Cafe Grumpy held a ghoulish Halloween-themed latte art throw down at their original location in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood on Tuesday, October 28th. Grumpy barista Amanda Ventresca was the grand prize winner, taking home 160 bones and a spooky assortment of prizes from the folks at Seattle’s Synesso espresso machine company.

Like all good latte art throwdowns, it was a moment in time, and that time has now passed. But the poster for the event? This poster is timeless. Just look at that poster! It was created by artist and Grumpy barista Danie Drankwalter, whose impressive and delightful portfolio of work is a beauty to behold, basically. I just had to know more. I just had to send these emails.

Danie, can you tell me a bit about yourself, and your work in coffee and as an artist…and how those two worlds intersect?

I’m originally from Long Island and moved to Baltimore six years ago where I attended MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) and earned a BFA in Illustration in 2012. I moved to Brooklyn by way of California during the summer of 2013 and I’ve been at Café Grumpy since September of that year! In my opinion coffee and art definitely collide very directly, considering coffee’s inspiring nature the two are so often coupled together. For some folks creativity is nearly impossible without coffee! This is especially true for myself considering that both of my jobs revolve around it.

Grumpy recently commissioned a throwdown poster from you *and it was awesome*. Is this your first coffee commission? Are there others?

The Throwdown poster isn’t my first coffee commission; I’ve been working on brew guides (for several different brewing methods) for Café Grumpy for a while now! Ideally they should be out and about before the new year. Making the throwdown poster was especially fun since I was really given the freedom to do whatever I chose with it. The Halloween theme really allowed for me to think out of the box and have a great time with all of the scary/cute dismemberment.

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What’s the scariest/cutest form of dismemberment, in your opinion?

I really like the idea of really gross looking dismembered limbs (with their bones sticking out!) reanimated and completing very mundane tasks but drawn in a very silly and charming way!

Danie Drankwalter on bar (photo provided by artist)
Danie Drankwalter on bar (photo provided by artist)

Likewise! Tell us, is Cafe Grumpy is a good place to work, as an artist?

Café Grumpy definitely embraces barista arts! Most of our baristas are artists, musicians, actors and other creative folks and we are all pretty actively supported. Many of us have had the opportunity to hang our work in the cafés and promote our personal endeavors so it’s definitely a really great place to work as an artist!

What other artists work for Grumpy currently?

Oh boy! I’m gonna try to list all of the artists who I work with but I know I’m going to leave some folks out! Thea Heilbron, Tinu Oyelowo, Lee Vanderpool, Brad Chaffin, Shinto Imai, and Kevin Palomino.

We’ll look out for those names! Say, how much coffee do you drink? Does coffee help you *creatively*?

I drink a lot of coffee! At work I have a lot of really great espresso and the occasional cortado but at home I like to make single origin pour overs in my Hario V60. Caffeine definitely helps with the creative process! A lot of my work has many absurd themes and aspects to it and somehow coffee really helps to highlight the strange part of my brain.

What’s your preferred medium?

I really love working in matte acrylic inks and gouache. It creates really vibrant colors that are somehow both simultaneously flat and filled with depth! I’m also growing increasingly interested in linoleum cuts and DIY printmaking that can be done without the use of a printmaking studio set up.

Fabulous! Well thank you so much for the time!

It was a pleasure!

Check out more Danie Drankwalter art here.

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