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Art Crush Friday: Dana Tanamachi-Williams.


I couldn't think of a more satisfying way to live.

Chances are, you've seen Dana Tanamachi's work before--you just didn't know it at the time. A former designer-turned-letterer-turned-chalk artist, Dana has steadily risen to new heights within the contemporary world of custom typography and hand lettering, with an ever-growing client list that includes big names like Google, Ogilvy, Time Magazine, and Target. Despite her overwhelming success, she remains grounded in her efforts by openly taking individual commissions and independently running Tanamachi Studio, her design and lifestyle-focused boutique.


 While Dana was enjoying a budding career in design (first as a typographer for SpotCo, then in restaurant and food packaging at Louise Fili Ltd.), she stumbled on her talent for chalk-based installation--at a friend's housewarming party, no less. Friends began commissioning her to draw themed wall backdrops for all kinds of parties--and the rest, seemingly, is history. There's vital power in fearlessly sharing your work, as Austin Kleon would say.

FLOURISH from Dana Tanamachi on Vimeocaptured by Andrew Ryan Shepherd.

One of the most unnerving and inspiring aspects of Dana's work is its impermance. She refuses to use any form of fixative on her finished works, relishing in the vulnerability and simplicity of the medium. "The cheaper it is, the better," she says, explaining that dollar-store chalk is more hollow in nature, allowing her to layer and sketch without emitting that awful, infamous chalkboard squeak. Wouldn't we all love to rely only upon cheap materials? 

While I'm spending substantial time learning the ways of Adobe Illustrator, this excerpt from Dana's interview with The Great Discontent really made me stop and step back:

There’s a huge satisfaction that comes from physically working with your hands and having created something when you’re done.

Exactly. There are some people who are just born to design on the computer and they’re amazing masters of the pen tool, but that’s just not me. If I’m honest, I consider it to be one of my limitations. It’s probably why I leaned so heavily towards hand-lettering—it was easier than clicking around in Illustrator all day. Sometimes your limitations can be a launching pad into an unexpected story.




To follow along with Dana's adventures in chalk (and otherwise), check out her blog and follow her on Twitter. You can also find time-lapse videos of her work here.

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