BUTTER is Back!

Short Films and Fatboys + Buttering Up with Danielle Evans

Our monthly film screening series BUTTER: A Night of Pop Culture and Popcorn has returned! After a brief hiatus while ADC brought our show on the road for the 93rd Annual Awards judging in Costa Rica and the ADC Festival of Art + Craft in Advertising and Design in Miami Beach, BUTTER is back on the calendar for this Tuesday, April 29th!

The event is open to anyone who could use some creative diversion, featuring a curated presentation of short documentaries, animations, music videos, and award-winning spots, all hand-picked by a diverse panel of industry creatives and taste-makers. Creative directors, copywriters, movie geeks, illustrators — we’ve welcomed every kind of creative you can imagine to the ADC Gallery for drinks, thought-provoking films, and usually some great conversation long after the projection screen has been rolled up.

If you’ve been salivating while reading, you have Danielle Evans to thank (or blame): the delicious lettering you see above was commissioned by the awesome art director, food styler, and typographer otherwise known as Marmalade Bleue. You might recognize her unique Food Type from Target’s Food for Thought campaign or her work for The Guardian and countless other brands with a penchant for the hand made. We had a chance to talk to Danielle about her craft before we get together on Tuesday for some sweet screenings.

ADC: How do you make working with food new for yourself each time? What about this medium makes it continually refreshable and inspiring?

Danielle: Each experience, unless requiring materials I’ve worked with before, starts from scratch. Because I’m working with granules, liquids, and clumps, each treatment requires a new approach. The satisfaction of mastering a new medium is unparalleled, especially after days of swearing and struggling. I do experiment and have expanded into inedible materials, which have challenged my sense of scale.

ADC: How did butter compare to the other food materials you’ve worked with? Did you have to experiment with temperatures and consistencies before getting it right?

Danielle: Butter is one of the most challenging, as the melting point is really low. For this piece, I had to chill and store the project over the course of three days before it was ready to shoot. I would make basic shapes from 4-5 lbs of cubed butter, molding the cubes slowly into a basic word shape, cutting away to make the refined letterforms. Usually I craft the whole phrase on the same board, but due to size, each word had to be photographed separately and composited. This proved challenging when the butter began to melt. I broke most of the letterforms in transit to the surface and had to shoot a second day. However, the light was more consistent and I had an opportunity to improves several curves, which made the phrase more uniform.

ADC: Many designers and letterers work exclusively in a digital format, or at least have to communicate their thoughts through pencil at first. Do you think that working directly with your hands attunes you differently to the possibilities of typography?

Danielle: Working by hand sets the limit of my physical abilities outright. I know when additional lettering is too small because it’s too tiny for my fingers and can project how long my back will hold up before I need a break. I need some perimeters or I become overwhelmed by possibility. The computer is an amazing tool (I use it daily as part of my workflow), but it cheapens my choice-making at the onset of a project. My work inadvertently involves drop shadows and bevels created from objects piling up on themselves, which informs my eye when I’m creating vector lettering. Working with my hands is like life drawing for lettering —  I become aware of what is physically possible and how to tweak the characters without maligning their integrity.

ADC: Why do you think there’s been such a trend toward a hand-made design style the celebrates imperfections recently? 

Danielle: I think the handmade trend stems from balking at skeumorphism’s pixel perfection and responding to a down-turned economy. In some ways, design has crested an age of digital realism, which isn’t unlike art history in the mid-1800s. Aesthetics became so overly shiny and austere in the tech boom that designers are migrating back towards simple work with a fingerprint. Beyond its economy, imperfection is courageous — designers are constantly judged by their best work, so advertising wonky Béziers or skewed baselines takes a stout heart. I think people find calculated mess with an expert hand lives between the digital and DIY worlds, making it irresistibly attractive. 

If you need a reminder to come to BUTTER on Tuesday, or just want a reason to smile, download the free iPhone and Desktop wallpapers popping with buttery goodness that Danielle has made available on her blog! We’re so thankful to her for churning out such a mouth-watering ode to the Night of Pop Culture and Popcorn — and for supplying us with an endless supply of delectable puns.

Once you’re phone and laptop are slathered up, grab your ticket to Tuesday’s BUTTER here and join us for beer and wine, unlimited popcorn, and some cinematic inspiration to melt away the workday’s stress and butter up your imagination (and inspire even more punning).