Mark Pernice.

“Brooklyn is the new Manhattan haven’t you heard? This humble studio is on the border of Greenpoint and Williamsburg area overlooking the glorious BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway). It’s a pretty new build so it doesn’t have the charm of the old brewery factory space like I had in Philadelphia, which knocks the cool cred down a lot but hey it’s back in my home town and the view (when you look past the highway) is amazing. We pay a small fortune for 700 something sq ft for the entire two years and have not seen one mouse poo!

MARK PERNICE is a New York native and School of Visual Arts alum. He advanced from work in movie poster design to designing for a variety of clients and industries as a now-longtime graphic designer and illustrator. Pernice spent part of 2008 working with Stefan Sagmeister and in 2010 working with Paula Scher.

His recognitions include two 2011 FPO Awards, Make Magazine 10 Best of 2010, HOW Magazine Outstanding Achievement award, 2009 AIGA PDA award and Print Magazine’s Regional Design Annual award. Pernice’s “Photo Booth Mask ” project has gained viral attention with over 1.5 million image hits in the projects first 3 months garnering press in Wired, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Gizmodo, Buzzfeed and It’s Nice That to name a few.

FROM YOUR DESKS:  How do you work?

MARK PERNICE: I wake up early, check the surf report, head out at dawn if it’s good, if not, sleep another two hours. Wake back up, check email, COFFEE, take a shower generally if a concept is due I’ll take a looooong shower. This is where I do a lot of my mental organization and brainstorming. Sometimes I’ll even stretch in the shower, all while getting clean, and getting some peace. Multitasking right?! I’m thinking about setting up an office in the shower. Get dressed, COFFEE, work, try to take a break and get outside for a bit, maybe have lunch with another designer, back to work. I try to move around. Sometimes I’ll sit on the couch, balcony or counter top with my laptop. I need that to stay fresh.
FYD: What kind of coffee do you drink?
MP: I’m not too picky. That said I have been drinking some coffee snob stuff lately. Stumptown sometimes. One of my interns bought me some amazing Porto Rico Importing Co. Indian Monsooned Malabar.  Apparently the picked beans are exposed to monsoon winds for four months. Pretty nerdy. It amazes me how things get better by accident sometimes. You know they thought that first monsooned batch was ruined by someone who left the harvest outside.
FYD: What is your favorite sentimental object at your workspace and why?
MP: Probably this little ceramic figurine (see above) that my grandmother owned. I think he’s an Italian monk. You flip the newspaper to reveal an erection. Very weird, grandma, very weird. That and the couch that Stefan Sagmeister gave me. Memphis the studio cat doesn’t seem to care whose it was when she’s scratching it though.
FYD: What is your favorite or most required work tool?
MP: My head! How often do you get that answer? There’s some obvious and boring answers that would probably be misleading to not mention (computer, tablet, sketch/notebook, camera etc). Right now, my network drive allows me access to files wherever I get on the internet, so I can change that scenery.
FYD: Your Apple Photo Booth mask generated massive viral hits.  How did you concept the idea? 
MP: I had the idea while playing around in Photo Booth at my in-laws house. I thought it might be cool if these faces had some tangible real world feel. I immediately thought of a mask. At the time, I was trying to think of a promo piece as well. It just sort of came together. Sometimes I try to incorporate these “what if I could turn these ideas into real design projects.”
FYD: What’s interesting about distortion?
MP: I think making the familiar seem foreign scares and excites most people. We try really hard to correct distortions in life and in some cases the distortion much like audible distortion in music, which starts out as a mistake or something to avoid becomes the thing of beauty and encases the norm.
Sometimes I try to incorporate these “what if I could turn these ideas into real design projects.
FYD: You must have been blown out-of-town by the response. How did you reinvent yourself after that?
MP: I was pretty amazed. I might have to get real facial reconstruction to top the mask. I don’t think I’ve peaked, and if I have, I’ll just move to out of the city and chop wood all day with a designer axe.  I’m not too worried about it.
You can’t help but put a little of your own take on things.
FYD: My pop culturally trained mind revisits the scene in Point Break with the various Presidents masks.  What masks you pop on and where would you take yourself?
MP: Point Break! I loved that movie when I was a kid. Maybe Justin Beiber. That kids head is unreal as it is. I might go to the mall. I’ve always thought Freddie Mercury was a bit of a genius and his face would be so suiting. I might go to Live Aid 1985.
FYD: The New York Times recently showcased your work as one of their 2011 Noteable Op-Eds. How do you approach Op-Ed and specifically in the Wal-Mart culture?  
MP: I’m honored to be among that great crew. I go for concept and then style is usually dictated by that. I’m lucky to be able to move around stylistically and it keeps things interesting for everyone. My approach, borders Carrot Tops sometimes. Social commentary with visuals, occasionally trying to be clever and occasionally funny. Sometimes it’s successfully clever and sometimes not so funny. I’d like to think it’s more sophisticated and artful, but yeah I see similarities.
FYD: You must take some stance when creating your piece.
MP: I try to keep to the feel of the story but as a human you can’t help but put a little of your own take on things. I think the art directors do a great job of matching proper illustrators to stories; so it’s usually not an issue.
FYD: New Year’s resolutions?
MP: Keep making progress. Cook home more-often. Shave this beard.
Mark is on Twitter here.

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