Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dana Tanamachi

In the world of expressive hand-drawn typography, one designer reigns supreme: Dana Tanamachi. Remembered best for her unique and unlikely medium of chalk, her work has been featured in restaurants and hotels to magazines and even Google’s New York Offices.
            While attending a housewarming party where a friend had covered her walls with chalkboard paint, Tanamachi drew a Victorian-inspired lettering of the word “Brooklyn.” From that moment onward, her work exploded—first amongst friends at parties, then Facebook, and eventually to clients such as Rugby Ralph Lauren.
            Watching Tanamachi draw is just as mesmerizing as the work she produces. Many of her fans, who only know her work through the internet, are used to seeing time-lapse videos of her attacking empty chalk walls, and after such a time, creating expressive pieces out of thin air. However, a behind-the-scenes look shows that she has a process. She begins with a rough sketch, in which she splits the drawing into sections. Each section is planned on tracing paper, so that she is actually working in layers of type. This, through an intricate and toilsome process, the lettering and illustrations are carefully drawn with chalk and refined with wet rags. Pieces usually take eight to twelve hours to complete, and are done in one sitting.
            Amazingly, every typeface she uses is original, and each piece usually contains five or size typefaces. Tanamachi is constantly drawing letters and typefaces, and is often inspired by her former boss, Louis Fili.
            Surprisingly, the majority of her work is not permanent. In an article with the Wall Street Journal, she explains, “People tend to value my pieces more when they are aware they could be gone in an instant.” Not to mention, the designer hates the “splotchy sheen” that fixatives leave behind. So, not only is her work beautiful, but fragile and temporary.
            In addition to her chalkboard typographic illustrations, she has created many products and worked for a multitude of clients. She has completed projects for Burton Snowboards, Nike advertisements, and many other things. However, each item always comes back to her unique style and textured chalk-like lettering.

            Other designers, illustrators, and typographers that are similar to Tanamachi include Louis Fili, Mary Kate McDevitt, and the Hampton Creative firm.


Dana Tanamachi's website-
Wall Street Journal Article-

Related Designers

Louis Fili-
Mary Kate McDevitt-
The Hampton Creative-



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