Kerrang! is a music industry institution. First published in 1981, as the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) swept around the world via bands such as Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Saxon, it became the best-selling British music weekly in the early 2000s. It remains in print today as an alternative culture brand and, with digital outreach included, reaches more than 45 million people a month.
Now visual artist Daniella Batsheva has been named its first-ever female lead. Known for her hybrid style of digital line work, combined with traditional hand drawing, Daniella's artwork for Kerrang! boasts detail-heavy, vibrantly-coloured, intricate images that embrace a wide range of timely issues, including mental health, sex, drugs and female empowerment.
Daniella's collaboration with Kerrang! began last December and has proven central to the brand's new direction, which aims to appeal to a new generation with a more inclusive, alternative outlook.
"I want the characters I draw for Kerrang! to be human," says Daniella. "I want to show mixed-race couples and men struggling with mental health issues. I want to show people enjoying themselves and giggling at their silly sexual adventures.
"I want to show that there's room for everyone, no matter your colour or background," she continues. "I want to offer a safe space and create pieces that would've made the young Kerrang! reader that I felt like she had a place in the alternative. I think it boils down to representation, so that's my goal. I want people to know they are seen."
Her first illustration for Kerrang! spotlighted 'The 50 Best Albums of 2021' in a kinetic wallpaper-type rendering of musicians. Next came three illustrations for the article 'Fictional Drugs' that portrayed electric, elaborate eye-candy chaos. That was followed by the humorous weed-laced scenario of 'Sex and CBD', a depiction of seasonal depression in 'Is Blue Monday a Myth?', and a horror-themed illustration for 'Tracking Down the Scariest Crap Movie in the World'.
Further to that, her illustration for 'Lockdown Loneliness' examined the heavy impact caused by the pandemic, '10 BDSM Commandments' explored kinky sex advice, and 'Burnout' dealt with the very real difficulty of working through exhaustion.
In further honour of her talent, the June 2022 special issue was one of the few in Kerrang!'s 40+ year history of showcasing an illustration on its cover. Inspired by the Hella Mega Tour, featuring Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer, Daniella crafted a joyful, colourful, chaotic scene showing a tarantula wearing a unicorn skull that's tearing down a city, along with robots, lasers and a sasquatch.
Daniella is thrilled to be working at the legendary publication. "Kerrang! is such a loved and established brand that's always championed creativity and authenticity and has provided an important platform for the coolest artists and most relevant topics," she enthuses. "As we witness the alternative sector shift into a much more diverse global collection of talents, naturally Kerrang! is evolving along with it, and I am thrilled and honoured to contribute illustrations that mirror that growth."
Kerrang!'s brand manager Esme Surfleet adds: "The future of the alternative is bright and colourful, and we want our creative team to reflect that. Daniella's artwork has been a refreshing addition to our visual arsenal, and we're excited to be showcasing community members from a vast range of cultural backgrounds.
"Daniella's unique approach and artistic style have helped us engage a wider audience in ongoing discussions about our more meaningful content, which has been extremely beneficial for the community we are building."