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OSP-foundry» Blog Archive » Crickx
[my favorite display font, the story = delightful, hard to believe I never bookmarked this before]

"OSP-Crickx is a digital reinterpretation of a set of adhesive letters.

The Publi Fluor shop was situated in the northern part of Brussels, Schaerbeek, and founded by the father of Madame Christelle Crickx who was a trained letter painter. In his day he is—it seems—the first to propose fluorescent colors for shopwindow signs. It proves so difficult to paint letters on site with that kind of unstable coating that he develops a technique based on vinyl that he fluo-colors and cuts by hand in the workplace, then sticks at clients shops. Around 1975, his health degrades quickly and his daughter is forced to step into the business.


Starting to cut letters with the rounded and skilled cardboard templates drawn by her father, Madame Crickx slowly morphs the shapes by analysing how typographic niceties confuse her non-trained clients and leads to bad letters placement. She progressively removes the optical compensation of rounded tops and bottoms, straightens sides, and attaches accents for less floating parts. Those moves add a very specific orientation to this otherwise quite common bold italic sans serif display typeface.

During about fifty years these craft lettres have spread across the windows of shopping streets, more and more, and after the closure of the shop in the early noughties, they seem to still hold their own to the assaults of vector vinyl cutting technology.


In 1996, Pierre Huyghebaert and Vincent Fortemps have just started to work for the cultural center les Halles de Schaerbeek. For a series of events linked to India, an interest to mix local and distant vernacular takes shape. Those letters spotted on Schaerbeek’s shopwindows years before seem to fit the job ideally. After a few wanderings in the streets nearby, the small lettershop at the bottom of the dull Avenue Rogier, shining with its fluo shapes, is finally spotted as the origin of these typographic waves… And the inside of the shop proves to be even more amazing.

First contacts with Madame Crickx follow, the first poster is typeset letter by letter, then Pierre Huyghebaert pays other visits and it becomes obvious that these letters deserve more than a one-time usage, as Madame Crickx’s work deserves more than simply buying some letters more. For the following Halles assignments, after a quick-and-dirty Fontographer vectorisation, the Crickx font is heavily used. This font is called the Crickx Rush in reference of the time constrains that characterize this kind of operation. When Jan Middendorp, then Editor of the Belgian fontshop magazine Druk, orders an article on the letters, it is the occasion for Pierre to try to investigate and understand better the process described herebefore. (Astonishingly, shortly before the magazine stops, a poll seems to have elected the article as one of the most favoured by the readers…).


When Madame Crickx follows the retirement of her postman husband, the studio Speculoos (where Pierre works) buys the whole stock of letters and dingbats and vinyle for a symbolic prize, stores it in their basement of Saint-Gilles but uses it for some of their funkiest windowshop displays. He ask Madame Crickx to cut lower-cases for her letters as with other accented and diacritics to cover more or less the Latin-1 codepage, by trying to give her just enough sample to distinguish the characters but not much to influence the way to draw them. As answers, she cut a completely new and fantasy set of letters (called the blobby in the pack)… After a discussion, she propose new lower-case, more in sync with the upper cases classical ones, but not sharing exactly the same low contrast. After years of sleeping on hard-drive and archives, in 2010, Ludi Loiseau and Antoine Begon uplift the work to redraw the outlines to produce a more complete and less trashy version (Regular), explore the non-italic more rare one (Droite Rush and Droite) and extend it with lower cases (SharkCut). Finally, the Crickx’s cabinet regains a better place at the new Constant Variable place, Rue Gallait 80, less than a kilometer far from the original shop place…

More :
– Pdf of the article in Dutch (translated by Jan Middendorp and French (original).
– Text by Femke Snelting

We are very happy to receive news from what you do or works you spot that use these fonts!
On est très heureux de recevoir des infos à propos de travaux que vous réalisez ou que vous remarquez qui utilisent ces fontes!"
osp-foundry  crickx  flip-flop  digital  fonts  typography  free  opensource  pierrehuyghebaert  vincentfortemps  christellecrickx  brussels  signs  signage  handmade  ludiloiseau  antoinebegon  janmiddendorp 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Tools | LettError
"Once an alert designer has become familiar with the software, it is to be hoped that questions will arise which the software is incapable of solving. This can be frustrating. You think of an image or a solution that requires a specific combination of functions, and then it turns out not to exist. Or you want to repeat an action a large number of times, while the program does not offer any way of doing it automatically. The toolhorizon comes into view. Should you begin to have doubts about yourself as a designer? On the contrary. It simply means that the people who devised the program did not take your idea into account, so it is a relatively new idea. And it is no bad thing for a designer to have new ideas. All the same, good advice is a rare commodity when you run up against the limits of the tool-kit in the middle of the thinking process. Should designers slow down and adjust their ideas to what the computer can handle? As we know, to design is to make images within given limitations. But not all limitations are the same. Limitations and demands imposed by a client are easier to accept than the arbitrary limitations of your digital tools."

"The critical outsider will note that this method also has its disadvantages. After all, sometimes designing proceeds faster and more securely if nothing is left to chance, if work starts straight away as on the computer with a precision of a hundredth of a millimeter (‘exactly one cm’ is also possible). Is it really handy to generate the layout of a calendar with a program that can shift parameters endlessly? You have to write a program like that first, and that takes a lot of time. Of course not, will be the answer, the first time naturally takes more time and trouble, but that is what makes it so much fun. Design is hardly a challenge any more, but programming is. The paradox of designing like Just and Erik is that a lot of individually written tools are only efficient (in the sense of saving time) if the same sort of design is repeated a large number of times; but that is a very rare occurrence. Explorers, and that is what they are, do not want to do the same thing twice. They prefer to leave that up to ordinary designers, and studios. Which brings us to the second paradox: such designers may never get around to programming. They hope that the scripts and programs of LettError will simply be available on the internet one day. Ready to use."
design  type  computers  toolmaking  making  digitaltoolkit  onlinetoolkit  janmiddendorp  2000  via:tealtan  tools 
december 2013 by robertogreco

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