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Dana Tanamachi and the 2021 National Book Festival Poster

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"Open a Book, Open the World": 2021 Library of Congress National Book Festival poster
“Open a Book, Open the World,” 2021 Library of Congress National Book Festival poster by Dana Tanamachi

Original artwork has traditionally been the visual centerpiece for the National Book Festival. We’re excited to unveil the poster for this year’s festival, designed by Dana Tanamachi, a New York City-based artist, designer and owner of Tanamachi Studio. You can download a high-resolution PDF of the poster, plus view and download other festival posters through the years from our National Book Festival poster gallery.

Tanamachi shares some thoughts on the design process for the poster, her vision for capturing the theme of this year’s festival, “Open a Book, Open the World,” and her love for working on book-related projects.

Tell us a bit about your background as an artist.

After receiving my degree in communication design from the University of North Texas, I moved to New York City in 2008 for my first job, designing Broadway show posters. It was such a thrill for a typography-and illustration-lover like myself. Each week, I would have the opportunity to work on poster art for shows spanning an array of time periods, so my design history was really put to the test. After that, I had the honor of working under design icon Louise Fili, creating vintage-inspired typography for restaurants, books and food packaging. It was at Louise Fili Ltd that I honed my eye and skill for Art Deco- and Art Nouveau-inspired design and lettering, specifically. In the fall of 2011, I launched Tanamachi Studio, which at the time, focused mainly on large-scale typographic chalk murals. During that season, I had the honor of creating chalk art for the covers of O, The Oprah Magazine, TIME, and three classic children’s books—“Peter Pan,” “Pippi Longstocking” and “The Wizard of Oz” — for Penguin Books, which was a dream come true.

In 2013, I transitioned into more traditional painted murals and also returned to my roots of book illustration and packaging design. Since then, I have had the honor of creating multiple large-scale murals for Starbucks specialty stores, as well as designing a gold foil “Thank You” Forever stamp for the USPS in 2020. I truly love what I do, and I am so grateful to be celebrating 10 years of Tanamachi Studio this fall.

What interested you in contributing to this year’s National Book Festival?

What piqued my interest the most was looking through the archive of all the posters from previous years. Some of my favorite artists and illustrators, whom I admire and respect greatly, have lent their time and talents to create a phenomenal visual legacy for the festival. It was an incredible honor to follow in their footsteps and create the poster for 2021.

What was your creative process for translating the theme of this year’s festival, “Open a Book, Open the World,” into the idea for the poster? What was your inspiration?

When I began considering all the imagery involved in a book festival, I started with the most obvious—actual books! It dawned on me that an open book could also look like a blossoming flower, and the ideas started to flow instantly. I envisioned a wild garden, like something out of “Alice in Wonderland” or “Jack and the Beanstalk,” with blooming books that could transport readers to alternate worlds. It was these worlds that inspired me to add the stars and ombré background, to convey a sense of vastness, wonder, adventure and exploration. Books and flowers both open up and invite us in to behold beauty, mark the seasons and experience change and growth. Combining the two images felt like the perfect metaphor.

Tell us about a book project you are proud of.

I spent over a year working with Michiko Kakutani, the former chief book critic at The New York Times, on her recent book, “Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread.” It’s a collection of all the books she deems essential reading — and she would know, she’s read it all! I got to create full-page illustrations for over 30 of the titles, including “The Odyssey,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The Woman Warrior,” “A Handmaid’s Tale,” the “Harry Potter” series and more! The illustrations were inspired by vintage bookplates, and it was a fun challenge to distill each book into a single image. I felt like I read so much during that project, between the actual books, summaries and Michi’s notes! It was a joy from start to finish.

Artist Dana Tanamachi. Photo by Jen Trahan

This interview was conducted by Leah Knobel, a public affairs specialist in the Office of Communications. Join us for the 2021 National Book Festival, Sept. 17-26. Audiences are invited to create their own festival experience this year, with programs in a range of formats. Subscribe to this blog for future updates on the festival, and visit the festival website.

Comments (17)

  1. Hi, will this poster be printed and given out?

  2. Thank you for a beautiful art poster!
    If the festival is only virtual, how do I get a copy of it?

  3. Poster is beautiful. I am a middle school librarian. May I purchase a copy of it, please, for our school library?

  4. This is lovely!

  5. Hello my name is Roshaunda Alexander Author of book titled Mother daughter Bond!Would like 2 know how 2 participate with introducing my book ♥️ Thanks!

    • Thanks for your interest! The author nomination process for each year takes place between December 1 and February 28. Potential participating authors must be nominated by their respective publishers, and preferred candidates are usually popular, nationally known authors who have won book awards at the national level. Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate all authors who wish to present and sign at our festival — more than 300 qualified authors, illustrators and poets are nominated each year to participate, and around 100 individuals are selected to present.

  6. Beautiful!

  7. How may I obtain a non-folded copy of the poster?

  8. I love the colors and overall design of this poster. I really enjoyed reading a bit about the process of coming up with this design-and the path of the artist to this point. I will send this to all the school librarians I know (since you can download the image!) and hope to see it displayed in many schools for all to enjoy. It’s definitely my favorite to date.

  9. Will the National Book Festival poster be available for sale at the National Book Festival in September, 2021 ?

  10. I really love the poster.. I really see the influence of David Lance Goines.. His posters and art for Alice Waters cookbooks.

  11. Please share the process to retrieve a copy of Open a Book, Open the World,” 2021 Library of Congress National Book Festival poster by Dana Tanamachi.

    Acquanetta Poole

  12. Beautiful women and beautiful project! Congratulations, Dana!

  13. We congratulate UNT CVAD Alumna Dana Tanamachi, (2007, BFA, Communication Design)! #UNTCVAD

  14. Thank you very much

  15. How absolutely wonderful that this gracious lady of such remarkable talent, education and experience is being recognized through her elegant work celebrating the tradition of something so valuable. And now we all get to be introduced to the artist Dana Tanamachi. It makes me so happy that Ms. Tanamachi is making a living doing what she loves. How delightful. Thank you for this interview.

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