Chicagoans who haven’t heard of Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters might just be living under a rock.
And, if you were living under a rock, the people behind the project would probably find a way to make fun of your choice of residence.
RC Jones, Lauren Schroer and Jeni Brendemuehl have been designing Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters since 2012. The posters take shots at Chicago neighborhoods in a tongue-in-cheek way.
“We uploaded our posters to Tumblr over the weekend and within one week, it just exploded,” said Jones, 31 who made a joke about the Logan Square neighborhood to his co-worker, Jeni, that inspired the very first poster. “We had no idea it would take off like it did. Our blog quickly became viral."
But what started as a popular blog for Chicagoans soon became a popular business, as the group behind the posters began selling the posters online. Turns out, the business was a little too popular.
The Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters’ Etsy shop, where the trio sold the homemade posters, officially shut down as of June partly due to the group’s screen-printing “shop” closing, packing up and leaving.
“My living room was the shop, it was ridiculous. I would just fill my living room with these posters, so the whole floor would just be filled with them,” joked Schroer, 24, who would screen-print each poster by hand. She recently moved out of her Chicago apartment to pursue a masters degree in drawing in Italy.
“Lauren was great; she could screen print one poster every 37.5 seconds,” said Jones, a resident of Lincoln Square. “We knew it was getting a little crazy once she started timing how fast she could do it.”
With their busy schedules, the group isn’t complaining about closing the small business chapter of Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters and just going back to the basics--designing.
“The fun part is keeping the blog going and seeing people talk about it. We never meant for this to be a big shop or anything,” said Schroer, who is teaching painting classes in her home state of Kansas before moving to Italy in September. “It’s great that people like our stuff and that it’s hanging on their wall, it’s a compliment. But, we’re all pretty excited to just get back to the design part, the fun part.”
The group will continue creating new posters and uploading them to the Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters blog, where the venture began.
“We just decided to make the blog to keep all the posters in one place, and then WGN tweeted about us one day, and we were like ‘Crap, now we actually have to do this.’ We weren’t really sure what we were getting ourselves into,” said Brendemuehl, 24 of East Village.
The goal is to create one for each neighborhood.
“A lot of people send their suggestions online and give us tips on how we could make fun of their neighborhoods,” said Schroer, who previously lived in Lincoln Park. “Our posters are funny because they’re perception based. They’re all about reputation and perception, which is why we try to talk to people.”
Each poster’s saying and design are carefully thought-out and must get a good laugh before the group posts it onto the blog.
“There have been a couple we’ve thought of and been like ‘no, that’s too mean to say that, like that is too offensive,’ ” Schroer said. “It’s just the humor in the truth of the poster or at least the truth that is everybody’s perception is what makes the posters funny.”
The process begins with the group collectively researching a neighborhood, followed by Jones writing the slogan, which is then passed on to Schroer and Brendemuehl for designing of the graphics.
“This was a wonderful creative release. All three of us love Chicago and so many people love the neighborhood they live in,” said Jones, a professional copy writer. “So, it was really cool to get to design these and share them with people.”
Giving Chicagoans a good laugh while creating a strong friendship has been the highlight of Schroer’s life in the Windy City.
“I was really new to Chicago. I had only lived there for a year when these posters started getting really popular, so it was a great way to feel a part of a new place I was living,” Schroer said. “I no longer felt like a new kid, I felt like a part of Chicago and that was the best part for me.”
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