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.
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.
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.