Studio Visits: Dana Covit & Kimi Lewis

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Teamwork is the dreamwork for Los Angeles based creatives Dana Covit and Kimi Lewis. Here we learn more about their partnership and how they collaborate on creating compelling and powerful stories through the art of visual language and content. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your background?

Dana Covit - For better or for worse, I have always been a dabbler. I moved to Los Angeles to get my masters in film studies and bopped around doing archival research, visual research, and trying out production design a bit after that. But I am primarily a writer, and have written for websites, magazines, travel guides (you name it) over the years. I am pretty sure I first stumbled into copywriting by simply saying “yes” to something that seemed a little different. I felt curious enough to see if my love of words and storytelling would mean I could get down with this new “type” of writing. Totally got down—I love that every new project presents different challenges and opportunities. 

Kimi Lewis - I’m a graphic designer here in Los Angeles with a background in illustration and textile design. Now I run a small design studio with Dana that services different clients needing anything from branding to a strategic social media package. Having two different backgrounds but the same eye for things puts us at a unique advantage. We work smoothly together and can take on any type of work.

DC - I had been quietly admiring Kimi’s graphic design work for a long time. We started working together pretty casually—really just combining our strengths to create something more complete. I know people always warn against working with friends, but I feel pretty darn thrilled to be doing it right now. It makes working way more fun. We are constantly sending each other fun things we’re inspired by. It’s the best.

How did you both meet one another? 

KL - We first met at an ugly sweater party around Christmas time a few years ago. I was wearing a knitted cactus sweater that lit up with tiny lights and Dana was wearing a kind of dreadful/rad bell-sleeved sweater with giant earrings. 

DC - I love that! That sounds right. We are in a shared friend group and I just always thought Kimi seemed cool and also nice (what a concept!). Girl crush territory, for sure. A few of us went on a trip out to Lake Arrowhead here in California and I remember noticing all of the patterned clothing she was wearing and kinda just knew we’d vibe.

Have you always lived in LA? 

KL - It feels like it, but no… I've moved around a bit - straight out of school I moved to Portland for about a year and then SF for about 2-3 for a really incredible job at Moving Brands. You would think that I would try a few other cities out but the weather and all the nature destinations here can’t be beat. Love that I could be in the desert in the morning and sitting on the beach for sunset if I wanted to.

DC - I’m originally from New Jersey but I’ve been in LA for around five and a half years now, which is crazy. Time flies when you’re exploring the American West, I guess! The first two years I was in grad school at UCLA, so that definitely feels like a separate chapter of living in this city. Before LA I was in New York, and I also spent four years in Baltimore while in college. Baltimore really shaped me as a creative person, I think. It is such a quirky and unique place. It is buzzing with that DIY creative energy: city streets with scraps of trash turned into art, restaurants adorned with discarded mannequin parts and plastic toys popping out from the walls. It makes you look at things differently. It made me look at everything with a certain kindness and wonder. 

And I totally agree with Kimi about LA. This city is special to me for many reasons, but the nature really gets me. Going for a walk at golden hour and noticing the bright colors and fun textures gives me LIFE. Escaping to the Mojave Desert or Ojai in just a few short hours, seeing the Pacific Ocean appear in the distance like a mirage as you’re driving up the PCH… these things really do not get old.

What's your creative process like when working on a new project?

There is no set process. Every project is different and demands different things of us. But one thing that we always do is get really, genuinely excited about the work. We will very honestly geek out about it. We will send each other a near-constant stream of related and also totally unrelated bits of inspiration. We sit down and make sure we can both take the project on (we each have other part-time jobs and work to  compete with), and then, we get to work.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

KL - I know this is cliche but honestly most of my inspiration comes from traveling. I go to Mexico a lot because I feel the most creatively charged when I’m there -- love the hand-painted signs, eclectic house colors and desert terrain, the architecture and the music. 

DC - Oh yeah, travel is a big one. I think there is a science to it. When you are in a place that is not your everyday environment, the inspiration whispers a little more loudly, you know? I am also hugely inspired by nature and science, by discovery and learning and by being exposed to new things. I am massively inspired by existing in a state of curiosity. My friends are also a huge source of inspiration for me.  Strangers, too. The world is full of so much wonder, you guys.

Any tips on how to stay organized?

KL - For work we use Trello and Slack to track projects and keep communication in one place. 

DC - You will laugh, but I seriously love Slack. Because Kimi and I are friends who might also wish to talk about non-work-related things (i.e. shoes, trips to Mexico City, sushi), I think it’s hugely important to have work conversations in a consensual place. I wouldn’t want our friendship conversations to be eclipsed by work conversations, because I think our work relationship is enriched by our friendship!

What are you currently working on? Tell us more about it!

We are working on a few different projects at the moment but the favorite right now is the branding of a local perfumer who goes on these spectacular journeys to source all of the perfume’s natural ingredients. We have had the pleasure of working with her on the initial branding phase, packaging, website, as well as messaging and social media. She is a magical client because she has such a great sense of style and is also a great communicator. There is also a conservation angle to the project, which combined with the really elevated aesthetic of the product has really been a dream.

Dream collab -- what would it be?

Alright, since we’re talking dreams… NASA, Neutra Architecture, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics!? Also, coming down to Earth a bit, a printing press (yay books! We just recently fell in love at the LA Art Book Fair with this incredible press based out of New Jersey called Conveyor Editions), anything whatsoever in Japan (seriously), a restaurant, a museum, a psychic service... And! Space 15 Twenty. 

We both are really attracted to the idea of bringing our more digitally-oriented work into the “real world” of touch, feel, and experience. We are always talking about pop-up installation and conceptual multi-use spaces that get people excited to learn, discover, and engage with objects as well as ideas and each other.

What's next for your partnership?

To keep doing what we’re doing—to continue working with inspiring humans on all kinds of projects that expand our perception of what is possible.

And… to make this still very new studio more official with a name we can work under!

Lastly, any advice for young artists or creatives trying to figure it out?

Travel. Go to museums. Go for walks and notice the people and things around you. Talk to strangers. Tumble down the rabbit hole of your own fleeting curiosity about things you don’t know a thing about. Find a mentor, or a friend, who is generous and honest about their knowledge and how they got it. Know that everything in life is an experiment, and that even failures provide excellent learning opportunities. In fact, get used to failing—get great at it. Say “yes” to the things that make your heart flutter and/or want to talk a mile a minute about the possibilities. Surround yourself with things and people that give you those same feelings.

Follow Dana and Kimi on Instagram!