A love for letters: Get to know type designer Mark Caneso

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Get to know Type Designer, Graphic Designer, and Lettering Artist Mark Caneso! In an exclusive Dribbble interview, Mark takes us back to his roots and shares how his love for type got started. Get a glimpse into Mark’s current freelance lifestyle where he moves to a new state every year, and learn why he’s all about embracing the unfamiliar.

My name is Mark Caneso. I’m a Type/Graphic Designer. I run my own design studio as well as my digital type foundry. I’m currently based in Austin, Texas with an upcoming move in the works.

  1. Strength in Letters Pins

  2. Hello Stranger

  3. Only Nice Vibes Prints

How did you get started in design?

I grew up in Southern California which is where I got my design education. After high school, I went to Cypress Community College where my design career kind of started. I had an awesome instructor there that helped guide me and let me tackle real-world design projects—things like posters for exhibits at the College, and even a book design for his work. We ended up getting a Communication Arts award for that book in 2002.

After Cypress, I transferred to Otis College of Art and Design where I graduated in 2004 with a BA in Communication Arts (Graphic Design). At Otis is where I developed my deeper interest in typography. I felt like because type played such an important role in design that I should try drawing my own. It became a little bit of an obsession where I’d be designing type every night after work. Now, all I do is draw letters in some way shape or form.

What project(s) are you currently working on? 

I always have a variety of projects in one phase or another. I tend to create a lot for myself, whether it be promotional pieces for my design studio or for my retail typefaces. Currently, I’m focused on a few new fonts and a custom typeface in collaboration with my buddy Bob Ewing.

It’s less about the final product and more about the process…

On top of planning a workshop for next year, I just finished a poster design for an art exhibit as well as a couple of lettering pieces for a client in San Francisco. I just released a new batch of my first ever sock design that sold out on the first run, and I’m now planning another location move.

  1. Uppercase or Lowercase

  2. Back in S(t)ock

  3. Love or Like

  4. 4 Nice Pins

  5. Use Your Outside Voice

  6. Good Luck Pin

What else are you passionate about outside design? How does it influence your work? 

Over the last six years, I definitely think travel and moving have played a huge part in keeping me inspired. My wife and I decided in 2014 that we would move to a new state every couple of years. Visiting and moving to new locations and constantly being in a place you’re not totally familiar with makes you very observant of the world around you. It keeps you on your toes and sparks ideas that come from unexpected places.

What’s your favorite piece of advice you’ve received as a creative? Why does it resonate with you? 

One that sticks out recently I actually heard twice in the same day from two different speakers at LetterWest:

Everything is an experiment.

I think it resonates with me because, with this thought in mind, it’s like you have a license to try something new. It’s less about the final product and more about the process by which you may discover a different solution or find out something doesn’t work and have to figure out why.

I get the sense a lot of people today want dialed-in and specific instructions on how to do something. I want to fumble my way along and be surprised by the outcome.

Shout-out: Who’s another Dribbble designer you admire?

Scott Martin from Burnt Toast Creative. The work is so clean, so fun, and clever. He gets me.

Do you have any events, speaking gigs, merch, workshops, classes, or products you’d like to shout-out?

I don’t currently have any events or speaking gigs set, but I am restocking Footnotes—my custom crew sock design.

Want to keep up with Mark? Find him on Dribbble, Instagram, Twitter, and at pprwrkstudio.com.

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