The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

This Chicago-Themed Typography Series Will Stir Your Civic Pride, With A Brilliant Design Twist

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 13, 2017 8:55PM

Today we learned a new word: calligram. For the uninitiated, it's a design or visual layout in which the letters of a word are used to create an image of that same concept. Sample sentence: Local artist Joe Mills is posting a Chicago-related calligram every day for 100 consecutive days, and the designs are absolutely delightful.

Mills, a full-time art teacher and part-time freelance illustrator (clients include the Chicago Reader and Chicago History Museum), has been creating Chicago-related prints and visual design for about eight years. He decided to amp up his artistic output when he heard about the #The100DayProject—which encourages creators to make and share daily works.

He took the challenge, which also sounded like an opportunity, and decided to make his project focus typographic calligrams—with that characteristic civic-pride angle, of course. "There are always things I wanted to do over the years, and to crease something almost every single day was a good outlet," he told Chicagoist.

So far, the impressive work ethic (he's at #71 as of Tuesday) has yielded equally impressive results. Mills' personal favorites include the Saturday Night Live Superfans and Jeanne Gang's Aqua skyscraper. It's one of my favorite buildings, he said. "I thought, 'How am I going to do this with just four letters?'" A forthcoming Original Rainbow Cone is also one of his preferred creations—just in time for summer.

Mills said he had no specific plans for the designs when he started. Now, he says he plans on doing something with the designs once they 100-day project is complete, even if he's not sure exactly what form it'll take. "After it's done, I'll see what makes sense. Maybe a print-on-demand option," he said.

You can follow Mills' push to the end on Twitter, where he hashtags updates with #100daysofchicago and #100daysofchicagotypography. And you can check out his online shop here, which includes cool Chicago-related prints galore.

Update, July 6:
Several of the calligram designs are now available to purchase as prints from Mills' Threadless shop. Check 'em out here.