steve shanabruch

Artist Steve Shanabruch Gives Graphic Life to Chicago Neighborhoods

Over the past 18 months, Chicago-based designer Steve Shanabruch has used graphics to give life to neighborhoods across Chicago ranging from the Loop to Budlong Woods. His self-initiated “Chicago Neighborhoods” project has gained him praise from Chicagoist and earned him a Best of the City nomination.

Beginning by selecting neighborhoods based on landmark structures that would instantly recognize to locals–such as Logan Square’s Centennial Monument or Beverly’s Givins Irish Castle–he now incorporates community spaces into his selection process.

Early Life and Education

Shanabruch worked on each poster from his dining room table at home, sketching in pencil before scanning into his computer. His goal is to produce one neighborhood print each month but oftentimes falls behind due to researching each area’s history and discovering iconic images; his childhood home being Beverly; then renting in Ravenswood Manor for some years and now living in Portage Park where the next poster he plans on producing features the city’s Portage Theater as the iconic image; not necessarily because this landmark is its most identifiable landmark but simply “because this image pops into my head”.

Professional Career

Steve Shanabruch is an artist who spends his days designing graphic advertisements for Titan, an advertising firm that places advertisements on CTA and Pace transit systems. Additionally, he initiated and designed his own project called the Chicago Neighborhoods Project featuring logos representing each Chicago neighborhood based on historical research and conversations with locals.

Shanabruch first got the idea for this project after seeing a National Park poster that echoed the style used by Works Progress Administration during the 1930s. Since then, he’s been creating posters to highlight Seattle communities – and currently working on one featuring Portage Park! Each poster is sketched out at home on his dining room table.

Personal Life

Steve Shanabruch is an artist with a deep-seated appreciation of Chicago neighborhoods. Tired of working 9-to-5 jobs, in 2011 he launched the Chicago Neighborhoods Project which brought vivid graphical life to neighborhoods such as Logan Square and Budlong Woods.

Shanabruch chooses an iconic landmark as inspiration for each logo he creates. For Logan Square’s Centennial Monument he chose an instantaneously recognizable structure while reflecting both civic pride and practical considerations; after growing up in Beverly he picked Givins’ Irish Castle as his choice.

His designs also took cues from WPA posters; their simple old-fashioned aesthetic is similar. He plans to keep working on his project until all Chicago’s community areas have been represented – currently, three neighborhood logos per week.

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