Chank collaborates with City Pages on free downloadable poster
|Potluck: Letterforms inspired by Twin Cities landmarks|
City Pages recently collaborated with Chank to create a downloadable poster, Potluck: Letterforms inspired by Twin Cities landmarks. The piece is inspired by an experimental font of the same name that assembles letters from disparate existing typefaces. The goal was to discover something new in the juxtaposition of unrelated letter forms.
(Bonus: Chank also offers his Potluck font for free. You can download it and give it a whirl.)
We talked to the artist this week about his unique craft.
How have things have been going the past few years? Are you riding the new web font wave?
I'm getting there. I've been making fonts for 15 years now. I do a lot of artwork too, but my main business is fonts and that's where the money comes from. I want to try to make great fonts for the new century. It's exciting to think that all the fonts I'm making now are the fonts people will be using in the future. I always have 20 or 30 fonts in progress.
My fonts are sublicensed to a web font distributor who serves them for me, and they sell it as a service to web designers, then keep track of the users and aggregate the money and dish it our accordingly. So I'm working on getting all my fonts ready for the web, but my expertise is the display fonts.
Some of your fonts are known for having been inspired by Minneapolis landmarks. Where does your inspiration come from now?
It comes from all over the place. One of my new fonts Panefresco is based on the open source font called Titillium. I wanted to try a font that could be used by educational publishers, as my way of giving back. The result is Panefresco, which is a clean, sans serif font that comes in weights from extra light to extra bold. It started with the italics--making the italics look more like handwriting--and then I slanted it upright. So you'll see it has a hooked 'g' instead of the double loop; and its got a hand-drawn 'a' instead of a typographic 'a'; and the 'e' is one smooth curve instead of using a horizontal line. I wanted to try to make a perfect typographic sans serif font that was inspired by handwriting.
Do you have any new type projects that are inspired by the Twin Cities area?
Yes, I did one based on the Ceresota sign. And I'm working on the flour sack project. I want to make a whole bunch of fonts that are based the flour sacks made here in the 20th century, from the '20s and '30s when the flour industry was booming. Each company had a hand-lettered sack, so there's lots of source material at the Mill City Museum. That's a long term thing I'm working on.
|Top: Titillium open source font. Bottom: Chank's Panefresco|
You recently did some murals for the Creative Lighting building in St. Paul.
Yeah, I did four murals last year and it was the first time I'd used my fonts as paintings.
|One of the four murals on the Creative Lightning building, in St. Paul. Painted by Chank using the Liquorstore font|
You also worked with Adam Turman on the murals. Where are they?
All four are on one building, the Creative Lighting building near 94 and Snelling. You can see it pretty well from 94 in the winter. To see Adam's contribution, you have to go up to the building.
|Collaborative mural by Chank with Adam Turman. Font: Drunk Cowboy.|
I love doing collaborative work, I've made fonts with Adam Turman as well. I made two, one that was a handwritten style that he paints on his posters. He needed the font to use on his design work instead of painting every word. It's got two alternates for every letter so its got a real natural look to it. He goes back and forth between hand lettering and his own font. Another font was with illustrations with bikes, beers, babes, and burgers.
|A poster by Adam Turman using fonts created by Chank|
For fonts that I made 10 years ago, I'm still working on a bold version today. People will use it but it doesn't advance my creative career. I do it because it rounds out my body of work.
All of my fonts are optimized for print but now I'm seeing them onscreen thinking I would do some things differently. I plan to re-optimize them for smart devices that have good rendering capabilities.
To download a pdf of Potluck: Letterforms inspired by Twin Cities landmarks, a collaborative art poster by City Pages' Art Director Mike Kooiman and Chank, click here.