we are so lucky to have dana damki on the blog today! take one look at dana's etsy and there is so much personality and fun for you to take part in right away. i love brands with so much fun + personality, i will get my brand there someday! it was so fun to hear more about what's behind her brand and how it came to be. enjoy!
what is your background?
i grew up in a small village in germany and - inspired by nature and animals - always loved drawing. when i became a teenager, i was quite bored by life in the countryside. there were a few interesting kids, mostly punks, and i started to hang out with them. we thought our village was super boring, but looking back it was quite beautiful as well.
after school i worked in a photographic laboratory in wiesbaden, germany for a few years and then studied graphic design. i still loved drawing, but was not confident enough to focus on illustration. instead i took part in all kinds of classes, from photography to typography. it was interesting and important, but i still regret a bit, that i didn't put much emphasis on illustration. after university, i went to japan and worked as a german teacher and later at a printing company, always drawing and making my own zines in my free time.
how did you start illustrating and selling?
i occasionally did paid illustrations for a german magazine while i lived in japan and i also drew for my self-printed zine "damki". in japan people love hand crafting, so i began to visit little art markets. i only had a part time job when i lived in osaka, so much time to draw and craft at home. i had rented a flat in an affordable area (it had no bathroom - i had to go to a public bath house every day!) with lots of space. after some time i started to exhibit my art and sell it at craft markets. it was quite hard though. when i returned to germany i opened my etsy shop and became much more successful in selling.
how did your style develop?
exploring tokyo and osaka inspired me a lot. i love walking through the streets and watching out for japanese illustrations, objects, products, color combinations, sounds, smells…..
in germany, everyday life in berlin inspires me. i like sketching with a pencil, then using a black fine-liner. i scan my sketch, work on it in photoshop, vectorize in illustrator and add colors there as well. sometimes i skip the computer part and just color it in my sketchbook. lately i’ve been trying to work with less outlines, as they are difficult to scale down. i like the idea of working with colored areas instead of lines.
what is your favorite project from the past year?
our son was born in november the year before last year, so last year was his first year of life. it was quite a challenge for us, but also my favorite project. i must admit i didn't have too much time to design things. i'm looking forward to do so soon, though!
what are you currently working on?
i’ve decided to add some riso prints to my etsy shop soon and i will illustrate a book with poems for children that my boyfriend wrote.
what are you looking forward to this year?
i'm looking forward to producing many more products for my shop, but this will mostly happen next year. and i have just been chosen as a finalist for the etsy design awards. you can vote for me here until september fourth and i might win a trip to new york! so please, go ahead blog-readers :) also looking forward to keep seeing our son grow up. can't wait until we can draw and craft together.
what advice would you give to makers who are just getting started?
it's important to occasionally add new products to your shop and sometimes change your shop banner (i have been really bad at this lately because of baby-stress). it's always good to produce things you really enjoy doing. i personally believe they will sell better than something only produced, because you think there is a "market" for it.
also: nice packaging and photos of your products are super important. and it's fun to have a cute shop :)
dana is giving away a copy of the 'in the park' screen print (pictured below) to three lucky readers! enter by leaving a comment with 1) your favorite product from dana's etsy and 2) your e-mail. giveaway ends at midnight on september 15th, pst. good luck! this giveaway is open internationally.