Cook County Social Club: WPA-inspired print

I was honored to create a print commemorating the 10th Anniversary Shows for the legendary improv group and long-time Chicago fixture, Cook County Social Club. Here are the steps behind the creation:

1. Concept. Greg Hess, CCSC and former classmate of mine at Stuarts Draft Middle School in VA, suggested doing something WPA inspired. That led me to a bunch of great WPA artwork around Chicago, including a very cool mural at the local Old Town School of Folk Music.

2. Here it is more fleshed out. I wanted it to look a little more like a homecoming, since that's what these shows were, CCSC returning to Chicago. And of course, like in WPA art, I needed to show the implements of work. There's also a combination of a few other common Depression-era themes: A fascination with train travel, highrises, and good old farming of the land.

3. Then, since I wanted to make this a screenprint, I used 5 colors: Yellow, dark blue, light blue, green, and brown. It was refreshing to be limited this way.

4. Then I turned to Emily Fundis to put my vision into a workable, screenprintable design. She does great work of her own and has the screenprinting experience to know what would work. This is how it turned out:  

And this is the actual CCSC improv team:

All Hail Map Room: A Traveller's Tavern (Don't Be Lost)

The other day we found ourselves walking on Armitage, through our old Bucktown neighborhood, and right by one of our favorite haunts, Map Room, one of the pioneering and still gold-standard beer bars of Chicago. This place is not only known for great beer, the building itself is very distinctive--it's one of those corner buildings with an entrance that is both boldly diagonal and sheltered under a nice eave. The geographical elements below the windows and the fantastic sign are two other great touches.

It was something like early 2009 that I was hanging out with my friend Matt, drinking a beer and admiring their maps, that I decided to create a map of Chicago's best beer bars, Map Room among them. That kicked off the Chicago beer map print,, and then the other maps. Cape Horn Illustration is, in one sense, the lineage of Map Room (cont. below).

One fact about this illustration is that I included two of my friends who were responsible for even getting me interested in trying Map Room, Jim and Tom (pictured walking out front). Jim was a co-worker who was very excited to hear that I lived down the street from Map Room, on Western and Armitage. I think we probably went there within a few weeks of knowing each other or something, and I distinctly remembering him encouraging me to try a Delerium Tremens as a way of getting out of my usual beer standbys and into the new.

I was never the same.

Memorizing Chicago by Numbers: A Rhymed Tour of the Major Streets

My wife is always getting lost on Chicago streets. Partly to cope, she's great at coming up with little memory tricks. When I first started taking the red line, I didn't know which direction was North or South. She taught me "Ho-No" for Howard-North.  I thought it sounded really dumb, but guess what--I think of it every single time I take the red line.

I wanted to help my wife remember the numbers of the major streets. The little rhymes below are supposed to help her make the connection between the streets and the numbers. If she knows the numbers for the major streets, then she'll know roughly where she is just by finding a numbered address. I hope some of these rhymes stick half as well as "Ho-No."

See it right here. >>

Two-flats of Chicago: Variations on a Theme

Do you love Two-Flats? You can have a print of my FAVORITE two-flats in your home (or give the gift of a print to the two-flat lovers in your life)! 

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