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Ravenswood artist illustrates intricate portraits of Chicago homes

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The artist’s work is featured on The Big Sick and Netflix’s Easy


Chicago is known for its architecture, and while it’s easy to appreciate skyscrapers sometimes the worker’s cottages or bungalows are overlooked. A Ravenswood-based illustrator is making sure they don’t.

Phil Thompson, of Cape Horn Illustration, set out five years ago to create art that inspired him, which has evolved into crafting pen and ink artwork of Chicago’s unique residential architecture. His work has been featured on the sets of The Big Sick and Netflix’s Chicago-based show Easy.

“I just think the homes and buildings here have a staggering beauty to them. I grew up in the suburbs around homes trying to act colonial but aren’t. Chicago’s homes tell a story of American architecture finding itself post-Fire and pre-Depression and being made for the people—comfortable, practical, organic. I love it,” Thompson told Curbed Chicago.

His work is usually created through photos and for some local spots he’ll stop by to get the whole view or a different angle. He’s illustrated tons of homes throughout Chicago and his favorites get compiled into prints of the “greatest hits,” he said.

Once you learn the characteristics of certain styles, like greystones or bungalows, it’s hard not to notice the homes on your block in a new way. Some of Thompson’s new prints feature explainers so fans can get to know the buildings better. For example, most six-flat buildings feature a sun room in the front and three-flats typically have kitchens in the rear which made dairy deliveries easier.

Keep up with Cape Horn Illustration on its blog or shop the new prints. You can also find his work at local shops like Foursided, Neighborly and Transistor.