March 4th, 2015

To commemorate the 2nd year anniversary of the The Mill's studio in Chicago, the team unknowingly collaborated on a series of hand-drawn illustrations that celebrate all the things each person loves about the city we now call home. Creative Director Bowe King explains the concept and design behind the project.

We wanted to make a piece that was not just from one person's mind, but rather, a piece that incorporated each person on the team’s voice. After some initial concepts that were more one dimensional, I thought of getting every person here to chip in. So without explanation, I sent a request out to the team for a simple one to two word description of what their favorite Chicago thing was - the key being to keep it simple and not over think it.

Mill Chicago 2nd Anniversary 1

The results were honest and fun reactions, including, of course, The Lake and The Food but also quirky things I hadn't thought of like House Music, Summer Bikinis, Craft Beer and Chicago's often present No Puking Policy.

Craftbeersimagegallery 2

The sketchy look of the illustrations was based off of a Chicago Mill+ illustrator's work, Matt Darnall, who is also a Chicago native. We thought it had a very artistically crafted and whimsical look to the line work. The initial idea was to create the icons in a cute vector art direction, but the hand-drawn look made things feel so much more personable and honest.

Millchi 2ndanniv 1

Adrian Navarro, Matt and I worked our way through the 49 mini illustrations, collaborating on ways to visualize the ideas that would read immediately, even at a small scale. We really just wanted to have fun, so we kept sketching and re-sketching some of the ideas to give things a little more charm.

Millchi 2ndanniv 2

We ended up with a collage of bits that show what makes our Mill studio and the city here enjoyable to be a part of. One of the most amusing things about the piece was that unbeknown to the group here, they all collaborated and had a part in it.

Take a closer look at the illustrations and see a guide to the meaning behind our favorite Chicago "things" below:Chicago Grid

  1. Hockey
  2. Hookah Bar - No Puke Policy
  3. Art Scene
  4. Chicago Skyline
  5. Lego’s
  6. Purple Pig
  7. Cookin & Grillin’
  8. The CTA
  9. Wrigley Field
  10. Bike Friendly
  11. St. Patty's Day
  12. Running
  13. The Lakefront!
  14. Old Style Beer
  15. Craft Beers (Beer Tap)
  16. T-Rex named Sue
  17. Lake Michigan (cat water-skiing)
  18. Summer Bar Patio's
  19. Pace of Life
  20. Penny
  21. Lakeshore Path (Rollerblading)
  22. Au Cheval Burgers
  23. Montrose Beach (Beach Ball)
  24. Ice Cream
  25. The Lake (Lake Michigan)
  26. Mopeds (Helmet)
  27. Alleys
  28. Lemmings (Pool & Pint)
  29. Hot Dog
  30. House Music
  31. The Lake (Speedos)
  32. Fishing
  33. Tea / Coffee
  34. Summer (Sun)
  35. Amazing Food
  36. Blues
  37. Summer (Bikinis)
  38. Nice Walk to Work
  39. Scarves
  40. Craft Beer (Pint)
  41. WBEZ/Radio Headphones
  42. Donuts
  43. Meat Packing
  44. Vintage Shops
  45. Snow
  46. Sunrise at Belmont Harbor
  47. Fishing 2