Inspired by the brush stroke lettering of butcher shop windows, Jim Ford’s Beefcakes pays homage to the lively shapes and flicks that are the sign writer’s trade.
“My mum used to take me on errands at the weekends, and we’d go to local grocery stores and the butcher shop, and they’d have these big hand-painted signs for sales,” says Ford. “That was the inspiration for this typeface.”
Although created with digital tools, rather than the brush and mahl stick that the sign painter relies on, Beefcakes echoes the pleasing irregularities of letters that have been made by hand. Using his “modern typographic brush”, Ford designed small details that mimic hand-painted forms.
“I tried to draw this in pieces, to replicate each stroke of the brush,” he says. “So the top of the A and the E have these subtle little protrusions, that are similar to what you’d see if you were overlapping strokes.”
References to sign writing are included elsewhere in the typeface – in the jaunty flick that forms the tail of the S, and the angled tops of the letters. Continuing the theme, Ford has designed a set of accompanying abbreviations – lb, oz, kg – that hark back to his original source of inspiration. A separate shadow weight is also available, created to be layered with the regular font.
Beefcakes’ “voluptuous” letters have been designed to fit tightly together, with the whole typeface – perfect for packaging or food brands – intended to be used at large sizes. A text font this is not. Punctuation has been streamlined to make sure as much of the white space as possible is filled, and to avoid leaving holes in the letters. The end result is a collection of pleasingly chunky letters – an antidote to the current surge in geometric sans serifs.
”I would describe it as a contemporary big brush face, but there's definitely some things about it that are typographic,” adds Ford. “It's got a clean, modern finish, but ultimately with a lot of nods to lettering too.