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Iconic Loop theater marquees get graphic design makeover

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New banners celebrating the city’s year of theater will go up in the Loop in September

Renderings side by side that show the dotted graphic design interpretation of Chicago’s iconic theater marquee signs. Chicago Loop Alliance

In celebration of Chicago’s iconic theater marquees, new banners on State Street will translate the flashy signs into dotted graphic designs. In line with the city’s year of theater, the project will debut in September.

The initiative is led by the Chicago Loop Alliance is in partnership with the Design Museum of Chicago and coincides with an art exhibit that showcases local costumes, props, drawings, and set pieces. “Setting the Stage: Objects of Chicago Theatre” will run through January 5, 2020 and will feature guest installations from nearby theaters too.

The new banners were initially created by students enrolled in One For One, a nonprofit program that connects kids in violent neighborhoods with mentors, workshops, and programs in the community.

The digitized graphic designs translate photos of Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago Theatre, CIBC Theatre, Goodman Theatre and Nederlander Theatre into dotted grids. Those hand-drawn sketches were then turned into yellow, blue, and white banners for the streetscape.

A similar project last year brought back John Massey’s 1968 graphic banners to State Street for their 50th anniversary.

A series of photos show the progression of the design from pencil drawing, to dotted grid paper, and then a completed blue banner with white and yellow dots.
The design process for the State Street banners.
Chicago Loop Alliance