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Thought-Provokers: West Side

Chicago has always had an artistic soul. The culture and heritage of our city, like most great cities, owes a tremendous debt to the arts community. Supporting local art is something we care deeply about and we’d like to do everything we can to help the local arts community thrive. Unfortunately, too often media attention is monopolized by corporate interests and tabloid gossip – but culture doesn’t come from a focus on celebrity breakups it comes from a focus on the arts.

Below, you’ll find some incredible artists from in and around the West Side that we hope you will check out, follow and support.

Ellen Cyrier

I’ve worked as a wedding photographer, created pieces for public areas, traveled and gotten some great inspiration and photos along the way, been featured in publications, and have met amazing people that inspire me every day. I’m looking forward to learning more, collaborating with others, and continuing to make new art. Read more>>

Stacey Montgomery

Creating art as a hobby and creating are as part of a business are two different things. It is important to treat it as a business. Create a business plan, that includes a strong marketing component. And then, work the plan. A couple of aha moments for my business was creating a mission statement and pinpointing my ideal customer. Read more>>

Olivia Boyd

Mostly, I worked on my own projects alongside several other comic artists, at a desk that doubled as their liquor cabinet. But being in that space kept me motivated, and I learned quite a lot (like how to link things properly, and that having a studio dog is the best. Read more>>

Lam Ho

Visions of an undocumented victim of domestic violence speaking to almost a hundred people about her survival, and urging them to join her fight. Working with grassroots activists to stop deportation already underway—convincing ICE to land a plane in Texas and return a father to his family. Read more>>

Check out James Deans

I’d be confident enough in my craft to twist my fiancee her engagement ring. For me, in my opinion, an engagement ring should be an extension of one’s self to their significant other. The importance is not in the number of diamonds set or the absurd amount of money spent to show that appreciation. Read more>>

Mat Festa

I feel somehow closer to all the inarticulate meanings and emotions I hope my work can express. Like a cloistered monk spending each day moving between a tiny cell and book-filled scriptorium, laboring for years to illuminate a single manuscript, crafting each intricate detail with silent passionate purpose. Read more>>

Sarah Glover

I want to share my wisdom with them, give them confidence, and empower them. The younger generation needs to know that they are heard and that they can impact the world. When performing, my goal is to make the audience feel something. Anything. Art is an interpretation, you can take whatever you want away from it, and you will never be wrong. Read more>>

Emily Perkins

Holding yourself accountable to a schedule you make yourself is one of the most challenging aspects of working for yourself. If you -can- wake up whenever you want, why wouldn’t you do that instead of waking up early to smash tasks? Because you love it! Make sure you love it. Read more>>

Kristen Janes

I married my best friend from college, had three kids, did flowers for over 1,000 weddings, built a talented group of freelance staff, had a large floral design studio located in Naperville for seven years and just moved my business back home this year to get more work-life balance. It has been a long, wild, challenging, creative and rewarding ride over the years and I am happy to be doing what I love, surrounded by people I love, every day. Read more>>

Brian Zurek

About eight years ago, I met a friend that helped me rekindle my love for monsters and making art. From then till now, I’ve been dedicated to learning almost every possible way I can to create different forms of 2 and 3-dimensional art. Focusing mainly on makeup and fabrication I’ve been working on different projects as much as I possibly can. Read more>>

Kamilah Jones

I started hard Decora in 2014 after being inspired by a single photo on Tumblr of a fashionable Japanese girl carrying a pastel gun. And I thought “what if there was a Harajuku fashion girl gang that could stand up for the misfits just by being themselves?” from there I started drawing all these characters and creating this story. Read more>>

Kioto Aoki

My films and photographs were musical, rhythmic and physical and the way I play taiko reflects the quiet narrative trajectory as my images. And all aspects of my practice embodies the refined sensibilities of Japanese aesthetics. I’m still navigating what it means to be an artist. Read more>>

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