WNW Member #3868 Amy Schwartz's profile background pretty much sums her up: bubbly, colorful, with just the right amount of whimsy. A designer by day and professor at night, Amy is hugely involved in the Chicago creative scene, a supporter of AIGA and co-founder of Liminal Space, an open studio for design-focused programming. If you make it to our upcoming Drinking Not Drinking, be sure to give Amy a hug as she's been the force behind organizing it, along with Jen Serafini and Jenelle Huddleston.
A lifelong midwesterner, Amy shares her love of Chicago and almost makes us forget the winters and want to move there. WNW Member #597 Lucy Hewett brings Chicago to life with her photographs.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you're currently loving:
I’m a lifelong Midwesterner who is finally settled back in Chicago after a two year stint in Detroit. I am an interaction designer/graphic designer/illustrator by day and a professor at DePaul University by night. I recently received my MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, which I mention because it was the most amazing experience of my life and I highly recommend it to anybody interested in deepening their studio practice. It definitely shaped the the way I work, how I think, and what I value.
Things I am currently loving, in no particular order:
1. The soundtrack to It Follows by Disasterpeace
2. Lusting over furniture by Eric Trine
3. Fresh carrot juice
4. Spider Gwen
5. The growing trend of self-initiated, unaffiliated design happenings and exhibitions.
Why did you move to Chicago?
I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, so it has always been home to me. When college rolled around, I only applied to schools within Chicago– I knew that if I wanted to make it as a designer, then I had to connect with a vibrant creative community before graduation, not after. I wanted to meet working designers, attend AIGA events, be near all of the city’s amazing museums, and have a shot at great internships. I also loved coming to the city as a kid, because everything felt so lively and authentic. I knew I wanted to experience that every day. I moved back to Chicago after finishing my MFA because my husband is here, but I definitely loved my time in Detroit.
How does the city inspire you?
Chicago is a classic, midwest city full of hardworking, honest people. I’m constantly inspired by the quality–and amount– of killer work that people are producing here. I feel like I need 30 hours in a day to keep up! The people here are genuine and they are so passionate about what they do, whatever field they are in. I’m also inspired by the city itself. Chicago is called a “city of neighborhoods”, and each neighborhood has a very distinct character. Even though I’ve lived here for 6 years, I still feel like there is so much left to explore.
Tell us about Chicago’s creative scene.
Chicago’s creative scene is active, lively, and welcoming. It’s not a small scene by any means, but everyone here knows each other, or at least knows of each other. It’s inspiring, because anyone you admire is just one introduction away. Once you’re introduced to that person, they’re likely going to become one of your friends, mentors, or at the very least an ally in the community.
There’s always some event going on, from designer talks to gallery shows, to city-wide programming like Chicago Ideas Week. There’s programming for everybody– and if you think there is something missing, it’s easy to make it happen yourself. That’s why I began Liminal Space, a series of programming focused on experimental design practice, last year with support from AIGA Chicago. If you put something out there, the community will support you and help it grow.
What other creative organizations do you recommend?
AIGA Chicago is incredibly active and they strive to host a wide range of engaging events, from mentorship groups to studio tours.
The Society of Typographic Arts is Chicago’s oldest professional design association, and they also have some quality events.
Other amazing organizations here include:
What are your favorite things about living there? What are some challenges?
My favorite things about Chicago:
The summers, the people, the juxtaposition of quiet neighborhoods and active strips of city, the ability to have any cuisine for any meal, the lakefront trail, the comfortable yet exciting pace of life.
My biggest challenges:
The winters, having to rely on a CTA bus, saying goodbye to everyone who moves to San Francisco.
What are some neighborhood spots that you love?
Rocking Horse is one of my favorite places to get dinner and a drink with friends. All of their food is amazing, they have a killer beer list, and they have chimichurri tater tots. What more could you want?
Ground Control is a vegetarian restaurant that I tried recently and fell completely in love with. I had smothered sweet potato tacos, and I want them to be my last meal before death. Highly recommended to all vegans and vegetarians.
Challengers Comics is a fantastic comic shop with a super friendly staff and great events, like artist signings.
Gaslight is a great place to grab a coffee and some beans to bring home.
Boiler Room Pizza is my circle’s default party spot. Amazing pizza by the slice, Jameson on tap, and great beers.