Type in Action is a series where Ligatures YYZ picks the creative brains of talented typographers and designers in Toronto about the things that inspire their work, and tips to chew on for other designers.
Meet Mark Serrano, an emerging graphic designer, illustrator, letterer, and pyrographer (that is, woodburner!)
Who are the biggest mentors in your creative work -- and why are they important to you?
Shelly Warsh (RIP). She was my typography professor at George Brown College. She was this drill sergeant-type of professor and watched over your shoulder as you work. It was pretty intense, but she was an amazing teacher. She made students fall in love with Typography. I’ve been into lettering since I was little but I lost a bit of interest in it until I got to college. This is the reason why I chose her as my thesis mentor - I needed someone to push me.
Social media provides such powerful avenues for sharing one’s work -- what role has social media taken in your creative work?
Social media has played a big role in my growth as an artist. I remember posting some of my first few works and getting a good reception from friends. At that time I was still skeptical about the whole online store thing. But I enjoyed doing it, people enjoyed my work… so I thought “Hmmm, maybe I can actually even do this for a living.” From there I just started posting more of my work, opened up my Etsy store. I also did the 365 challenge which was a great excuse to use different mediums.
What technology or tool are you excited to geek out on lately and what have you created with it?
My pyrography set! It’s just so different than what I usually do. With chalk, pencil, digital illustration there’s a bit more room for mistake. You can go back the next day and fix or erase things. But pyrography has tested my patience and so far I’m up for the challenge. The last pyrography piece I did was “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” by Albert Camus. I have a few pyrography ideas but they’re mostly illustrations!
Within Toronto, where do you find your inspiration? Why does this/these inspire you?
I get inspired by working around other artists. I love going to events and meeting like-minded people. Ligatures has done a great job in connecting us -- they’ve made the lettering/typography world a lot smaller in Toronto.
Does Toronto specifically offer any advantages to your career, and if so, what does Toronto offer?
Toronto being such a huge city gives artists an advantage. There’s always something new and exciting happening here. There’s always opportunities as far as creative stuff goes. I’ve enjoyed all the murals popping up -- there’s definitely a huge support coming from the city!
Where do you see yourself in the next phase of your creative practice?
I’d like to open my own studio. I feel like working for myself is the next phase in my practice. Stay tuned!