Nicholas Knudson knows a chimu when he draws one


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Nicholas Knudson sat in front of a chalkboard sign on the sidewalk directly outside Spring for Coffee on downtown Spring Street on a recent afternoon. Wearing Ray-Bans and a baseball cap, the 31-year-old strawberry-blond artist dipped into his box of Crayola chalk and got to work drawing a fantastical animal that looked like an emotive pink-beaked raptor.

It looked related to the creature on a chalkboard in front of Two Bits Market on 5th Street and the thing Knudson calls a “chimu” on a wall at Chimu, the Peruvian restaurant that faces Angel’s Flight on Hill Street. (Chimu refers to a pre-Inca Peruvian culture, but “nobody knows what chimu is,” said Knudson. “It sounds like an animal. It’s kind of like a wide-eyed lizard thing eating a bowlful of food and looking like he’s gonna enjoy it.”) The raptor thing at Spring for Coffee had the same big, sad eyes and wrinkly-skinned face as the others. And Knudson drew all of them.


“I just ended up with a piece of chalk in my hand one day and Ken [Yoshitake, the co-owner of Spring for Coffee] said, ‘You should draw on my board,’” said Knudson, a regular at the tiny cafe. That was a year ago and now he refreshes the chalkboard with a new drawing semi-regularly. “I only do signs where I like the people. Either I have a friend there or I get a good barter. I gotta like what they’re doing.”

See more of Nick Knudson’s drawings here; a selection of his work is available for purchase at Spring for Coffee, 548 S. Spring St., Los Angeles.


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