Dana Veraldi • DEERDANA
For our third installment of our BOSSES series, we’d like you to meet Dana Veraldi, otherwise known as DEERDANA. Actually, there’s a good possibility that you’ve already met her work. She’s best known for her line drawings of cultural icons, most commonly found on the front of a t-shirt. Her work strikes a rare balance of being funny, feeling natural, and being spot-on. And people have taken notice—beyond her loyal fans, some companies you may have heard of (Uber, Madewell, Playboy) like her work, too. You can even catch some underground names such as Jay Z, Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Jonah Hill rocking her shirts. No joke.
Tell us a bit about your creative background. Was this the road you planned to take after art school?
While in art school studying photography and graphic design I took a screen-printing class. I drew from my photos of my friends and ended up making shirts rather than prints on paper because I thought it was more fun to share my art as a wearable piece. I never intended to go into fashion, I thought I would stick to strictly design and photography. My career now includes all elements of my interests and majors in college - I designed my website and logo, I shoot a lot of my own photos for my company and I draw or paint all of my designs by hand.
Your work is so distinctive. How did you come to find your personal style?
I never was too hard on myself in terms of my designs - or my photos. Like any creative person there are times when I doubt myself but I try to be very instinctual and straight-forward with my work - from photo to drawing. Overtime a style was developed but without over-thinking it too much.
You started DEERDANA with your iconic line drawings of pets, your friends, and celebrities. Can you describe the experience of expanding that into work for corporate clients?
I have been quite lucky to work with corporate brands, learning from each experience and applying it to the next. In the beginning I was eager to learn from these jobs and often was not compensated well but knew in the long run it would be worth it. I have always tried to be generous with gifting my own product which is my only real PR/Marketing motto. I really love to work with a team and collaborate so being open to working with various clients and people has been helpful as well.
How do you like to collaborate with clients? Is it a standard commission? Or more of a back and forth?
All of my collaborations work differently. I have a talent manager who represents me as an artist and he helps me to navigate the fees and contracts for each job. I love working with him, he gives me great advice and helps to encourage me when I get overwhelmed. Since I work alone for the most part I rely on him a lot!
Outside of your artistic work, how have you adapted to being a small business owner?
The first few years of starting DEERDANA I worked part-time as a creative consultant for larger companies including Theory, Tory Burch and Trademark. Being immersed in their more corporate environments gave me an immense amount of knowledge that I was then able to apply to my own company. I have made a number of mistakes and learn each time, its been quite a journey.
Do you have a strategy for self-promotion? Or do you prefer to let things unfold naturally?
My only strategy is to remain true to myself and my interests - by only drawing people/things for my brand that I genuinely admire - and gifting my work whenever possible.
Where do you see DEERDANA in 5 years? How about 10?
I'd love to expand to add some more apparel and some home goods. It would be so fun to someday have a store in NY or LA! I will always continue to work with other brands and people outside of my own company because I love to collaborate and learn through projects.