My name is Joe Mills. I am a full-time elementary art teacher and part-time freelance illustrator. I specialize in Chicago themed illustrations. What started out as a way to pay homage to my home after a move to Australia has turned into a mild obsession to find as many unique and creative ways to illustrate the City of Chicago. My other specialties include typography and calligrams. A calligram is a word or piece of text in which the design and layout of the letters create a visual image related to the meaning of the words themselves. For an example, see this example from my portfolioWhile I do have specific strengths, I am open to any number of illustration and design opportunities. I am an Adobe Certified Expert in Illustrator CS5 with over 15 years of experience. Please be sure to look at my full portfolio.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Chicago History Museum
Chicago White Sox
Choose Chicago
Chicago Reader
Illinois Marathon
ICM Properties
North Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau
Curious City – WBEZ 91.5

Commissioned Work
If you are interested in illustration or design work, please contact me for a quote. Each illustration is priced depending on the size and scope of each project. You can email me directly at joemills1 (at) gmail.com.

Process to Create Chicago Neighborhood Maps
For my Chicago neighborhood maps, each area is thoroughly researched before they are created. Boundaries are determined by looking at multiple sources as well as the 77 community areas in Chicago. I begin the maps by plotting all of the streets on the illustration. Then, the major landmarks, icons and historical districts are researched for the neighborhood. This includes historical districts, significant buildings, churches, schools and parks to name a few. Next, I travel to the neighborhood to take pictures and get a better idea of what it is like to be there. As a Chicago resident for over 13 years, I know a great deal about the layout of each neighborhood. However, this part of the process makes me see things I might not have noticed before. Using the pictures I took with images I found during my research, I organize how I want everything to look on the map. Finally, everything is drawn in its place.

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Midwest Living December 2017
Bank of America October 2017
Chicagoist Jul 18, 2017
Chicagoist June 13, 2017
WCIU You & Me December 7, 2016
The Reader November 23, 2016
DNAinfo November 6, 2015
DNAinfo October 29, 2014
DNAinfo September 12, 2014
DNAinfo February 28, 2014
DNAinfo December 13, 2013
Wicker Park Bucktown Insider’s Guide November 5, 2013