We spoke on 16th December 2020
For anyone that doesn’t know, who is Dani Molyneux?
For some reason, this is the hardest question! I’m a graphic designer. I’m pretty short. I love words. I’m originally from St Helens (which is world-class in glass). I’ve worked in London, Liverpool, Leeds, and Manchester. And I secretly wish I was French – or Japanese – (depending on what day it is). During the pandemic, I’ve made wild plans to move to Maastricht, the Scottish Highlands, and a French châteaux. (’m still in South Manchester as it happens).
Work shots by Laura Hutchinson
Portrait by Mark Howe
So what got you into design?
I was never without my sketchbook as a kid. But graphic design was more of a happy accident than a plan. I’d always wanted to be a fashion designer, and had an ongoing collection of very dubious 80s creations on the go. But as my school and 6th form didn’t do much in the way of fashion, I kept ending up in the Textile classes, making batik kiwi fruit patterns. Which is fine of course, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I had an awesome tutor during my Art Foundation year who introduced me to graphic design. I liked the practical
useful-ness of it combined with the exploration of concepts and ideas. I then went on to study at Leeds Arts University.
Leading on from this, what draws you towards typography?
I’m well into words and language. My favourite subjects at school were Art, English, and French. And typography is like a fusion of all those things. (well not French so much). There is power in language. And typography is words as image, so I love it. I’m not super technical. But I’m drawn to the expressive type. Type that makes you feel something or brings the words to life, makes you remember them, and creates a picture in your mind.
I noticed you have tried being both freelance as well as in an agency, do you have a preference, or was it due to circumstance?
After art school, I assumed that working in an agency was the next step. I did a few internships and got lucky with my first design job in London soon after. I found agency experience invaluable albeit with some challenges. I met tonnes of awesome people and learnt a whole lot of stuff that made the transition to freelancing much easier on me. Later down the line, I’d started to consider freelancing but ultimately it was the circumstance that kicked me up up the arse. I was working in Liverpool at a great studio. But it was a long daily commute from Manchester, and this had started to take its toll. I had taken some time out to have my daughter, so I made a decision to ditch the commute and work for myself. There are benefits and challenges to both ways of working. It depends on circumstance and motivation of course, but I love the flexibility and freedom it’s brought.
I noticed you are the Manchester Co-host for Ladies, Wine & Design. Tell me more about this.
I was the co-host – we’ve recently passed the baton on to Katie, Lauren, and Haseena of Fresh Magazine. Myself and Danielle Gaboury kicked off the Manchester chapter around three years ago. We were frustrated with the boringly predominately male senior teams in the creative world. We wanted to make space for conversation, collaboration, and a championing of alternative voices. It seemed so ridiculous that this was still the case. I hadn’t noticed earlier on in my career, but as I became more senior, it became glaringly obvious. After three years of LW&D, we want to open up these and other conversations to a wider audience. So Tali Cahani, Penny Lee, and myself are working on a new project, The How, which we’ll be gently launching in 2021.
In 2017 you founded your studio (Dotto Studio), was this something you always wanted to do?
No, not really. I thought I’d wanted to be Creative Director at some hotshot global agency when I started out. But I’d had a few confidence knocks throughout my career and I sort of drifted for a while. When I started freelancing, I started exploring different possibilities. I wanted to push for the kind of work that I enjoyed and believed in. I started Dotto slowly and quietly, then started to build up work and clients from there.
For my final question, what is next for Dani Molyneux?
Work-wise, I plan to work with good people. And carve out more time for creative exploration. Getting back into some traditional print methods, with lots of experimentation. I want a decent balance between the corporate and the creative. I’m going to write more too. Alongside my practice, I’ll continue some sort of community-led stuff through The How. Ultimately the goal is to make good work, be happy about it, and challenge where I’d like to see change. And personally, I’m looking forward to a decent night out, a bunch of gigs, the theatre, and many, many hugs.