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.

An Interview with Tokara Sexton of Love Sexton

I'm super excited to present to you the first ever interview on this blog! Hopefully there will be many more to come in the near future - I really believe in supporting other artists and small business owners. I love reading about how they got where they are today, their process and the challenges they may have faced along the way. So, let's get right into it! Love Sexton features accessories that are bright, sassy and will definitely make you stand out in a crowd. The combination of color and texture makes for a truly astounding look. You can learn more about Tokara and Love Sexton through her Facebook page, or on Twitter and of course you should head on over to her shop and check out the rest of her work!

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First of all, where does the name Love Sexton come from? Sexton is my last name. I meant it to be sort of like the end of a letter, as in "Love, Sexton". I’m very intrigued with the colors in your work. What draws you to the materials you use? What first inspired you to paint such bright colors onto faux leather?

I am drawn to all bright colors. I love to surround myself with them as they make me happy. My house is painted in bright blues, yellows, and pinks. I am an artist at heart, I really wanted to incorporate my painting into my accessory making. I had been making the gold, black, and white style feathers for a long time, but I wanted COLOR! So through much trial and error I finally found the right fit between type of paint and type of material. 

Are there other materials you’d like to try? I have worked with silks before but I have never tried painting them. I think that's a future venture.

love sexton earrings

Did you have any big challenges when you started Love Sexton? Any current challenges? Start up money I guess was the biggest challenge. I really want only high quality supplies in my shop so it took a while to build up a collection of items and materials to work with. As for current challenges, just keeping up with demand all by myself. It's still at the point where I am enjoying it and not too stressed out, and I want to keep it that way. 

What is your personal style like? I guess I am part rocker style, part pin up girl. Very opposite. I am a very girly girl either way. I wear a lot of black with bright pops of color like the Neon Aztec earrings, or bright makeup.

Do you have any major influences or places to go for inspiration? I love all fashion. Love the designers who take chances. Love to check out fashion blogs.

love sexton pink and gold earrings

How do you go about promoting your shop?

Etsy is a great place to get noticed. I try and contact boutiques and blogs when I have time. It's kind of hard to promote when you're running a one girl business. 

Where do you hope to see Love Sexton in the next year? For right now I would like to maintain. I have some new ideas in the works, so I would like to get enough time to create and get those out.

Do you have any pearls of wisdom for other creatives? Be patient, try not to get discouraged (I have been doing this since 2006). Keep coming up with original pieces and your hard work will get noticed!

Thanks, Tokara!

Things Are Changing and It's Good

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Things have generally been feeling great lately - I've been feeling productive and more importantly, I've gotten to a point where I can see how much my work and vision has developed over the last 2-3 years. There is a stronger sense of who I want to be as a designer and creator, and a heightened sense of optimism that hasn't always been there. My etsy shop is slowly but surely picking up business, and with each new order comes a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement - along with a stronger drive to improve my work even more and create new things. It is the most challenged - and happy - I have felt in a while, and I hope to keep up the pace. The most exciting and satisfying thing about this career path is that every day is something new and eye-opening. There is always something to learn and new opportunities to grow. There are certainly days where inspiration simply does not come, but I'm slowly learning how to make the best use of those too. But all of the successes and failures are mine, and that feels great In the coming weeks I'll be reaching out to others who inspire me in hopes of creating some great new work for this blog. I'm so grateful for the mountains of support and feedback from friends and family, who undoubtedly play a huge role in helping me get here.

New Prints in the Shop

Woohoo! It's been a while since I've been able to add some new cards to the shop, but today I had the chance to add some photographic prints. I'm hard at work on some prints I'm really excited about, and without revealing too much, all I'll reveal is that they involve hand-rendered type. Hope you guys enjoy, I'll be adding lots of new stuff in the next few weeks! Oh, and don't forget it's 10% off for the next week!