Typeface Review


Reviewed by Patric King on January 25, 2012

The thing I love most about type design is that, no matter how bent out of shape its practitioners get about rules, there’s always one of them ready to completely sidestep convention and create a face that’s totally unexpected. Miguel Hernández did that beautifully just a few weeks ago with the release of his unconventional beauty, Mija.

Mija’s a weird little family of grotesques – kinda – which has no business doing as well as it does. It has a candid sweetness in its blobby forms inspired by handmade signage from Hernández’s home in Santiago, Chile. I immediately warmed up to the family because it’s so reminiscent of the lovely, imperfect signs in Spanish, Korean and Polish covering Chicago’s walls.

The past few years have seen an outpouring of “friendly” faces trying to fit into a vocabulary of the round, pillowy shapes inspired by web 2.0 visual devices. It leaves me a little cold because, frankly, such a widely codified vernacular opens the door for enormous corporations to disguise themselves as harmless little things. I don’t care how warm and fuzzy General Electric or Unilever make themselves appear, they’re still gargantuan monsters, and I don’t want to be their BFF on Twitter. Mija’s sweetness arises from its weirdness, and it’s a flavor of weird I’d be surprised to see used like anything else in this blobby web-2.0ish vernacular, even though it’s superficially related. There’s no disguising that these faces are totally imperfect – there’s a little bit of chaos to them I can’t see fitting well into any sort of corporate identity. Its imperfections combined with proportions perfect for reading make for a versatile experience in display and text applications.

The family pulls the best parts from handmade signage and combines them with elements of handwriting, but without resorting to a templated visual vocabulary to pull the forms together. There are a few commonalities between forms, like the tail of the ‘K’ and ‘R’, and the connections between bowls and stems of the ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘p’ and ‘q}, but for every commonality there’s a form that could have been repeated but just wasn’t. The curve of the ‘f’ could have easily been related to the bottom of the ‘g’, but it isn’t … and yet it fits. And that’s just delightful to look at.

Patric King makes type and designs for brands from Chicago. He complains a lot on Twitter, and posts regular studio cat updates on Instagram.


  1. george says:

    Mija is special.

  2. Graeme Jenkins says:

    I would really like to use Mija but can’t seem to find it to download. Can you help please?

  3. Graeme, see the “Get the Fonts” list above.

  4. Oops, I see now that Latinotype fonts are no longer available at retailers. Contact them directly.

Post a Comment

Comments at Typographica are moderated and copyedited, just like newspaper “Letters to the Editor”. Abusive or off-topic comments are not published. We appreciate compliments, but don’t publish them unless they add to the dialog. Thank you!