like building strong visual identities, working on different media, the constant research of new styles and new approaches to communication (I enjoy doing that just for my own projects).

Can you name one important influence in spirit with our current “Who Let the Dogs Out” theme?

I cannot watch David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” without getting extremely emotional and crying like a baby.

*CUMORANPOO6 (Project)

CUMORANPOO6 is a monster made of flesh and organs, bones and boners that produces music through the bodies of artists. It is a project currently in the making with producers 067eoin, bp iv, jacksonbbb, spiritotem and Lonneker. It all started by conceiving the artwork first and then asking the musicians to make a track based on their personal interpretation of the visuals. Together we wanted to explore themes of dysphoria, dysmorphia and the relationship with one’s body, alongside an overall aesthetic inspired by anatomical illustrations, diagrams, and plastic models used in medicine theory, distorted and twisted to their limit. The projects will have a visual, a musical, and a physical side and it is going to be released through me&u2, our personal label/collective/band, crediting CUMORANPOO6 as the main artist. I’m looking forward to this project more than anything in my life.

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Daniel Drabek is half Italian and half Swiss, but his last name came from his Czech immigrant father. It means something like “tiny claw” (he really likes that). He is now 23 and ever since he was a child, he always liked to create things. Growing up he tried making funny illustrations, comics, Lego® sculptures, Minecraft® videos, short films, gory cartoons, heavy metal logos, expressionist paintings, screenplays, children’s illustrations, graphic design, graffiti, music, fashion, etc. He believes he did most of these things out of desperation. A desperation to be seen, to be liked, to be loved, to be understood, to find security and a place where he belonged… but un/fortunately it never worked out. Unfortunately because it brought him a lot of pain, fortunately because he understood that is not a good way of living. He hated himself to the point he couldn’t feel welcome anywhere, not even in nature. It felt like every single blade of grass was screaming to him “YOU ARE NOT WELCOME”. That’s the worst feeling he’s ever experienced. He only decided to get better when he realized his drawings were getting bad because of his state. This autumn he is going to leave his town for a bigger city and will start studying art. He wants to make a living out of drawing monsters, that will be the biggest joke he can play on this world.


Artworks / Daniel Drabek

Picture of one of the “TOI TOI” the collective exhibition (curated by, photo by Stefano Molo

Artwork “DOGS” collab with Francesco Quadri

Pictures 1-3 / collab with Sander Ettema

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