The Return

california dreaming

It has been quite a while hasn't it? In all honesty I needed some time to evaluate where I wanted this blog to go, and just my business in general. It has been so exciting and empowering to have full control of the direction of my career as I venture into freelance life, but it is also quite overwhelming at times. There have been so many decisions I did not anticipate needing to contemplate. But despite the stress and occasional panic (ok, more than occasional), it is still the best adventure I've ever chosen.

As part of my business soul-searching, I traveled out west for the first time ever, exploring Los Angeles with a friend who used to live there. Being in California felt dreamy and inspiring and unlocked my mind, which had been feeling cloudy for a few months. I always find it fascinating how refreshed your mind feels from being in an unfamiliar place. The designer in me swooned at all of the gorgeous type found on signage, while the photographer in me went wild over the landscapes and golden sunlight.

los angeles5
los angeles5
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los angeles4

I was surprised at how hard I fell in love with this city - with all of the beautiful plants, the architecture, the art, the ocean, the mountains - it's hard to walk away feeling anything but a little romantic and daydreamy.  

Cold & Sunny

There have been quite a few days where the morning sun is so bright and perfect, offering a certain harmony that you almost forget the biting cold weather. Photo from my instagram. You can follow me @highfivesforeveryone.

From a Chicago Rooftop

Sometimes, I'm really lucky and I get paid to take photos from the rooftops of buildings. This morning, while on the job I snuck in a few photos just for myself. With the gorgeous light offered today, it would have been foolish not to. These are the days I live for.

That last photograph is not from a rooftop, but it is from this morning's light adventure. I accidentally overexposed it, but I thought it ended up looking very haunting and intriguing, no? I do love happy accidents.

An Interview with the Folks of Slight Insulting Chicago Posters

downtown chicago view If you live in Chicago, you know that it's a city defined by its neighborhoods; each one has their own personality. And while each one has its merits, there seems to be a lot of room for poking fun at them too. That's where the folks of Slightly Insulting Chicago come in: Lauren, RC and Jeni have just the right chemistry together to concoct posters combining gorgeous and playful typography with some witty, lighthearted humor. I was immediately enamored with their work, and was lucky enough to chat with them about it this week. It was only fitting that we take a photo high up on top of a building, overlooking all the neighborhoods of this town!

How did the idea of Slightly Insulting posters begin?

It really start out of a random conversation. We were talking about Logan Square one day and RC made a funny comment about it, and Jeni decided to make a type poster out of it. And then we just thought it would be fun to try and come up with sayings for other neighborhoods. Then came the blog, we had a few followers, and then one day WGN (a local news channel) tweeted our blog and it really blew up from there.

uptown and south loop slightly insulting chicagoWhat kinds of projects were you working on prior to Slightly Insulting Posters?

Last November our friend Dave grew a mustache and it wasn't well received. We decided it would be fun to create a blog encouraging him to keep it. Out of that "Save Dave's 'Stache" was born. In the end, Dave shaved, but before he did we gathered photos from all over the states (and Africa!) of his friends, family and coworkers urging him to keep the mustache. That was our first group Tumblr project. RC has a website where he graphs what is and isn't cool and the three of us regularly discuss the coolness of various topics.

What is your favorite poster so far?

Lauren: My favorite is Uptown. It was fun to mix 1920s and psych ward inspiration into the design. Also, I shop at the Target in Uptown. This poster could not be closer to the truth.

RC: The Loop. Not only is it where the bulk of Chicagoans work, it's the beating heart of this city and where tourists from the suburbs and beyond walk with little regard for those around them. What an interesting and occasionally frustrating mix. The poster captures those feelings in a beautiful way.

Jeni: Pilsen. Moustaches make everything look cooler, except for people (that does not include our friend Dave. Dave looks rad with a mustache).

Describe your relationship with Chicago.

Lauren: My relationship with Chicago is a semi-new one. I moved here from Kansas a little over a year ago, and I now reside in Lincoln Park. I had little time between graduation and starting a new job in a new city, so figuring out where to live was based off of others' perceptions of each neighborhood online. I love living and working in Chicago, it's such a fun place to be!

RC: I few up on a farm in Idaho. I feel in love with a Chicagoan in New York. I moved here, married her and made a family. This is the city I've chosen, and I love calling it home. I will argue it's the best in the US and plan on never leaving it. You will have to pry my hands off of an L station turnstile before I move to Naperville (a Chicago suburb).

Jeni: I moved here from Milwaukee a year ago for the obvious awesomeness of this great city. Starting off living in Wrigleyville, I instantly knew I could not live in that neighborhood any longer than I had to and escaped to the Ukrainian Village. Even though online dating in the city has been a complete fail, I'm totally in love with Chicago.

slightly insulting chicago creators


Each of Chicago's neighborhoods seem to be widely known for something. In what way (if any) have your personal experiences influenced what you say about each neighborhood?

Our own personal experiences seem to affect what the posters say in different ways. We seem to have the hardest time insulting our own neighborhoods, and it's probably because we are too close with the area to make a joke that generalizes the entire neighborhood. On the other hand, we all work in the Loop, and seemed to settle on that line pretty quickly because it's a shared frustration that we all have going to and from work. Why do tourists walk six wide down Michigan Avenue?! Much like Lauren's search to find a new place to live, our posters are very "perception based". We try to listen to what others say about their own neighborhoods in order to come up with a slightly insulting poster that holds the best balance of humor and truth.

When you're not working on new insults, how do you spend your time?

We all work together in advertising, and happen to sit within 10 feet of each other. Jeni and Lauren are art directors and RC is the copywriter (or "word boy" as we like to call him.) So most of the time we're doing "real work". Lauren got dubbed as a "yoga addict" the other day, so that's what she does with her time not spent in front of a screen. RC has a three-year-old he chases around the city on various adventures. Jeni is often trying to figure out what to have for dinner and hiccuping. We also enjoy getting on the roofs of buildings.


What are you most passionate about?

Lauren: I'm most passionate about constantly creating. I'm always drawing or doodling or in the process of making something. And while some might call me insane, this is the only thing that keeps me sane.

RC: I'm passionate about not letting my creativity go to waste; it's a gift from God and it's my responsibility to use it, whether by writing, drawing graphs, making others laugh or taking my son on fun city adventures. And I want to visit all 50 states (I'm at 34) and climb on top of as many Chicago skyscrapers as possible. The city's skyline is even more breathtaking from the roof of a 40 story building.

Jeni: When I'm not at work working, I'm probably at my kitchen table or a Starbucks designing something, anything. Being an art director is much more than a career, it is a complete lifestyle, it takes over, and I couldn't be happier. But I also fancy architecture (which makes living in Chicago a dream) and interior design, and suffer from a slight shopping addiction.

Can you tell us which neighborhood you're looking to slightly insult next?

Roscoe Village, Ravenswood, Hegewisch and a number of South Side neighborhoods.

You can purchase their prints here, or follow their Tumblr here.

A Little Dose of Architecture

architecture in chicago house of blues and hancock tower Chicago is known for its vast amount of beautiful architecture, and I thought I'd share some of my recent Instagrams from around town. That first one is at the House of Blues downtown, which is a really cool, intimate venue to see a show. And obviously the details inside are gorgeous, but you've got to see it for yourself.

Ok, so this is actually from Evanston, just north of Chicago, but I'm totally in love with this sculpture! The whole piece is actually two people balancing on either end of this beam on top of the building.

bryna and mark at chicago public library
It's hard to tell, but this photo was taken at a wedding inside the Chicago Public Library downtown. You really ought to check it out, especially the top floor.

You can see more of my Instagrams by following @highfivesforeveryone.

Current Work / Brad & Hannah

My buddy Brad and his stunning wife Hannah (seriously, look at that smile!) recently moved out to L.A., and before they left, I had the opportunity to photograph them in all their lovey bliss around Chicago so they could always remember home. These guys were so playful and natural, which made it a blast to photograph them! See for yourself how seriously adorable they are together.

brad and hannah

This was the first time I played around with Visual Supply Co's Film Set, which made editing feel new and exciting, and also gave me options I never would have come up with on my own. I'm really enjoying using it so far!

You can find more photos from this shoot on my Facebook page.

Want to book a portrait session? Contact me!

Playing Catchup

So, I was a little MIA during the month of June. I cannot believe how quickly it went by! My parents were in town, which was really exciting since I don't get to see them a whole lot. We took an architectural boat tour (highly recommended, even if you live in Chicago), saw the Red Sox/Cubs game, and celebrated Father's Day/my birthday. Mark's parents joined us for the celebrations, and all in all it was pretty perfect. Lots of laughter and delicious food from Gene's Sausage shop (I'm crazy about the wild boar sausage!). Plus, how gorgeous is their branding?! Anyway, things haven't exactly calmed down around here, but I'm getting back into the groove of things, and working on lots of new projects, including updates on my website and some other surprises I cannot wait to share.

As always, you can follow me on Instagram at @highfivesforeveryone