Get To Know Cambridge Design Studio Canefantasma
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Canefantasma (@canefantasma) is the design studio and brainchild of Designer and Art Director, Mimmo Manes. With a background in economics, Manes sought out to create a new path in life by immersing himself into web design, the internet, and political art. Since 2001, Manes' design studio Canefantasma practices contemporary visual communication through a bold and conceptual approach, a continuous research method and the ambition to promote the social role of graphic design. Read the interview and learn more about the designer and studio.
First off, tell us a little about how you became a graphic designer.
In 2000 I was about to complete an MA in Economics and it felt pretty much like the furthest thing from me I could imagine. So I started to consider possible alternatives. Surprisingly, soon after my degree, I found a job as a web designer. At the time the internet bubble had generated a huge demand for personnel and was an area with incredible potential and opportunity so it was enough to have built a couple of websites to find a good job! I started to study and learn and immersed myself in the profession that is still today, more than ever, my true passion in life.
What was your inspiration to start the Canefantasma studio?
The studio began in 2001 in Milan as an art/political collective. We did a few exhibitions and public speeches adopting a language borrowed from the Italian futurism. We liked the idea of a poetic and lilting discourse, harsh at times and tainted with a regimental style used to provoke. After that, when we began approaching differently the political concepts that shaped the idea of the collective, that is collaborating with wider organizations, I kept the name and started my own studio.
Tell us a little about your design influences - we love knowing who or what inspires our favorite artists.
That’s a tricky one. I can think of so many throughout my career and only part of those are related to the world of graphic design. I draw my inspiration and ideas from music, art, literature, and poetry. To be more specific, I find a deep connection with informal and poor art, 70’s Italian radical design (when the idea of a possible utopia was tangible), modernism and all that was influenced by it, social graphic design (a consciousness of the responsibility it has in influencing and shaping its surroundings), Italian graphic design and designers with a modernist background but with a flair that seems entirely Italian. I feel they all influence my mind more than my style.
Your typography work is so bold and creative - what do you like about working with type and lettering?
I love words. I love both individual words and combinations that form meanings, I love the shape and the sound of words. What fascinates me is how letters and words can change shape when pronounced by different mouths, how a clipped consonant shapes the air coming out of the mouth, how certain words roll out with a clunk and others slide away smoothly.
That’s why I’m trying, often unsuccessfully, to translate that feeling and those shapes on screen or printed paper.
Tell us a little about how you see social media changing the creative/artistic community.
The chance to be seen and appreciated has potentially increased but, at the same time, the attitude is more and more individualistic (so less community oriented). Also, the enormous quantity of images and information combined with the scarce attention each one of those can attract risks creating a collection of meaningless fragments in our brain. To borrow from Italo Calvino’s “Six Memos for the next millennium” (a must-read book) “The memory is littered with bits and pieces of images, like a rubbish dump, and it is more and more unlikely that any one form among so many will succeed in standing out.” Also, in my experience, this stratification stops ideas and new concepts from clearly arising. I often need to depurate my brain.
Can you speak a little about why you’re on Ello?
Sure, carrying on from the previous question, I find Ello an attempt to work towards creating a community that helps artists and creators to promote themselves, tidying up the house.
As technology evolves and everyone has tools to create at their fingertips, where do you see the future of graphic design heading?
I still believe that a combination of ideas, originality, culture, and sacrifice always pay. Technology helps, I can’t imagine doing my work like I did 15 years ago. But the core of the graphic design profession has never changed: to create visual artifacts for human beings. This applies to graphic design for print, interactive media and web and digital media, but, fundamentally, there’s no difference.
Do you have any exciting projects on the horizon?
I have a box full of projects conceived and not realized yet. They probably will never see the light. I could add luckily because having that stock of unfinished ideas is the spark that still sets fire to my imagination. Everythingisfalse is a challenging project to which I dedicate most of my free time.
What are you doing when you’re not being a creator?
I don’t think you really want to know.
Want to see more? Check out the work by Mimmo Manes/Canefantasma here.