In this week's LA Weekly print edition, Gary Baum takes a serious look at the graphic design of food trucks, examining not only how the designs are used to market the food, but how they've been influenced by various aspects of the Southern California aesthetic.
What's been lost amidst all of the gluttonous hype and counterhype, however, has been the fact that the indigenous aspect of the movement isn't just the fusion-fixated menus (sushi burritos, bánh mì-inspired meatballs). It's how crucial the context of the city's design traditions — from billboards and murals to hot rods and lowriders — has been in defining the sensibility of the food truck scene by informing the physical appearance of the trucks themselves. Brightly colored, strikingly patterned, aggressively logoed and sometimes gaudily accessorized by largely amateur designers, they've become icons of the cityscape, a fleet of optimistic small-business chariots, each attempting to make a microbranded go of it, the still-sluggish economy be damned.
“This strange regional brew — thematic architecture like Randy's Donuts, the pervasive presence of billboards, the passion for customization in the Latino lowrider world — it's a strong roadside culture that these trucks are pulling from,” says LACMA contemporary art curator Rita Gonzalez.
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