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Chicago Public Libraries Seek Artists for Design Contest

March 4, 2009

From our friends at the CPL:


Chicago, IL – Fresh on the heels of the Not What You Think campaign, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) today announced a design contest that will bring attention to a hip, shortened version of the library’s official website address. Running from March 5 to April 9, Chicagoland artists are invited to submit original designs using as inspiration the URL “” Judges for the contest will include renowned Chicago-based poster maker Jay Ryan, owner of screen print poster workshop – The Bird Machine, award-winning photographer Brian Willette, Creative Director at All Terrain/Chicago, and Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey. The winners will be unveiled at a free public event on April 23, 2009, at the Harold Washington Library Center in downtown Chicago.

“Our Not What You Think campaign challenges perceptions and highlights the library’s less well-known free services such as music and audiobook downloads, new release DVDs, and free Wi-Fi” said Ruth Lednicer, CPL’s Director of Marketing. “A design contest around the ‘shorthand’ version of our web address engages Chicago’s robust design community as well as shows our commitment to try unique ways of connecting with a new set of users who increasingly relate to topics through visual elements. I’m excited to see all of the creative designs that will be submitted and hope that through these efforts more people will visit since it’s a great place to learn about all we have to offer.”

The final piece of the design contest concept fell into place when Jay Ryan agreed to be part of the judging panel. Ryan’s posters, typically promoting rock bands and clubs, have been plastered throughout Chicago – from record stores, coffee shops and music venues to art studios, offices and bedrooms for over the past decade. His eclectic work has a distinctive, uniquely subtle illustration edge that gets noticed right away. Ryan has also illustrated book covers for Harper Collins and has written a book, 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels, which showcases his work across the country.

“My local library is a great place to go to find inspiration for my work,” said Ryan. “I can get new ideas by browsing everything from Shel Silverstein to the newest design books, then go find some CDs to take home. I’m pleased to get to be involved in this interaction between the Chicago Public Library and the design community.”

Submission Guidelines

Ryan, Willette and CPL Commissioner Dempsey will determine contest winners based on creativity, innovation and original expression embodying the essence of the Chicago Public Library. All designs must incorporate the URL and need to comply with submission criteria posted at

Thirty (30) finalists will be selected and receive a professionally printed poster of their design. Of the thirty finalists, two winning designs will receive special honors as Grand Prize and People’s Choice Winners.

The Grand Prize Winner’s design, as determined by the judging panel, will be unveiled at a special event on April 23, 2009, held at the Harold Washington Library Center in downtown Chicago. The design will be featured in a limited run Chicago Public Library advertisement. The Grand Prize Winner will also receive a framed, professionally printed poster of their winning design and a framed un-colored pencil drawing of an original screen print contributed by Jay Ryan.

The People’s Choice Winner will be selected by online voters who, during National Library Week (April 12-18, 2009), visit a special site showcasing the top 30 designers as chosen by the official judging panel. The People’s Choice Winner will receive a framed, professionally printed poster of their design.

For rules, submission guidelines and examples of design entries, visit For more help, visit your local public library, browse the art or design sections, or ask the librarian for tips on inspiration.


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