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The Electric Circus posters, flyers, ads

Contributed by Stephen Coles on Apr 24th, 2014. Artwork published in .
    tumblr_mj5d89dMdU1rionq1o1_1280.jpg
    Source: http://butdoesitfloat.com Images posted by Folkert Gorter on But Does It Float. License: All Rights Reserved.

    The Electric Circus was a nightclub and discotheque located at 19–25 St. Marks Place between Second and Third Avenues in the East Village neighborhood of New York City, from June 1967 to September 1971.

    As far as I can tell, this experimental typeface was developed by Chermayeff & Geismar [update: later confirmed by the firm on Twitter]. In a way, it presages the photocopier distortion that became common in the 1970s–90s. I don’t yet know the typeface’s name, and perhaps it was exclusive to C&G. The cover for Lou Reed’s Transformer album used a very similar face, which is fitting since The Velvet Underground was a fixture at The Electric Circus. Digital fonts in this genre include Double Vision (clearly inspired by this film font) and Alphabat.

    Read more about this type style in a post by Art Chantry about a 1962 album cover, which I assumed to be its first use, until finding C&G’s 1960 ad for Transitron. The concept may have begun in 1959 with That New York, an experimental typography booklet produced at The Composing Room.

    70667ec.jpg
    Source: http://butdoesitfloat.com Images posted by Folkert Gorter on But Does It Float. License: All Rights Reserved.
    90767ec4_905.jpg
    Source: http://butdoesitfloat.com Images posted by Folkert Gorter on But Does It Float. License: All Rights Reserved.
    572.jpg
    Source: http://butdoesitfloat.com Images posted by Folkert Gorter on But Does It Float. License: All Rights Reserved.
    61567ec22_905.jpg
    Source: http://butdoesitfloat.com Images posted by Folkert Gorter on But Does It Float. License: All Rights Reserved.
    609_or.jpg
    Source: http://designarchives.aiga.org Spread from the book TM: Trademarks Designed by Chermayeff & Geismar. License: All Rights Reserved.

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    13 Comments on “The Electric Circus posters, flyers, ads”

    1. Sean Habig says:
      Apr 29th, 2014  3:05 pm

      Maybe not the exact same font, but a good start: http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/typeart/double-vision/regular/

    2. Apr 29th, 2014  7:51 pm

      Check your vision ;-) Double Vision was mentioned in the post.

    3. Jun 10th, 2014  11:57 am

      Spacer from Club-21 : http://www.identifont.com/similar?4ZR

    4. Jun 10th, 2014  3:32 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Emmanuel. Spacer is only similar, but not a hit — see e.g. ‘S’ or ‘M’ — just like the mentioned Double Vision, Alphabat, Eye Doctor, and Electus. Did you see the update? The designers of this Use, Chermayeff & Geismar, have confirmed that it is an experimental and apparently exclusive typeface developed by them.

    5. Jun 11th, 2014  11:12 am

      Thanks for the reminder of Spacer, though. I’d missed that one on the list of similar faces because it no longer appears on FontShop. Looks like Club-21 took it off the market. Double Vision comes closest.

      The origins of many of these type designs are still unclear. The earliest publicly available example I’ve found so far is Electus (from PLINC’s 1969 catalog).

    6. Robert Lange says:
      Mar 26th, 2015  11:08 am

      … interesting – but from whom is this similar font here? [link removed]

    7. Mar 26th, 2015  12:29 pm

      Robert, I removed the link you’ve posted because that site hosts pirated fonts. The font you mention is by Jason Fagone, released in 1997 on his now defunct label Soup Type AKA Alphabet Soup (not to be confused with Michael Doret’s foundry of the same name). It is not clear to me whether this limited and poorly drawn “Electric Circus” is a freebie or abandonware, but with that name it is obviously based on the work by Chermayeff & Geismar.

    8. Jun 15th, 2015  10:15 pm

      A showing of this custom face appears in New Alphabets A to Z, by Herbert Spencer and Colin Forbes, 1974. It is credited to Ivan Chermayeff and Thomas Geismar.

    9. pete leonard says:
      Feb 22nd, 2017  9:15 pm

      Can anyone determine the original font used to create Electus?

    10. Feb 22nd, 2017  10:56 pm

      As we write on the Electus page, the origins are unclear, and it could be derived from Chermayeff & Geismar’s Electric Circus face, shown here. It’s not certain that C&G began with an existing font to create Electric Circus.

    11. Ian Perkins says:
      Oct 7th, 2017  1:09 pm

      Pretty sure this font was based on how type distorts on shipping container sides and vertical glass shutters, explored by Robert Brownjohn from Brownjohn Chermayeff & Geismar in Typographica magazine.

    12. Oct 7th, 2017  7:47 pm

      Thank you, that’s an interesting link! Brownjohn’s Street Level feature in Typographica 4 is reproduced on robertbrownjohn.com.

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