Poetry News

Carl Sandburg's typographic "Chicago"

By Harriet Staff

Chicagoist talks to graphic artist Bud Rodecker about his typographic series Ode to Carl. The project grew out of his self-imposed mission to make one new piece of artwork daily. Though titled RicharDaily, the first series of daily art didn't have nearly the connection to Chicago that the Sandburg graphics do. Writer Betsy Mikel notes that students in Chicago study Sandburg "ad nauseum" so it really takes something different to make the poem fresh in the jaded eyes of Chicago natives.

Chicago has those amazing, short phrases that are so iconic,” Rodecker said. “They were just perfect for some imagery. There’s something about the way that he writes that’s very direct. It has the Chicago soul.” In playing with the words of Chicago, Rodecker said he was trying to create a visual expression that expresses the word of Sandburg in a new way and bring them to a different audience.

As he was working on Ode to Carl, Rodecker worked on simplifying his design to match the simple, direct language of the poem. “If there’s less on a page, everything that’s on that page better be perfect. I would start with the basic elements — circles, half circles, rectangles and triangles — and move them around until they came together.”

Originally Published: March 18th, 2011