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.


October 10, 2014 / By

Five Fonts for Summer

Five Fonts for Summer

The arrival of any season brings a number of design trends from colors and shapes and type. Summer is hear so it’s time for warmer colors and to drop your serifs. I’ve selected five examples of display type and trends I’d like to see gracing designs this time of year.



1. Thirsty Soft – This is my top pick for summer and one of the best scripts I’ve seen in a long time. Thirsty Soft by Yellow Design Studios (add these guys to your watch list) is a vintage-inspired font family with  kick-ass ligatures and works as both retro and contemporary display type.  It comes with six different weights, shadow layers and a handful of other features in addition to a particularly beautiful ampersand. It’d make for great summer advertising and signage and I could picture it advertising some frozen treat or lemonade out on a boardwalk.



2. Roccia – An experimental sans by Mark Oggian available on Ten Dollar Fonts. I’m not a huge fan of the alternative geometric sans trend because I think it can get to be too much, too quickly and fear people will abuse it but I don’t mind it sparingly. I think Roccia hits the right notes with it’s decorative glyphs. I find it gives off a bit of a summer music festival vibe and could easily see it on gig posters as well as striking display type in magazines.


3. Supernett – A fun, handwritten sans by Georg Herold Wildfellner. It’s playful without being obnoxious. It looks great in all weights, especially light. It works for anything outdoorsy or green. It can have an organic feel if it’s played the right way. ATCTimberline_SummerFont

4. ATC Timberline – A fresh release from Avondale Type Company, which I featured on my foundries to watch post a little while back. These guys are churning out typefaces with ease and their new, ultra-wide sans makes for nice type for more serious, summer designs. It’d also work as a nice secondary typeface.



5. Knewave – This brush type from Tyler Fincke has been around for a few years on League of Moveable Type but this is exactly what I picture when I think of type and summer. I simply could not leave it off this list. It screams beach and surf magazine spread. It’s bold and a bit haphazard while still maintaining a lot of uniformity.

June 30, 2014 / By

Dave Foster’s Intricate Hand-lettered Tweets


Handlettering tends to be the skill I see designers practicing most outside of client work — taking on personal projects to better hone their abilities and style. Sydney-based letter and typographer Dave Foster  came up with a clever, engaging way to do so while also promoting his name. Using the clever #MayDave, Foster’s been handlettering his tweets for the entire month of May.

“Tweets are engaging, I thought it was a good way to advertise and grow my following while showing what I do,” Foster said on why he chose Twitter. “The length was capped too, which I felt would limit the difficulty somewhat.”

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May 20, 2014 / By

Comic Neue – A Designer’s Attempt At “Bettering” Comic Sans

Comic Neue - A Designer’s Attempt At "Bettering" Comic Sans

I never expected to seriously be writing about Comic Sans. The occasional reference for humor is a low hanging fruit to any typography writer but here we go. In all seriousness, let’s talk about the world’s most hated typeface because designer Craig Rozynski challenged himself to redesign it.

First, let’s look at the history of Comic Sans via Just My Type by Simon Garfield, because I believe that the world is too harsh on Vincent Connare. You might say he’s the person you curse under your breath when you see that passive aggressive note about cleaning the microwave at the office — but really he’s only partially to blame.

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April 14, 2014 / By

Winston Scully Gives Pencil Packaging A Facelift


Everyone can picture a classic No. 2. Usually yellow, metal end capped with soft, pink rubber. It is a versatile symbol of creativity, art, potential, academics, anxiety and seemingly endless rounds of bubbling in tiny circles for answers A, B, C or D. The pencil is incredibly recognizable but I can barely drum up the name of a brand, let alone imagine the packaging from which the pencil came in fresh and waiting to be sharpened.

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March 31, 2014 / By

5 Type Foundries To Watch Out For


Despite there being an infinite abundance of type out there, I always feel like fall back on a certain few typefaces. I go through phases, it’s not always the same handful, but even when I go to look around for something new, I find myself going back to the same fairly popular foundries for that something new. It’s a comfort thing, I’m sure, and I am definitely a creature of habit, but it’s time to break myself (and you) of my go-to foundries. Not completely, of course, but I hardly think they’d be jealous if we shopped around a little. I did some searching and, with the help of some of you on Twitter, compiled a list of five foundries I think are worth giving a try and keeping an eye on in the future.

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March 10, 2014 / By