In an age when so much design is digitally generated and has the look of being manufactured, it is refreshing to see beautiful display type letters drawn freehand with chalk. Not the kind of hastily written “daily special” menus seen on chalkboards in neighborhood cafes, the chalk lettering of Brooklyn-based designer Dana Tanamachi recalls the lost art of early 20th century storefront sign painters with their mix of outline and script letters, decorative flourishes, and subtle shading.
Tanamachi happened into custom chalk lettering somewhat accidentally when she picked up a piece of chalk at a friend’s party and began drawing letters on her chalk wall. She had previously designed Broadway show posters at Spotco and worked at Louise Fili, Ltd., specializing in the design of restaurants and food packaging. Now Tanamachi is a full-time custom chalk letterer, with commissions from clients ranging from Rugby Ralph Lauren, Google and West Elm to Harper Collins UK. Tanamachi’s chalk letters evoke a sense of Old World craftsmanship and a gentler time when images were completely drawn by hand and not aided by “mouse-clicks” on a Mac.