Danielle Truckenmiller

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Danielle Truckenmiller and I am a creative with an entrepreneurial spirit, specializing in graphic design and photography.  

Where are you from?

Originally I’m from a super small rural town (population around 800), Milledgeville Illinois. I moved out to Palos Heights in 2010 to attend college at Trinity Christian College and I currently reside in Midlothian, Illinois.

How did you get started?

I started my creative journey in high school. With both photography and design, I don’t think I knew what I was doing until I actually got some feedback on my work. But I would say that my beginning motivation was my own curiosity.

With photography, I started working with a basic digital camera in my backyard; taking pictures of anything from landscape to portraits of my dog. I quickly learned that I love the different angles and perspectives I could create by snapping a photo. After I discovered this I started venturing out and taking portraits of my friends, and capturing places that my family and I would go to, including but not limited to the event of the year, the county fair.

As for graphic design, I took a computer graphics class my junior year. I specifically remember we had a project that we had to manipulate ourselves into a movie poster of our choice using Photoshop. Trust me, my final piece wasn’t anything that I would boast about today, but at the time it was something I took total pride in. I enjoyed the whole process. Using my creativity to create something new and learning new skills that were needed to finish the project.

After graduating high school I traveled about 120 miles East to attend Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights. At first I dual majored in business and art because I felt the decision was more practical. But after much deliberation and convincing from one of my art professors, I chose Art Studio as my one and only major with an emphasis in graphic design and a minor in business and art history. This allowed me to learn more than just the theory of design. I learned how art worked within the world, why it was important to our culture and how to relate to it. It also helped me learn about my own style, and who I am as a creative.

I started off running my own freelance business, DLT Design and Photography, doing engagement sessions, weddings, portraits, and some side design jobs throughout college while working as a full-time student and interning at the Park and Recs department. To say I was a little busy was an understatement, but I loved it!

Once I graduated from Trinity in 2014, I dove right into full-time employment. I worked a variety of jobs that helped me grow within my creative skills and abilities including but not limited to, photo editing, layout design, branding, marketing and advertising. Without all these career opportunities I don’t think I would be where I am today. Being put into all those positions allowed me to learn different personal and technical skills.

I currently am a full-time graphic designer at Faith Church as well as continuing my business, DLT part-time.

Do you have a side hustle or hobbies?

I do! Just to name a few:

I am the owner and lead creative of DLT Design & Photography. It definitely has passed my initial focuses since I started it in college and it has become its own creative entity offering more than just the basics. . Founded in 2012, DLT specializes in a variety of work including but not limited to photography, videography, branding, and design.

I recently started a podcast with my friend from LA. Both of us realized that being a millennial puts a ton of pressure put on you to succeed. Not only from your peers, but from yourself. So we started thinking, what if we weren’t a success, and we were well, just decent? That’s how our podcast Decent started. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s a space where we talk about how we don’t find ourselves exceptional nor too far-gone, but you know, just decent. Hopefully we can reach out to people our age going through the same thought processes with life, going through student loans, finding a decent job, and finding your own realm of success through it all.

I teach a variety of different art classes ranging from typography to advertising for young adults between 7th and 12th grade at the Teen Bridge Center in Orland Park.

I also am a co-leader of a photography group at Faith Church in Dyer, Indiana. In this group I help motivate and teach other photographers different skills and techniques with photography.

And I’m a fur mom to the one and only Wrigley Parker. So going to Montrose Dog Beach at least twice a month is a must.

What was one of your biggest mistakes and what did you learn from it?

I would say that in the beginning of my career I jumped into employment opportunities too quickly without learning fully about the position and the company, which lead to a lot of “job hopping”. I would start off into a position that I thought was great, but soon learned after a month or two that it wasn’t for me, so I would find something else immediately. I guess I was so excited at the beginning of my career because people were interested in working with me that I would take any position even if it wasn’t the right fit. I learned this isn’t the right mindset to have when it comes to finding a job. You’re interviewing the establishment as much as they’re interviewing you. Having full-time employment somewhere is a big deal because you’ll be there 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. If you’re spending that much time in one place you need to make sure it’s somewhere you enjoy, and the job is something you can give 100% effort towards.

What are the top tools you need to do your job?

My camera, computer, Adobe software and a positive, driven attitude

Who or what inspires you and why?

Lettering artist and food typographer Danielle Evans. She manipulates food and objects into words and letters in very unconventional ways. Her creativity and attention to detail really wows me and it inspires me to see that her craft became her career. She had her work used for advertisements for clients like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Disney and McDonalds.  

Marina Abramovic’s performance work “The Artist is Present” is also a big influence and inspiration to me. It’s a simple yet dramatic presentation to show the emotional connection between two people. Being a photographer and graphic designer my work is meant for people to look at and to obtain some sort of emotion from it. To see two strangers sitting in front of one another in Marina’s piece being taken by emotion was nothing short of inspiring. In a field that requires you to be behind a computer or camera constantly you can easily forget you are in the same position of those two people sitting in front of one another.  

What do you love about Northwest Indiana?

The community! It’s encouraging to see all the different events happening within the area. There’s always something to do!

What resources are you finding to educate yourself?

Ted Talks and a variety of online sources and blogs such as MyModernMet and Art21.

What advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?

Keep working. Even if you don’t want to, or have no reason to, keep working. You’ll develop your skills, train your eye and create an awesome portfolio. There’s no excuse not to. When you give 100% you’ll get 100%.

What’s next for you? 

For me I really feel like some different avenues for my creative journey are really opening up. I truly feel like I’m not confined to the box of only being a photographer or graphic designer but I am an entrepreneur, and full creative. So I’m really excited to see what doors will be opening!

Where can we find you?