When you catch a glimpse of one of Dana Tanamachi's chalk drawings, two things hit you: how stunning the drawing is and the utter simplicity of the medium. The strong nostalgia about chalk on slate her drawings evoke almost make you wish you'd spent more time in trouble after school, writing lines on chalkboards.
The chalk drawings are Dana's after-hours, when she creates large-scale typographic drawings on chalk walls or portable boards all around New York City. By day she has a regular job at a boutique design studio, Louise Fili Ltd, where she focuses on restaurant and food packaging. It has only been three short years since Dana moved here from Houston, Texas, for an internship at Good Housekeeping Magazine, which led to her first job designing Broadway show posters.
The simplicity of why she loves chalk so much is striking. "To be honest, I love that it's so cheap," she says. "Many mediums require a lot of extra supplies and money... I only buy the dollar store brand and my only other supplies are old rags from around the house and a little step stool. Doesn't get much better than that!"
What has been your favorite chalk installation? My favorite installation thus far has to be a piece that I did for a Mad Men themed holiday party last year in Brooklyn. My friends are known for hosting amazing themed parties, so when they told me about the 'Mad Men Holiday Soirée' I had to get in on it. It was so fun to see all the gentlemen sporting their best Don Draper duds, and the ladies with their pearls and pencil skirts—all with my mid-century themed piece as the backdrop.
What do you find yourself being drawn to typographically? Currently, I'm really drawn to hand-painted signage. Vintage or faux-vintage. I discovered Pete Vogel's work a little while ago and have been really inspired and encouraged, to say the least. He creates new signs inspired by vintage typography that are simple, yet stunning. Beautiful craftsmanship, too.
What's your dream project, or surface you'd love to cover? One of my dream projects would be to do a series of book covers in chalk. I just saw these incredible embroidered covers for Penguin Threads Classics and was really inspired. I love seeing craft, design and typography working so well together.
If you weren't designing and drawing, what would you be doing instead? I know I'd definitely still be doing something crafty, that's for sure. I could see myself working with my hands —perhaps stained glass, mosaics, signwriting, calligraphy, or patternmaking/sewing.
How long have you been using Squarespace? How did you find us? I've been using Squarespace for about a year now. I learned about it through my friend, Eric Ryan Anderson, who uses Squarespace for his incredible photography blog, I've Got Friends.
Why does Squarespace work for you? Squarespace is a dream come true. I have tried a few different website-building services but always felt extremely limited in terms of design and usability. It works for me because I'm not someone who has the time or interest to spend hours upon hours online when there's work to be done and art to be made! My favorite thing about Squarespace is that it's built for visual people like myself. I have no background in coding or the technical side of websites, so features like the column width slider are lifesavers. Being able to preview what your changes will look like in real time is genius! I am also a fan of the way Squarespace seamlessly integrates with Typekit, which gives designers more options when choosing typefaces that best suit their site.
What's next for you? I'm currently working on a series of posters for a progressive Opera Festival which I'm really thrilled about. I’m also excited to be working on a fun piece for a vendor at the Brooklyn Flea (which is one of my favorite weekend spots in the borough!). As summer approaches, I'll be preparing to do installations for a couple of beautiful Brooklyn weddings—but I'd also like to use the spring and summer to rest a bit and take some long bike rides around Brooklyn.
Check out more of Dana's amazing chalk drawings on her website, www.danatanamachi.com, or follow her on Twitter @dana_tanamachi.