School Street Posters is a map design and print studio in Chicago, IL.
We create beautiful, hand-made street map posters of college towns and cities using non-toxic, water-based inks and gorgeous card stock paper made from 100% renewable energy.
99% of our work is screen printed by hand in our shop, in small batches of 50-100 posters.
Screen printing is a very old and laborious printing technique. After designing the map, we coat a silkscreen in light-sensitive photo emulsion and “burn” the image into the screen in a dark room. We wash the image out with water, creating a very fine stencil. We then use a rubber squeegee to push a layer of ink through the stencil and onto the paper.
Unlike a poster made on a digital printer, the ink sits on top of the paper, so that the print is slightly 3-dimensional. You can feel the image when you run your hand over the print, and it creates a beautiful contrast between the textured fibers of the paper and the ink.
Screen printing allows us to achieve deep, fully saturated colors that are unmatched by digital and other printing methods. And because it is made by hand with real ink, each print is genuinely a unique piece of art.
Look closely and you can see evidence of the process.
We know you care about the products you bring into your home.
So do we.
That is why we print all of our posters locally in our Chicago workshop and use only non-toxic, water-based inks and emulsions. We never use solvents and we dispose of old ink and paint at a local recycling facility.
Our paper is sourced from the French Paper Company in Niles, Michigan, where they have been using hydro generators since 1922 to responsibly make some of the most beautiful paper on the planet.
And all of our frames and packing materials are sourced in the USA.
I created the Normal, Illinois poster for my home office after graduating from Illinois State University in 2005. Seeing the names of the streets and avenues on my wall remind me of the people and experiences from that period of my life.
Over time, friends saw the print and asked me to design street maps of their college towns, and I realized others felt the same connection with the places they called home for 4 years.
The name—School Street—is not only a description of the products I design, but also the street where my wife and I first met in 2003 in Normal, Illinois. That apartment complex is long gone, but the street remains.
When I started, I was literally making prints in the bathroom of my tiny apartment, and hanging them up to dry wherever I could find space.
But what began as a small project to create a single piece of artwork for my home, quickly evolved when the Big Ten Network did a story about us in 2015. The publicity crashed our website, and gave me the courage to quit my day job. Today, School Street Posters, Inc. is a 100% employee-owned small business, employing a mix of printers, packagers and framers.
Our artwork is inspired by the idea of Community.
Groups of individuals connected by shared experience, no matter their age. People who have sat in the same eateries and pubs, and strolled the same avenues and boulevards. It is language, customs, superstitions and rivalries. While people may come and go from the physical location, they never leave the Community. It is always part of them.
Our mission is to provide an expression of that Community. We hope you enjoy our work.