Art Imitates Life...Imitates Art (Canter's Truck #1 of 3)


Recently I had a strange (and kind of wonderful) confluence of circumstance—combined with a smattering of coincidence and random luck. It all started right here in this blog over a year ago when I started sharing my thoughts about creating my new font Deliscript. In the posting I mentioned how the design was "loosely inspired by one of the signs at Canter’s Deli", a Los Angeles staple for almost 80 years:

At any rate my good fortune with Deliscript began about two months ago when I learned that it been selected by the Type Directors Club in NYC for inclusion in their annual show. About a month later I got a call from Bonnie Bloomgarden, the great-granddaughter of Ben Canter—one of the original Canter Bros. She and her sister Dena were trying to do a few things to gently update the Deli, while still respecting its heritage. One of their ideas was to create a "Canter's Truck" and take advantage of the recent mobile gourmet food trucks craze. A lot of the newer trucks have been completely "wrapped" with colorful graphics using fairly new printing technology.

She told me that they had started looking for fonts to design the wrap for the truck themselves, but then realized it might be a little difficult for them without having a lot of graphic design experience. Then fortune smiled on Bonnie and Dena when they did a web search Googling "Deli" and "Font" and ran smack into Deliscript (probably because of the Canter's mention in this blog) and then in turn found, and contacted me.

It has been a real pleasure working with Bonnie, a young person with good entrepreneurial instincts that are combined with a keen sense of what is worth keeping in the Canter's visual vocabulary, and what perhaps should be let go. We both concurred that the truck identity should be based on that neon sign, and that I should use Deliscript as the starting point. I also suggested that we somehow should try to incorporate into the truck design their famous neon chef, who for years has been carrying that platter of freshly baked bread:

At first I tried to graphicallyt recreate him pretty much as he was for the side of the truck. I soon realized that my rendition seemed far too literal for the look I was going for. Then, in an old matchbook catalog, I found a cut of a little round chef carrying a platter of turkey, and decided to use that as the basis for creating my updated baker (a little slimmed down) for the door of the truck:

In "Art Imitates Life...Imitates Art #2" I'll discuss how we created the design for the truck.