The other day I wrote about how I’ve been lacking inspiration, and about one friend’s advice: Take a walk. I’m so glad I took his suggestion to heart! In one of life’s strange coincidences, Mo’s advice led me to meet a font designer whose work I’ve admired for ages.
Among American graphic designers, Chank Diesel is somewhat of a legend. He’s done several murals around the Twin Cities —
— and he’s also created fonts for some pretty huge “corporate clients and crazed loner entrepreneurs.” (Chank’s words, not mine.)
So I was a little surprised to find myself driving past his latest project yesterday morning. I’ll admit that I didn’t recognize Chank at all. But his letterforms — and his trademark goggle-eyed guy — were unmistakable.
I did a U-turn in the middle of the road and I pulled around the block.
“Excuse me! Are you by chance Chank Diesel?” I yelled over the rush-hour traffic. He seemed a little perplexed. “Yeah, that’s me,” he said, climbing off his ladder.
My fontographer idol was disarmingly down-to-earth. He asked me if I was a designer (“Naw … just a writer,” I replied). We joked about Comic Sans, and we mused about how most people never consider that someone actually has to make such fonts.
Instead we talked about Chank’s mural. “It’s so much better than having a blank white wall,” he said. His work would likely be painted over as soon as the building got a new tenant, but he didn’t seem to mind. “It’s kind of interesting to make something that you know is transitory,” he said.
I gave him my business card and promised to be in touch about my creative characters series. Then I let him get back to work.
I came back this morning to see the finished product.
I was sorry to see that some taggers had already attacked the front of the building …
… but somehow, I don’t think Chank would mind. Who knows? Maybe the graffiti will inspire his next font, “Tagger Sans.”