(Photo courtesy Chris Gorz )
Last May, 43-year-old Andersonville artist Chris Gorz undertook the lofty goal of creating a series of unique screen printed posters to represent each of Chicago's 77 neighborhoods. He has completed seven so far, sticking to a small cluster of neighborhoods on Chicago's far north side. Soon, he hopes to focus on a few west and south side neighborhoods as well. RedEye caught up with Gorz recently to talk about the inspiration behind his designs.
Are you from Chicago originally?
Yep. I was born and raised. I've lived in Chicago my whole life. I actually grew up over in a neighborhood called Clearing by Midway Airport, but now I live in Andersonville. So, I'm a south side transplant living on the north side.
What was the inspiration behind the poster project?
One of the the things that I thought was really important was to get people to be able to connect with their neighborhood. I have a passion for art and architecture in Chicago, and I kind of put that all together to create the poster series.
How do you choose the images for you posters?
It's actually hard. Some neighborhoods are easier than others, but I like iconic images. Images that have staying power that people could relate to that really represent the neighborhood really well. So that's kind of how I pick the images.
How did you choose the neighborhoods themselves?
This week, I'm launching Bucktown, but I have seven others right now. I started in my own backyard. I live in Andersonville, but actually Uptown was my first one because I love post office. They just haven't made post offices like that for a long time.
People have told me they love the poster, but they hate the post office because, you know, it's the worst in the nation. I love those eagles, though. I love the art deco architecture, so that was really the first one I did. Then I did the Andersonville one, then I did Edgewater because Andersonville is part of Edgewater, so I started in my backyard. I am starting to go southbound. Bucktown is going to launch this weekend. I'm working on Lincoln Park and Gold Coast, but I'm also going to be doing Wicker Park, Logan Square and South Loop. I'm shooting to do eight. Last year I did six, so I'm hoping this year I can do eight. Really, my intent is do all 77 neighborhoods. It's going to take along time. I think it's probably going to take about 15 years, and I only started doing them last year.
Do you go to the neighborhoods and scope them out before hand?
What I'll do is, I'll go to the different neighborhoods and try and figure out what sort of images I can find in that neighborhood and I'll also take photographs and make sketches. What I try to do also is to make every iconic image look like hero. So you are always kind of looking up so that it's larger than life.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood?
I don't have a favorite neighborhood. I do have favorite streets, and those are the ones that go on an angle. Like Lincoln or Broadway and on the south side you've got Archer. Those are actually the most unique and that's where all the commerce happens. As far as the posters are concerned, it's like every time I do a poster, I have new favorite. But if I was on a deserted island and I could only bring one poster, it would be Uptown. Uptown was the first one I did, so it's kind of like my first love. I will always remember it.
What the deal with the new Bucktown poster? That's going to be your next one?
Bucktown is the only poster that doesn't have an image from the neighborhood. It actually features an image of a goat, because that's how Bucktown got its name. All of the early immigrants that lived there raised goats, and that's how Bucktown got its name. The vision I have is to help people connect deeply with their neighborhoods.
Which has been your best selling poster?
hey have all sold very well, but Andersonville has been the top seller so far.
Any other Chicago-related projects that you are planning for the future?
I think this one is going to keep me occupied for awhile. Every so often I get an idea, but I'm pretty focused on this project. [The posters] take awhile to do, and my goal is to do one every month and a half. It's a really time consuming process.
Gorz's posters are available for purchase at studiochris.com as well as select boutiques throughout Chicago including The Andersonville Galleria.