Hi, I'm Danielle Evans, a food typographer, dimensional letterer, and calculating mess maker.

Photo by Patrick Michael Chin.

Photo by Patrick Michael Chin.

 

My greatest aspiration is to invigorate design, to give breath, warmth, and dimension to a flat, digital world.

 

In 2013, I had a simple but novel idea: transplant design from the page to the kitchen table. Using only my hands, I fashioned letterforms from coffee, playfully dragging swashes with painterly sensibilities and grinding beans deeper into my nail beds. While I had struggled to draw proper curves and consistent strokes, sculpting the correct weight and balance felt effortless using my entire hand. I could manage a comfortable scale using my fingertips. 

I ground the beans coarsely to preserve object recognition, though for me the smell was a clear indicator- a chocolatey, dark French roast. Bemused and slightly impressed with myself, I snapped several photos on my college Nikon (containing less megapixels than my current phone) and spent part of the afternoon removing a crack from my cutting board in post. Like the best cups of coffee, I shared it with friends, the Internet, and nondescriptly brushed my creation back into its bag.

Armed with nothing more than my curiosities and my favorite beverage, I began brewing a career in food typography

 

Creating Breadcrumb Trails

 

When I began lettering in 2008, I noticed a general hesitancy towards imprecision in the design industry. Computers were king, and pixel perfection was the standard. My illustration background had prepped me for storytelling but not for the cool austerity of Apple inspired design. 

I began working with my hands, embracing my love of sculpture, photography, and lettering, using design to shape a distinctive and delicious point of view. My work was innovative, approachable, and imperfect, creating modest waves through creative industries and plopped me somewhat reluctantly at the beginning of a movement. 

My ideas were the driving forces to my projects. I choose a clever application of language and description over a literal "This is ...." approach. I discovered the dark magic of reinvigorating trite, punny dad jokes, meanwhile encouraging viewers to reimagine their rumpled laundry, discarded party supplies, and old junk as lively, elegant objects of note.

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Kernels of Inspiration

 

As an artist previously incapable of creating a series, I found I could continue producing food and dimensional type if I set parameters for inspiration. I could pulverize, cut, bend, and twist the items provided they were legible to the viewer. I wished to be accessible but ingenious. My work could span any number of applications as long as I rooted myself to lettering. Finally, I could use any food, any item, provided it could be manipulated at human scale; I sought to avoid both tweezers and dump trucks while gaining confidence in my skills.

Fast forward three years to new equipment: upgraded camera body, substantial wide angle lens, lighting equipment, a small rig, and a modest dining room studio. My work has since expanded from cutting board to table top, and while still dazzling is ever within reach. 

Because my technology and studio have limited my abilities to increase my scale, my work is executable at approximately 48" wide without the assistance of other photographers and their professional grade equipment. I have invented my career from scratch and am limited by lack of time and resources to push beyond the boundaries of a table top. 

 

In conjunction with Adobe, I wish to expand my portfolio in complexity of form, scale, and visual interest.

Possible methods for achieving this include the following:

 
  • Lettering of substantial scale and size, integrated into new environments as part of a greater image.

  • Typography with greater complexity of builds, trickier baking techniques or assembly/set construction.

  • Serial campaigns with overarching themes, ie. a calendar requiring snow and fall leaves, completed over multiple months.

  • Collaborative efforts with artists of national and international notoriety from different cities.

  • Exploration of new applications for my brand of work, ie. wallpapers, video, licensure.

 
 

Heart in hand, balancing on tables in some typographic yoga contortion is where you'll find me.

 

From the beginning, I learned to invest wisely in my studio and use available resources to their greatest potential. I've amassed new equipment and learning greater technical skills, continuing to keep my growth within arm's length. The basics remain the same: I unfurl materials on a table top and create lettering lovingly by hand. 

BASIC WORKFLOW

The video below summarizes a typical start to finish project: an idea is produced and sketched loosely, a surface and supplies procured, the materials are roughly formed then refined, then styled, photographed and retouched. With one-offs or campaigns of simple execution, I am comfortable handling all aspects of production. For more complex designs or numerous images, I hire an assistant or photographer to speed through the shoot day but edit the footage myself.

My process requires a fluid balance of planning and spontaneity, as the amount of variables are often more numerous than the controls. This allows me to take calculated risks and supply myself with accurate estimates on timing, type treatments, material quantities, etc. My intended content will require some deviations from this basic strategy, but the core workflow will remain intact. 

I firmly believe relinquishing control makes stronger work.

Therefore, I'd like to submit several ideas of various complexities to Adobe for consideration from the most involved to the least.


Environmentalism

Image by Cenza Della Dona.

Image by Cenza Della Dona.

For the last few years, pithy quotes have been emblazoned on every mountain range in the United States. "Not all who wander are lost" once meant more than the map or globe on which it was applied, but with the viral, insatiable consumerism of social media imagery, these inspirational ideas have distilled to the modern motivational poster. 

Because my work is environmental and evocative, I see great potential in revitalizing this trope instead of mocking it to death. Rather than working from a studio or kitchen, I want to extend myself to long stretches of road, an open forest path, or an empty mountainside. I see lettering living harmoniously within the environment as a secondary or tertiary element of the story with vast scale.

 

THE SCOPE

I wish to produce a series of 5-7 images across a variety of climates- moody woods, bright beaches, twilight deserts, snowy mountainsides, vast highland roads- that incorporate dimensional lettering naturally into the setting in way of breadcrumbs, rocks, light painting, ice sculptures, etc. 

Within a 5-7 image series, some executions are simpler solves. Light painting in the desert for example would require a desert, minimal supplies and likely an assistant to snap the photo while I create the image. This simplicity would permit more complex letterforms and layouts, perhaps a more exotic location instead of a stateside solution.

However, several builds could be best captured in video by a small team or span a greater distance, requiring more assistance in the build stage. Bringing on other photographers better skilled with ambient light could heighten the complexity of the final image and provide interesting behind the scenes shareable content. One of my ideas involves snow and ice sculpting, which would require a couple pre-production days to build, freeze, and extract pieces from molds; the expertise of a videographer could make excellent use of light within the snowy forms. 

I've toyed with the idea of distance, anamorphic/fixed perspective, and environmentally based lettering in my current body of work. These projects have been executed in studio conditions, but I would relish the opportunity to experiment literally in the open air.

 

Expenses

The factors surrounding the grandness of each image are flexible, thereby affecting the price heavily. Looking broadly at the series, some images can be produced resourcefully, while others would likely be more involved. Below is an example of a simple vs. complex solution.

Desert Light Painting

Joshua Tree, CA

Light painting with solitary figure possibly in frame, shot in the desert twilight.

Total approx. cost: $3,100

Airfare from CMH: roughly $550 roundtrip

Lodging: approx $150-175/night for 2-3 nights

Per diem: $50/day for 2-3 days

Rental vehicle: $70-96 from LAX 3 days

TRAVEL

$1,300

 

Lights of various brightness and strobe: $60- 150

Optional battery powered strobe: $60 - 300

SUPPLIES

$300 (varies)

 

$500/day rate

+ airfare/lodging rolled into mine

+ per diem $50/day

ASSISTANT

$1,500

 (approximation)


High Road Highland Type

Isle of Skye, SCT

Using found stones to create an anamorphic type treatment spanning 50-100 feet up a Scottish cliff side.

Total approx. cost: $17,000

Airfare from CMH: roughly $1,660 roundtrip

Lodging: approx $100-160/night for 4-5 nights

Per diem: 75/day

Rental vehicle: $120-141 economy van from GLA

TRAVEL

$2,800

 

Utilizing found stones.

SUPPLIES

$0

 

2-3 person film crew for a 1.5-2min video ($5,000-6,500)

+ travel

+ per diem 75/day

1-2 build assistants (500/day)

 

AV + ASSIST.

$12,500 (varies)


Additional General Equipment

To offer the best possible imagery I can without constantly hiring a photographer, I'd love to acquire a new camera body. Currently I use a novice's camera body, a Canon 70D, with a pro grade wide angle lens, a 2.8 24-70mm. A Canon 5D mark iii would better match the quality of my lens, retailing at $2,500 on Amazon. A GoPro to set up for my own b-roll in simple making of projects would be a marvelous edition, valued between $200-400, plus micro SDs, etc. An additional camera battery with charger for $30, and 2-3 memory cards for travel, retailing approximately at $40/each would be idea for travel situations. 


Because I regularly travel for work, I can realistically factor cost and time for teams. These costs can flex to reflect budget constraints, ie. shifting locale to Colorado or Utah, reducing the project scale to require less hands. However, I love working in teams and desire to incorporate professionals of different disciplines to give their account of the production narrative. The magnitude of such a project would generate significant content naturally, capturing as much as possible would be the challenge.

 

PUBLICITY

This idea would resonate deeply with many creatives longing for adventure and analog disciplines. Teasing photos of locations would generate ample buzz as to where I was and encourage others to see how I'm working within my environment. To test some of the methods before embarking on the actual shoots, I would love to openly explore by hosting small weekend workshops or design field trips with like minded designers. These field trips could be a couple hours or extend overnight, allowing the community to experience the tinkering process and expanding their own curiosities. 

Project dependent, I would be open to creating a contest where a lucky designer could accompany me and my team on an excursion, acting as an assistant. Ideally, they would have the opportunity to write about their experience or create a video essay for the Adobe blog and social channels.


Collabs

While I expect the above project will take significant amounts of time to coordinate and test, I plan to pepper smaller projects with other designers into my schedule. Below are several individuals with whom I'm already spoken about combining forces this year.

Tim Lampe

Tim and I have conceptualized the series, Dinomeat, a series of prehistoric food imagery utilizing his neo-90s aesthetic and my affinity for sculpting meat. Supplies would include $60-80 worth of meat, plastic dino legs, and travel expenses to ATL.

 

Joseph Alessio

Joseph and I have collaborated several times in the past year, usually marrying my photography and his motion skills. Together we've discussed several unrelated projects themed around music visuals. Supplies could be as low as $30, as high as $75, and travel expenses to DEN.

 

Alea Toussaint

Alea and I remotely created a charming Christmas pattern series, given that our work is so similar in form. Her patterns are stunning and smart, and I'd love to foster her growth while incorporating my dimensional type sensibilities. I'd love to explore working on complex imagery in person in hopes of licensing the images as home goods or wrapping paper. Supplies vary significantly including travel expenses to MPS.

 

Danger Dust

Now a single force of chalk excellence, Dusty and I have discussed combining forces on a small series of quotes that highlight her chalk talent and my use of food. We would utilize several top down shots, possibly suspend or project objects off the surface. Supplies would vary, requiring mostly time and travel expenses either to CHR or for her to CMH.

 

Kyle Steed

Kyle and I have spoken about working on a food mural utilizing his loose, illustrative style but incorporating lettering and creating with food. Supplies would cover the construction and testing of a drywall area, food supplies and travel expenses to either DAL or CMH, possibly elsewhere if we can find a sponsor.

 


Beyond the above listed projects, I have digital and physical sketchbooks bursting with new ideas, techniques, and quick projects that only require time to be properly curious. I certainly have the appetite to create something bolder than I've previously dared to dream and hope to partner with Adobe on these endeavors. 

Thank you for your consideration. Get in touch with me.