Mika Melvas’ Signalist is type convincingly disguised as brush lettering.
The style captured is a compact speed letter, with all its idiosynchratic hooks and swells left in. Its fit is impeccable. The texture is just uneven enough to be believable, and yet sufficiently normalized to not draw undue attention to any individual part. And it accomplishes all this with a minimal cast; the face abstains from the present arms race for fully-loaded script fonts, itself containing no alternates or non-standard ligatures.
What’s more, it’s fresh. Unlike so many recent releases in the subgenre of casual brush script, this one is not old, nor does it try to be. I see the face as fully contemporary. Its strokes are laid down matter-of-factly. Each carries its weight assertively and effortlessly, with a tangible crispness in the fine details. The rhythm of the lowercase along with the caps, alternating between cursive and roman constructions, impart a sense of vitality, if not urgency to the message. In sum, Signalist posesses a real, cohesive energy about its entire composition, and I’m pleased to hold it up with the great faces of the year. It’s a simple concept, executed simply and beautifully.
David Sudweeks is a letterer and type designer. He writes about design and works as Type Director at FontShop San Francisco.