The Snug Typeface Finds Opportunities for Play in Its Negative Space

Posted inType Tuesday

pprwrk studio Owner Mark Caneso is the designer behind Snug, an exuberantly weird font with fascinating terminal shapes. Its smart use of negative space adds a unique contrast to an otherwise bubblegum font, and each letter bursts with quirky personality while maintaining a strong legibility. While bespoke curves and natural soft edges make the typeface buoyant and approachable, it is bold and decisive at its thickest.

The initial design of Snug was this ‘Good Luck’ lettering exploration.
Created and posted to Instagram in 2017.

The design struck a chord with my audience and was shared/reshared quite a bit. But for me, it was those very narrow counter-letterforms that got me thinking about what this could look like as a typeface.

I continued exploring the series, creating several other pieces between 2017 – 2020
Each time I would draw more letterforms as I needed them.

In 2018 I refined the original Good/Luck design and created a few physical products:
Stickers and an Enamel Pin. (sold out) I also collaborated with Scout Book to create a notebook for AdobeMax. The artwork was used to show-off their new black chipboard cover stock + silver ink options.

My original pins had sold out but I was still get requests for them. Rather than remake the same pin, I decided to create an alternate version in 2020 that was more closely related to my initial horizontal sketch. This time I produced 3 variations in 3 materials: Black/White, Copper/White, Gold/Black

During this time, I had also been creating the first iteration of the typeface but it was called Condenser. (2018-2019) During the early stages I used it internally in my own design projects. The design was once again put on the back burner until I could decide if it was worth the effort to make a retail release.

Type design projects are often long-term. Snug was no different. I sat on the design for most of 2021 and didn’t revisited it until the fall of 2022. Looking back at the original pin I realized I really enjoyed the way the enamel rounded the terminals. That natural softening that happens when creating enamel pins added a warmth to the very structured forms. I decided this is what was missing that was the thing that I would infuse back into the design.

With a clear direction on how to complete the design I brought old files into the latest Glyphs program and redrew everything. I refined forms and proportions, added new weights and widths and developed the typeface into a 3-axis variable font.

The structure of the forms made Snug a prime candidate for a variable font. While weight and width axis are traditional, the straight sides drove the possibility of including a third axis for the x-height. Because the x-height was already quite tall, the forms were adjusted down to include a lower style.

Even at it’s widest setting, Snug is still a condensed design overall. The font includes several alternates, a selection of discretionary ligatures and some nested caps.