If you’ve ever eyed a magazine rack and been struck by a cover design with crisp, clean lines evocative of a 50s diner, a bold and distinctive use of color, and a font design that seems organic to the illustration, then you’ve seen the work of Daniel Pelavin. He can actually make the Fortune cover for its annual Fortune 500 survey look cool. Daniel makes a great addition to our Creators Across America video series.
Designing typography has long been a part of Daniel’s work as an illustrator, and that love has led him to create many fonts that he now offers for sale online. I’ve never really thought about the origin of fonts. Nowadays they’re just in your word processing program under a tab, when I was younger they magically transported themselves from long metal sticks on manual typewriters to spiffy rollerballs on the “modern” IBM Selectric. But Daniel sees letter forms that don’t actually exist until he puts them into fixed form.
I interviewed Daniel, a Graphic Artists Guild member, in his Tribeca studio. We had the window open, and as Daniel put it, this allowed us to “gain the splendid ambience of frustrated New Jerseyites honking their way into the Holland Tunnel.”
It’s hard to see in the video, but his studio is filled with great kitsch that speaks to a simpler America. Toy cars, simple robots and other magical products in bold colors and shapes fill the shelves. You can see such whimsy in his designs on his web site and blog.
Oh, and for those finicky about video set in New York – no, the stock footage I took of New York cabs and pedestrians was not filmed in Tribeca. The footage is in fact from midtown Manhattan; my apologies. I mention this because Daniel and I spoke for a bit about how many movies are set in New York, and how they often are completely unrealistic (people suddenly going from Times Square to Brooklyn, etc.). In my defense, had I filmed the “traffic” near Daniel’s studio, the footage would have been of unmoving cars with New Jersey license plates, each hoping to cut off the driver next to them. Since motion pictures should involve motion, I’m okay with my editorial decision.