Pika Ultra Script font specimen

Typeface Review

Pika Ultra

Reviewed by Kate Long on January 19, 2021

Several remarkable typefaces were released in 2019, but none of them made me want to roller-skate as much as PSTL’s Pika Ultra.

Designed by Mark Caneso — lettering artist, type designer, and founder of PSTL — Pika Ultra evokes the rhythm of ’70s bold lettering but avoids the popular trend of bottom-heavy psychedelic fonts. For me, the parallel here lies more in the wavelike cadence of the letterforms and bold silhouettes of words and letter combinations. Caneso has found an incredibly delightful balance between funky and uniform.

Despite having a tall x-height paired with short ascenders and descenders, Pika Ultra is shockingly legible. Usually, this combination makes deciphering scripty letterforms a bit difficult for me (and my weird glasses prescription). The notch connectors, which Caneso calls the “backbone” of this font, don’t just bring a playful personality to it. They also elevate it, making Pika Ultra a go-to for typographers in need of a bold script that anyone can read effortlessly.

A thoroughly developed typeface, Pika Ultra has alternates, discretionary ligatures, and a full set of accented characters. The lowercase s glyph is a standout. On its own, it almost looks like a logo. It is motion in a letterform. I half expect it to roll off the page, and I’m enamored of its closed counter. I’m also especially into the super-satisfying chunky numerals. But my favorite part of Pika Ultra is the eye-catching outlines that beg to be featured in someone’s next sticker-slapping project.

Kate Long is the Librarian at Letterform Archive. She earned her MLIS from Drexel University, sometimes writes for the Archive blog, and occasionally gives public lectures on the impact of type and graphic design. Mostly she likes helping people find stuff.

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