Ditto’s founder, Ben Freeman, discusses the relevance of the object in today’s society

The East London arts publisher shares his views on physical media in a post digital culture.

"It’s not my intention to take over the industry or anything like that. I just want to do what I love."

After making satirical fanzines in the late ’80s, and flyers for squat raves in the ’90s, Ben Freeman decided to follow the undercurrent running through all his work—a love for the visual arts.

Coupled with his interest in fashion, subculture and “the darker side of things,” Freeman went on to co-found two forward thinking companies that challenge what we know about publishing and objectivity in the digital age. The first of which is Ditto, which Freeman founded in 2009. From photo books that document the world of cultism, to sexually explicit illustrations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the London-based publishing company is Freeman’s outlet for his offbeat fascinations.

Moving forward and taking with him eight years experience in printing and a passion for DIY culture, Freeman set up Future Artefacts, a project that explores the role of physical media in today’s society. At a time when nostalgists are eager to dismiss technological advancement in favor of fetishizing older forms of media, while tech heads jump from one revolutionary gadget to the next, Freeman makes a stand for both sides and instead poses the question: What objects are actually worthwhile in an age where culture is becoming increasingly digitalized? We visited the Ditto studio to find out.


Born in Withernsea, a town on the outskirts of Hull in Yorkshire, artist Richie Culver came to London in 2000. The 17-year-old was following his girlfriend to the capital with only £8 in his pocket.

Ritchie Culver, Artist.

"I express myself. If I’m happy with it then I’m happy with it."

Ten years later, Richie laid the foundations for his career in art by creating his first artistic work: a magazine cut-out of a Jesse Owens photo with the words ‘Have you ever really loved anyone?’ stuck onto it. Despite having not had any formal training, his first art work was immediately featured in a group exhibition at Tate Modern. Since then Richie has been experimenting with photography, mixed-media installations, paintings and constitutes collages and the matching of words with images his strength. His work is heavily autobiographical, his ‘I loved you’ paintings for example were inspired by an attempt of Richies to get his ex-fiancé back; he climbed up the back of her house one night, went on to the roof, and sprayed exactly these words above her bedroom window.

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We managed to tie down the most elusive character in London’s world of books for an interview: Conor Donlon. 

 

Conor is the owner of Donlon Books, an inimitable bookshop located on Broadway Market where he sells a personally curated eclectic mix of counterculture, subculture and youth culture informed books. Since progressive retailer LN-CC opened in Dalston in 2010, Conor has curated their book selection, providing them with the cream of the crop of books and printed matter.

Conor came from Ireland to London to study fashion design, completed a BA and MA at Central Saint Martins and went on assisting photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. Possibly inspired by working in Saint Martins’ college library, he took the opportunity to open a small bookshop in Herald St Gallery, just below Tillmans’ studio space. The selection of books was appreciated by the art and fashion people who came down the gallery, so Conor decided to take a step forward and opened his own independent shop on Cambridge Heath Road. After running two shops simultaneously for a while, he then opted to continue only the space on Broadway Market, which opened in 2009 and just recently he moved above the shop where he is now unintentionally merging private and working life.