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Who is Ian? Why does he have a party? With humble beginnings as a small punk rock event held in dilapidated suburban bars, “Chicago’s Favorite Rock and Roll Clusterf*ck,” Ian’s Party materializes at the first weekend of every year. In the coldest darkest depths of Chicago winter, it emerges as a warm (sweaty?) celebration of the city’s vast music culture. It became a Chicago local music staple for over a decade until a certain global pandemic—not naming names—had different plans. 


While I was both a performer and organizer at nearly every instance of Ian’s Party, I had the immense pleasure of holding the title of art director for three years of the event; 2016, 2019, and 2020.

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Header photo by Patrick Houdek


2016: 80s chimps

Ian’s Party 2016 was the most transformative year for the event. One of the founders and lead organizer James J Miller asked me informally to make a poster design for the 2016 party. Nothing too heavy. With a small bit of history in one of the other organizers having worn an odd monkey mask at the first iteration of the event, James said “can you draw some chimpanzees that look like they’re from the 80s?” I said, “…yes.”So, I drew up some 80s chimpanzee posters.

James wanted the event to have a nostalgic 80s aesthetic while also embracing the persistent primate-related themes of Ian's Party. Did I mention there's a persistent primate theme? There's a persistent primate theme.


Handbill and Postcard Flyer

But, as the acts signing on to perform piled on and buzz around the event began to circulate, James and I began to meet frequently to consider how we could expand the visual landscape of Ian’s Party and how to invest that time and effort into building something much larger than we had in any year prior. 

Above is the schedule the partygoers carried with them the whole weekend to keep track of set times. The schedule also acted as a coupon for our local beer partner Half Acre.

Promo Poster and Digital Assets

Tickets for 2016's Party ultimately sold out but it was no small effort to make sure that they did. As a volunteer-based staff, we were frequently wearing many hats at once. Even if we had no meaningful experience wearing a given hat.


The poster of the hungover chimpanzee was offered as a promotion to early ticket patrons. We commissioned a special 3-color silkscreen print from Chicago's Exploding House Printing.

Additionally, our partnership with Chicago's popular Half Acre Brewing expanded our marketing reach well outside of the frequently-seen faces in the music scene.

Ticket Graphics on
official website

Digital schedule

2019: Monkey Mask

2019's Ian's Party, while a bit less involved saw the continuation of the ape imagery. But with a bit of history. At the first iteration of the Party, the namesake of Ian's Party—Ian himself—donned a strange money mask. From that point on, the monkey mask itself became somewhat of a symbol for the event. Leaning into that, James and I conceived of the theme of 2019. Masks.

But, if I am being honest here, I think this year fell short of graphic potential. However, it made up for it in reach and a new understanding of how to appropriately market the event.


Social media promotional graphics

Instagram story with act list

2020: 70s BAD LUCK

2020’s IP took cues from late 1970s design, warm tones punctuated with straight lines through drawn with a defiantly broken pen. Additionally, we focused a bit on the concept of bad luck in the illustrated aspects. An eerie coincidence for an event in January 2020.


Teaming up with Chicago illustrator Kaitlyn Beiriger, my concept for Ian’s Party 2020 aimed to be understated yet quietly chaotic. Given the chaotic reputation IP carried by this point, it felt less appropriate to showcase the energy of the event itself, but rather the calm before the storm. With odd, creepy, and cryptic imagery, 2020 took on a more mysterious air. 2020 also saw the implementation of the monkey mask as an established design element.


Website hero graphic


Two of many poster variations

The marketing got pretty weird...

Initial teaser graphics for social media and print


Logo and brand color variations

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