Dana Tanamachi


Brooklyn, NY

Dana Tanamachi is a New York City-based designer, illustrator and founder of her eponymous design practice, Tanamachi Studio. She has been commissioned globally by clients such as Target, Nike, Google, Penguin Books, The Obama Foundation and The Library of Congress. Her work can be seen on everything from USPS postage stamps, to large-scale immersive murals, to the covers of TIME and O The Oprah Magazine.

“I was a total horse girl.”

What did you get in trouble for as a kid? Anything adults told you to avoid that’s actually a big part of your life now?

Trouble? I don’t know her. I am the oldest daughter in an Asian & Latino household, so there was no messing around! If anything, maybe I should’ve gotten in more trouble.

Any person who really helped you in your awesome artistic journey?

I owe a lot to my two mentors, former professor Meta Newhouse, and former boss, Louise Fili. I sought Meta’s guidance as one of her design students in university, and I am so grateful for the time she took to meet with me and help me improve my portfolio pieces before graduation. I felt her care and wisdom sent me out into the workforce with confidence. A couple years after moving to New York, I landed my dream job in Louise Fili’s studio. I had fallen in love with her vintage-inspired
typography, books and packaging years before, so this was a dream come true. Louise showed me what a successful, decades-long career running a female-led studio looked like. Her work is heavily influenced by the past, yet remains as relevant and timeless as ever.

Listen to music while you work?

Reggaetón, Bachata and Latin Pop, with the occasional '80s/'90s country and showtunes thrown in for good measure.

What was your favorite thing to draw as a child? Why did that lodge in your head?

I loved drawing blueprints of my future dream home as a kid. I’d do it on road trips in the car. They were always very structured and practical, with extra rooms for all my future doggos. I also really loved drawing horses. I was a total horse girl from ages 6 to 8.

Any activities, exercises or strategies to pull yourself out of the occasional artistic rut?

If I’m stuck, I’ll usually buy myself a cheap ticket to a Broadway show. I'll take myself on a solo date and leave the theater so inspired. It’s a guaranteed pick-me-up, and the soundtrack continues to inspire for weeks after. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

What’s your biggest art inspiration? This may not be visual. Like, anything!

I love looking at crafts and handiwork from different cultures, specifically ones with floral elements. Japanese textiles and patterns, Mexican ceramics and embroidery, Jordanian mosaics, painted wood crafts from so many cultures around the world.