Introducing: Daniël Maarleveld

Daniël is an Amsterdam-based creative with a strong interest in generative design and kinetic typography. Always searching for unexplored possibilities of new or existing techniques based on mathematical or mechanical principles, Daniël blends his superior programming skills with experimental methods to create brand-elevating solutions that push at the edges of innovation.


Tell us a bit about yourself… What's your story?

I am a graphic designer, animator, and coder based in Amsterdam, with a strong interest in generative design and kinetic typography. I have been researching the visual output of machines and algorithms for years. This fascination was born out of a wish to escape design dogmas. The tight logic and rules of algorithms give me the freedom to discover new visual handwriting.

How did you get into kinetic typography?

I have always had a great interest in typography since an early age. Since graduating in 2007 with the PenJet project, an ordinary printer that shows the underlying logic of a desktop printer by attaching a pen, I discovered the joy of having a generative approach to type. Over the years, this generic approach slowly shifted to animation, as a generative approach lends itself quite well to animate the difference between parameters.

Your process involves using coding to animate your designs. How did you develop this technique?

I didn’t always use code. I started out hacking or misusing software to reveal its underlying logic. This made me discover a lot of mathematical principles that are intertwined in my work today. I always try to think about how an algorithm can be used. This gave me a database of methods I can use. Lately, I am also really addicted to Cavalry, a 2D motion software that lets you combine the power of generative design with the easing and control of animation software.

You have an incredibly curious, solution-focused mind that means you’re always searching for innovative design/tech to elevate standard type design - where does this curiosity come from, and could you give us some examples of where this curiosity has led you project-wise?

I think I am just curious and like a good challenge. I ask myself a lot of questions about what is possible with typography. When I come up with an idea, I can't wait to see and test it. Trying out an idea allows me to see its possibilities, which usually generates new ideas and challenges. For instance, the other day, a client approached me asking if I could generate 1000 unique gif animations for the first early adopters of a domain launch. I got so excited by the challenge of solving this puzzle! Sometimes, work I've made ends up on agency mood boards, and, in the end, I get hired to do the job since people don't know how it's made, because it makes use of new techniques I developed.

What role do you think typography and motion design play in brand building and brand expression?

Lately, there is a big shift from print to screens design-wise, giving a lot of new possibilities to utilise type. "Motion-first" projects are becoming more common, and motion is recognised as a tool to give personality to a project. Unique motion and design can really make a project stand out.

Which of your projects do you think shows the most effective use of typography/motion and why?

I think probably the animated typeface I made for Crafts Academy. The movement of the typeface seems simple and complex at the same time, making you look at it for a long time, trying to figure out what you are looking at

To what extent do you think your work is about the process, as opposed to the outcome?

I sometimes see myself more as a tool builder, where I try to figure out the limits of what a flexible identity system can be. I first build a rigid system, and when I define the rules and constraints, I love to play with the new possibilities this tool gives me. One example is the identity for the Soundbar Doka in Amsterdam, where I made a tool to generate an ever-evolving identity used in social media and projection for the bar.

Does your creativity manifest in any other ways?

I love to cook and play drawing games like exquisite corpse with my two daughters.

You’re based in Amsterdam - what's your favourite thing about where you live?

What I like about Amsterdam is the wide range of cultural offerings: museums, music venues, and festivals, and the cultural diversity in general.

Lastly, any dream clients?

Lately, I was asked to create VJ visuals for a concert, and I enjoyed this very much since it gave me the opportunity to make a lot of new material. But any client that really gives you the artistic freedom and trust to make something out of the box is a dream client in my opinion.

See Daniel's portfolio here.