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Victoria Rushton

Victoria Rushton / News /

Marcia: text with the spirit of lettering

Victoria Rushton’s stylish, exuberant, contradictory typeface “is based on nothing, nothing at all,” she says.

“Marcia is based on nothing, nothing at all,” says designer Victoria Rushton. In form, the roman looks like a 19th-century modern, with its high contrast, vertical stress, and ball terminals. But when you look closely, it doesn’t fit the mold at all. In fact, it seems to contradict itself. And the italic is both sturdier and simpler than most moderns. That’s part of Marcia’s charm.

The legs of the cap K and R seem to be “making a leg” like a courtier taking a bow; in the italic versions, they’re knees-up, ready to kick. Add a swash to the italic K and it looks like it’s dashing off in two directions at once. The swash italic G adds a spit curl above the carefully cultivated mustache of its rounded but protruding spur. Swash A sports its flourish like a feather in its cap. The point of the M dangles in midair. The slightly curved shoulders of the crossbar of the T, with its drooping serifs (much more pronounced in the bold weight), emphasize the roundness that characterizes Marcia’s letter shapes.

Many of the lowercase letters have serifs on the left like calligraphic entry strokes, even on letters where you wouldn’t expect it (d, b, u, w). The italic w has two left-facing curvy serifs, while the roman w has one on the left but a standard flat-topped two-ended serif on the rightmost stroke. Mixing these sinuous semi-serifs with ball terminals (a, c, f, r) gives Marcia some of its quirky hybrid flavor.

The numerals are lively and legible, in both lining (uppercase) and oldstyle (lowercase) forms.

Marcia’s default, lining figures; on line two are oldstyle figures—used to blend into text settings. This sample shows a few of Marcia’s dozens of discretionary ligatures—line one also has alternative long /f characters from ss02.

Marcia’s exuberance really comes out in its ligatures. The double-f ligatures, of which there are many, feature one leg that curls down below the baseline, an unusual effect in a roman. A choice of stylistic set gives you the option of bringing that leg back up even with the other. Another stylistic set will give you visibly tied ligatures, for a bit of calligraphic joie de vivre.

“My approach when I didn’t know how something was supposed to look was not to research,” says Rushton, “but to make it up. That’s where that serif structure came from, particularly all the weird entry strokes on the lowercase. I am told these remnants of naïveté give it unique character.”

She can imagine Marcia being used for book covers and chapter titles, or for food packaging, or even in children’s books. Its ideal size would be in the 18pt–30pt range, where it can display its nature at its best.