What's brewing with Grace Danico
IMG_20190406_160458_2.jpg

What’s brewing with Grace Danico

The funky beat and friendly food loving creative behind the latest lovable Take Care Coffee artwork.

April 10th, 2019

 
 

We’re super stoked to introduce you to Grace Danico. An artist and illustrator with a quixotic, endlessly colorful, and cheeky illustration style. We’re honored to have her bring a coffee loving moment to life for Take Care Coffee’s latest single origin coffee, Kochere Shifo from Ethiopia.

In honor of our shared appreciation of the sentiment, “Take care”, she’s kindly graced us (pun intended) with a very special Take Care playlist. Featuring a lineup of funky African jams and brilliant boogies, we highly recommend you get this started while you get on down and learn more about Grace below.

 
 
 

Can you describe how you got started in illustration?

Grace Danico: I’ve always drawn as a kid. I wanted to major in art during undergrad, but studied English instead. After college, a friend shared a website called Grain Edit with me, which specialized in featuring mid-century modern and contemporary design and illustration. I reached out to them, and worked as an Illustration Editor there for many years. Through that channel, I was able to meet and make friends with other illustrators and designers. I ended up pursuing a graduate degree in Library & Information Science at Pratt Institute in New York, and sharing a studio space with some friends in the Pencil Factory. They encouraged me to pursue illustration and the rest is history.

One challenge for some is simply getting started. Do you find this part of the creative process easy or hard? What do you need to get started?

GD: There will be times where I have an idea, and can move towards creating something effortlessly. Other times, it’s difficult to get started. I try my best to put myself “in the mood.” I usually play music or put on a video in the background to get started. Sometimes, I’ll look at a magazine (like Popeye) or books to get inspiration. 

 
 
IMG_20190406_161812_3.jpg

“I love working at home because I’m surrounded by all the things I love…”

 
 

What's your ideal place to work? (home, studio, cafe, etc.)

GD: I love working at home because I’m surrounded by all the things I love: my collection of plants, music, creative tools, and a kitchen! 

You have an incredibly diverse range of work: typography, branding, animation, art -- were they learned as needed or more self-motivated?

GD: It’s a mix. When I first started working as an illustrator, I did a lot of personal projects to build my portfolio. These were self-motivated, and as time went on, I learned skills as needed based on clients I worked with. Each project (personal or commercial) is an opportunity for me to try something new and push for something different. I love having a style, but I also love breaking out of my routine and trying something new.

 
 
IMG_20190406_161416_4.jpg

“Music sets the mood to eat and create.”

 
 

You've described instances where you like to either 'draw for yourself,' take breaks and do self-initiated projects. Are these important and why?

GD: These are important to stay fresh! I have an archive of work that’s just for myself. It’s important to keep a little something for yourself because so much of what we do is shared online. Drawing for myself feels great because it’s low stakes and low pressure; I can experiment and do what I want!

Breaks and self-initiated projects are also important as they act as mini vacations for my brain! I love taking walks, playing music, making snacks, and watering my plants. These breaks relieve stress from client work, and help me recharge and focus so I can feel energized when going back to work.

Similarly, is there an example of a skill or process you've worked on after-hours and for yourself, that is now a part of your repertoire or somehow influenced the way you work? How did it come to be?

GD: Through my playlist series, coincidentally also titled Take Care, I learned to work quickly in different styles and listen to a lot of music. The playlist came about in late 2016, when I was feeling low. To cheer myself and others up, I thought I would challenge myself by creating a playlist every week with new music and original artwork. This exercise allowed me to experiment and play, all the while making something I could share with others.

What advice can you offer those looking to try something new, and or make changes to their creative style?

GD: You have nothing to lose, so why not try? You’d be doing a disservice to your growth by not trying at all. People tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves when it comes to creating, but perfection shouldn’t be the goal.

You've shown music and food to be a huge influence on your work and as a motivator for you to create. Why is that and how does it influence your work?

GD: As much as I enjoy silence, life wouldn’t be the same without music or food; both fuel and inform my creative process. I have to eat for energy, so why not eat well? Music sets the mood to eat and create. The projects I enjoy most are music and food related, so the action of eating and listening to music directly influences my work.

If you could order any food or drink on demand for life, what would it be?

GD: Curry

 
 

Thank you Grace! You can keep up with Grace’s adventures and Take Care playlists on her Instagram, @gogograce. Photos by Debbie Cho.

 
Shop talk with Burrow of Brooklyn
14359642870_3a315cd9fb_o.jpg

Shop talk with Burrow of Brooklyn

 
 

Several years ago, when I lived and worked in Brooklyn, I came across a tiny coffee shop tucked away alongside an elevator lobby. Though technically they were mostly a patisserie, I was told that they wanted a storefront element and decided on offering coffee as a compliment to their pastries. At that time, Ayako Kurokawa and Wataru Iwata had just started the shop, but Ayako had been creating spectacular pastries for years – but this was the beginning of their big adventure as a small business.

They kindly allowed me to ask them some questions and take some photos of their space.

 
 

Why did you decide to open Burrow?

Burrow: Well, we had a cake catering business already for some time and it was growing to the point that we needed a permanent commercial kitchen.  Right after Hurricane Sandy, this space became available.  We were using only the kitchen area in the back as an atelier for about 1 year. Then we wanted to try something new.

You work with local, Bed Stuy based roaster, Kitten Coffee - why did you choose to work with them? (They now work with 95 RPM)

B: We read about Kitten Coffee in blog by a Japanese girl.  We preferred to work with a small roaster like Kitten. They roast coffee in small batches, hand delivered each week and also gave us barista training.

 
 
14544764514_2255b488ca_o.jpg
 
14542893441_7c0fd8d6a7_o.jpg
 
 

What aspect of running this business has been the most rewarding?

B: Same customers returning to our cafe. Some even have their favorite pairing cookie. This makes us very happy.

What aspect has been the most challenging?

B:We never had cafe experience.  Everyday is a learning process. I would say the biggest challenge is to keep opening everyday.

 
 
14542893451_7268daa88b_o.jpg
 
 

Burrow feels a little hidden, many people may walk by and never notice you’re here, is this something you struggle with or embrace?

B: We never advertised our catering business.  But so far we have lots of customers returning each year for their birthdays and anniversaries, and they send us personal thank you notes. We try to keep every customer that steps into Burrow by greeting them with smiles. We would like to keep Burrow as Burrow.

 
 

Since the time of this interview Burrow has continued to provide warm, kind service to thousands of visitors. Ayako has continued to make amazing creations with simple modest ingredients, and Burrow, however hidden, has many friends and thousands of followers. Go say hello to them at: 68 Jay St in Brooklyn and follow them on Instagram at @burr0w.