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A Bearded Lady and a Hoarsefly Walk Into a Bar …

Written by in Color & Texture, Design Ranch Austin AIGA, Profiles

Whoa, Nelly!
Zombies, Cannibals,
and Blood Lust Bambie?
Abi Daniel  is Out There. Waaaay Out There.

Whether mixing inks at Bearded Lady print shop or crafting logos at Hoarsefly Design & Illustration, Abi Daniel is constantly refining and reimagining her creative output. You’d never know that illustrator/designer Abi Daniel started her career drawing zombies, wookies, and spaceships, as a concept artist at Sony Online Entertainment, as much of her work now has a broader, more ephemeral appeal.

After leaving Sony to find her own creative voice, she discovered that she really loved printmaking and etching. She eventually met and married designer Josh Chalmers in Austin, Texas, who runs Bearded Lady, a screen printing shop. She now helps him run the print shop and does client work under her moniker, Hoarsefly.

hoarsefly collage

Process sketch and final logo design for Austin cocktail bar,
King Bee Lounge, designed by Daniel.

Even though she says etching is her one true printing love, much of her work involves screen printing at Bearded Lady. “When I am doing design work for clients, I am almost always thinking about screen printing as the expression of that design. It differs from my illustration work in that regard.”

hoarsefly studioDaniel essentially has two offices: Hoarsefly is based in a room in her home, which consists of three desks—one with a computer, and two for watercoloring and woodburning. At Bearded Lady, she handles all the print separations for clients, designs products, and teaches workshops.

“I’m continually surrounded by very talented people who are working hard on their projects, and are stoked about the process. It’s a very positive, energetic vibe, and I think that’s possibly one of the nicest things about my life these days.” —Abi Daniel

Although she is truly happy when she gets a project where the client gives her free reign to interject her own style into the work, she loves working on print projects with Chalmers at Bearded Lady. “I’ve done several projects alongside my husband where the client hires me for illustration or design, and then hires the print shop to produce the actual materials. In those cases, I get to control the aesthetics from start to finish, right down to mixing the ink myself and assisting in the printing of the final product,” she says. “I generally take it for granted because it’s business as usual, but sometimes I check myself and realize that I’m lucky to be involved in the whole experience so often.”


Mishka Westell designed this poster and printed it at Bearded Lady
in three colors on Neenah ROYAL SUNDANCE® Kraft paper.

Daniel says that one of the many perks of running a print shop, includes collaborating with other local artists. “It’s a fantastic avenue to form relationships with creative peers, and it’s a busy, productive working environment. I’m continually surrounded by very talented people who are working hard on their projects, and are stoked about the process. It’s a very positive, energetic vibe, and I think that’s possibly one of the nicest things about my life these days,” she admits. In addition to hosting workshops, Bearded Lady also has a gallery space to display the works of local artists.

pint house pizzaAt Hoarsefly, clients primarily hire Daniel to design logos, t-shirts, posters, and packaging because of her unique, hand-crafted sensibilities. A recent project for Pint House Pizza in Austin, required her to create large, linework illustrations on wood paneling. She drew at full-scale, taping sheets of cover stock together and tacking them to the wall. “I got really big and gestural. It was refreshing to work that way … and oddly, fast,” Daniel says. She then photographed the different elements, and finalized the placement and overall layout in the computer, projecting the images on the wall. She then painted the two murals directly on the walls, each measuring 7 x 10 feet. Getting the lines and details just right, took her hours to complete.

2015 New Year

When she’s getting down to business at the print shop, she likes to use a toothy paper for her fine art prints and posters. For this 2015 New Year art print, she used Neenah STARDREAM® Paper in Fine Gold. She hand-drew the film positives, using a brush pen. “The metallic Stardream papers are really fun for special projects like this,” she notes. The image can be displayed right-side up or upside down.


If you’re lucky enough to attend Design Ranch in Austin this year, Abi Daniel will be teaching a workshop on her woodburning technique in which she infuses burned linework on wood with watercolor washes, as she did in the piece above. “It’s a pretty fun method, and the imperfections that happen along the way, add an unexpected dimension,” she says.