The Egotist Briefs: Chank Diesel

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photo: John Wallace

Back when we launched The Minneapolis Egotist, we felt very strongly that our website’s masthead should be set in a font created by a fellow Minneapolitan. Chank’s “Liquorstore” was a frontrunner from the beginning. It’s simple, strong and we heard rumors that it was inspired by an old liquor store sign in Nordeast. Turns out, the design had nothing to do with a liquor store, but the name did. It’s a long story, really. Chank tells it best. Here’s what he had to say.

What was the original inspiration for Liquorstore?
LIFE magazine, actually. Love that logo, which was originally done when the mag launched in 1939. Looks like they’re still using the same logo today. I like that there's no curves or diagonals in it. "LIFE" is such a neat word.

So, when did you start working on the font?
Back in 1991. I wanted a font like "LIFE" for the logo of CAKE magazine when I was Creative Director there. Nothing seemed quite right, so I made a font of my own. The first version was called Kraftwerk, which was all caps. Later on, I added a lowercase set and renamed it Liquorstore.

I feel like the lowercase is my important contribution to this typestyle. Local newsweekly "pulse" used Liquorstore lowercase for their logo for while.

Later on I noticed that the Liquorstore font also resembled the GOLD MEDAL FLOUR sign that hangs over the Mississippi River. And the hand-painted signage at Doug & Tom's Market. And the NE Yacht Club. Turns out, it's a popular typestyle for sign-painters and neon-workers because it's easy to render. Almost all straight lines, with gently rounded corners. No curves and almost no diagonals. Just a simple typestyle to draw which is also easy to read. I really like the checkerboard effect that's created when you type up words with it; the positive space and the negative space, the black and white, are evenly weighted 50/50 so the font creates nice balanced visual rhythm when you type with it.

So, where’d the name come from?
River Liquors in NE Minneapolis. I was at a stop light looking at that beautiful, simple sign thinking "hmmm... I should make a font called Liquorstore." When you have a liquor store, you don't need to be fancy or ornate with your exterior signage; if your sign is big and clear and says "LIQUOR" people will come in.

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