Charming Handmade Lettering and Type by Mark van Leeuwen


I’ll admit I write about hand-lettered type often, it is a love of mine, but it’s also been continually trendy over the last few years. It’s a beautiful, difficult craft that I continue to be delighted by as I scroll through my various feeds. In particular Marco van Luijin, better known as Mark van Leeuwen, has one of the most consistent styles I’ve come across, possessing some great ability to produce familiarity over and over again. He also has a great eye for spacing and flow that can be difficult to achieve by hand.

Van Leeuwen, a Dutch freelance designer out of Northern Italy, specializes in typography, lettering and branding design, and he’s only sixteen-years-old! While he does some client work with logos, most of van Leeuwen’s work is made for fun and personal practice when he isn’t in school. He’s been teaching himself the craft by examining Instagram accounts of other letterers’ and incorporating techniques the techniques he notices. Before long, his style emerged. I especially notice his consistency when he uses sans serifs for supporting words.



“I naturally began to develop a style that is slightly different than others’, but it is not a very intentional process,” van Leeuwen said. “Each time I work on something I want to experiment with new styles and techniques, but at the same time I do not want to make my work too much different from my previous creations. Like this I try to keep my style as consistent as possible, but interesting at the same time.”


A lot of van Leeuwen’s early work involved layering type over photographs, as tends to be a common practice on Instagram, but he has since ceased to do that, instead trying to make type-work that could stand on it’s own. And he’s been quite successful. Van Leeuwen’s very good at getting his type to contain itself in very pleasing, inferred shapes, occasionally using some small illustrations to bring the whole piece together.


Van Leeuwen recently released the typeface Timber, a thick, hand-lettered slab serif with a very outdoorsy feel that will be perfect for autumn. As van Leeuwen’s first typeface, he really want to create something versatile but that paid homage to his own vintage, handmade style. He intends to make more in the future.