top of page

Mick Riva


Feb-Apr. 2023, 10 weeks

Robofont, InDesign, Photoshop

Advisor: Ben Kiel


Mick Riva is a serif display typeface derived from Windsor, a 19th century old-style serif typeface that became popular in the mid-1900's as advertisement and branding typography. The new revival is notable through its iconic stabbing serifs and left-leaning lowercase letters. 


Mick Riva is intended to be used at large point sizes on vinyl album covers for fictional literary music artist, Mick Riva, who was famous during the 1960’s-70’s Rock Era (via The Seven Husbands of Eleanor Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid). The typeface pays a nostalgic tribute to the carefree, artistic, and revolutionary attitude of the time period.

Process Work


 First, I hand-sketched Windsor's letters to grasp the overall design concept of the typeface: weight, counters, serifs, etc. Windsor’s uppercase letters are very structured, with straight and stabbing serifs. The lowercase is more fluid and artistic.

In both upper and lowercase, I wished to experiment with ball terminals to give the typeface a less sharp and rigid appeal, and instead a carefree and flowy attitude. In general, I was content on maintaining most of the same components of the existing typeface in my revival for uppercase. Some select lowercase letters have tilted counters, although not necessarily consistent. This could be standardized to mimic the iconic lean of the lowercase "a".


After sketching in Robofont, I focused strongly on integrating my changes to the initial typeface, notably tinkering with the lowercase “a” and getting it to be the right angle, but also trying to add a ball terminal. It was very hard to figure out how to implement the right-sized terminal while leaving enough space below the ball for the lower half of the letter. I struggled to not make lowercase too tall, as adding the ball terminal naturally pushed the letter to add room on top. Spacing became increasingly tricky too, as there seemed to always be more space on the right side due to the left tilt of the letter. I also tested titled counters on the “p” and “g”. 


Like predicted, I had a ton of difficulty experimenting with the top half of the lowercase “f”. Windsor’s “f” has a longer stem grounding the letter, with a more flattered top half. The arms are also very thin. It felt squished on top, and I wanted to incorporate the ball terminal element as well. This meant lowering the arms, possibly thickening them as well.

Below are a few iterations I was testing out. I was not sure how angled I wanted the top half to be, because I wanted the letter to still feel as though it stands upright rather than off-balance. Additionally, I added the titled counters to the “b”. However, this raised the question of where I wanted to distribute the weight of the letter. In the next proofs, I played around with where to place the counter in the letters. 


After experimenting and finalizing the optimal width of uppercase letters, which was particularly difficult for "M", "S", and "U", I was able to settle with a satisfactory result. Attention was turned back to lowercase, which was trickier. 

1 ) Counters of “b” and “p” - how can the placement be arranged to have a consistent weight in the letter? Perhaps have the left side of the counter touch the stem of the letter.
2 ) Lowercase “j” and “y” descender ball terminal - how can it be consistent in length, shape, and weight?
3 ) Uppercase “Q” and J” - the size of the ball terminal should be visually consistent
4 )What if more of the lowercase letters were titled to the left, like the “a” or “o”?