January 4, 2018

Giving artfully: Where to Donate Art Supplies in Chicago

Filed under: Community Outreach,Design & Art — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 4:00 pm

Updated 7/23/21. Please check websites for any COVID-related donation restrictions.

If you (or your kids) love working on art and craft projects, you’re bound to end up with lots of supplies that you no longer need. Don’t let all that good stuff go to waste: donate it!

After an office move, I loaded up my car with boxes of paper, books and art supplies and distributed them among several local organizations (as well as my son’s school). I had less items to move and I felt good knowing that a student, teacher or artist would make good use of the supplies—it was a win-win!

Where to donate?

There are several organizations in the Chicagoland area that accept donations of new and gently-used art, craft and design supplies and books. I have donated to these organizations and can attest to the good feeling that comes along with sharing with those in need—especially right here in my own community.

Art Makers Outpost

Art Makers Outpost (Evanston, IL) is an environmentally conscious art makers-space for young artists and adults to create art by repurposing items in an imaginative way. They accept donations of a variety of art materiel that can be reused in art classes and art kits. See their donation list.

Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRx)

Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRx) is a start-up nonprofit dedicated to creative reuse. They take surplus materials headed to the landfill, and put them in the hands of educators, artists, and community groups. See their donation list.

Creative Pitch

Creative Pitch (Chicago, IL) collects donations of paper, classroom and art supplies and distributes them to local teachers in need. My paper habit (obsession) leaves me with stacks of unused paper—which is put to good use by the Creative Pitch team. I’m proud to be a Creative Pitch supporter for many years. See their donation list.

Inklude Studio

Inklude Studio (Downers Grove, IL) offers an open, creative, and collaborative studio environment for adult artists with autism and other developmental challenges. They welcome donations of art supplies, fabric & sewing materials and photography or computer equipment that can be used in their programs. See their donation list.

The WasteShed

The WasteShed (Chicago, IL) is a creative reuse center that collects art and craft materials and makes them available in their retail store to artists, students, teachers and anyone else at a low price. Their store is a treat to visit and they also host art events. See their donation list.

Upcycling Colors

Upcycling Colors (Chicago, IL) collects leftover, used and unneeded art, craft and school supplies and reconditions them into attractive “like new” kits for children in need. They collect everyhting from paper and pens to loose puzzle pieces and toys. They have several drop-off locations across the city. See their donation list.

Open Books

Open Books (Chicago, IL) provides books and literacy programs to children throughout Chicago. Funding of their programs comes in large part from the sale of donated books in their stores. This is a great place to donate your art, design and craft books (and don’t be surprised if you walk out with a few books after dropping off your donations!) See their donation guidelines.

Making your efforts count

As a veteran “donater,” I can share an easy way to manage donations (and get more organized, to boot!)

  1. Label a cardboard box in your office “art donations.”
  2. Once a week, go through your office drawers, cabinets and shelves.
  3. As you come across items you no longer need (but are still usable), toss them in the box.
  4. At the end of the month, drop off your donations.

Make an even larger donation by combining your efforts with co-workers and colleagues, or start a donation drive at your business. Some organizations will also provide a donation letter for tax purposes. Happy donating!

Know of any other Chicagoland organizations that collect art & craft supplies? Please let me know!




October 22, 2012

Dream of seeing your photography in Chronicle Books? Two ways to make it happen.

Images © Chronicle Books (top) and © Janine Vangool, UPPERCASE magazine (bottom)

If you’re like me and regularly fantasize about having your work published by Chronicle Books, here are two opportunities that might make this a reality.

This is happening – Instagram book

Chronicle Books and Instagram are teaming up on a new book featuring Instagram users’ photos.

The assignment: send your favorite Instagram that captures a fleeting moment that made your day.

“This is Happening” page with submission details and entry form.

Typewriter Notecards

Janine Vangool, editor of the lovely UPPERCASE magazine is designing/curating a set of notecards featuring vintage typewriters, also to be published by Chronicle Books (spring 2014).

She is seeking Polaroid or lo-fi/retro-inspired photographs of vintage typewriters, taken by UPPERCASE readers.

Submission details can be found on the UPPERCASE website.

Good luck!

July 8, 2011

Exhibition review: Renaissance Prints in Daily Life

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 6:31 pm

photo © Art Institute of Chicago

I stopped by the Art Institute of Chicago today for a quick visit and stumbled upon a wonderful exhibit: Altered and Adorned: Using Renaissance Prints in Daily Life.

Most of us are used to seeing old woodcuts and engravings in books and on museum walls. But back when they were created (1500-1600s), Renaissance prints were sometimes used rather mundanely in daily life.

A few standout examples:

  • Prints adhered to wooden storage boxes—something you may still see today (see example at right)
  • Prints used as wall coverings (instead of the more costly tapestries of that time)
  • A “scrapbook” of engravings, woodcuts, etchings and aquatints pasted into a journal
  • Pattern books for needlework and amateur artists—similar to the Dover Art Books you find today
  • Compass and sundial decorated with woodcut prints
  • Prints used as playing cards—a great example is the Italian tarocchi deck, which you can still buy today in Florence
  • Anatomy flap prints: prints showing the human anatomy with removable, cut-out organs—a fabulous precursor to today’s pop-up books and paper cutting art

The exhibition runs through Sunday (July 10) and is worth a visit!

June 6, 2011

Hidden gems: unique sights to see in Chicago

Filed under: Creativity,Design & Art,Local (Chicago) — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 2:35 am

Summer is a great time to get out and explore Chicago’s great museums and public spaces. You may be familiar with the well-known spots, but but have you seen some of our hidden gems?

Being a fan of art and nature, I’m constantly seeking out new and interesting places to get my inspiration fix. Here are a few museums, gardens and cultural institutions that you may not have seen yet—tucked away in Chicago’s neighborhoods, along main streets, and in surrounding areas.

Unique sights to see in Chicago…

Loyola University Museum of Art (Magnificent Mile, Chicago IL)

A great stop on your next Magnificent Mile shopping trip, The Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) is located in Lewis Towers, a historic 1926 Gothic Revival building on the Water Tower Campus of Loyola University Chicago. The Museum maintains collections that explore and promote the spiritual in art of all faiths and cultures.

Oriental Institute (Hyde Park, Chicago IL)

One of my favorite local spots, The Oriental Institute is a research organization and museum devoted to the study of the ancient Near East—a fascinating period in art history (and one of my favorites!) The museum displays objects recovered by Oriental Institute excavations in permanent galleries devoted to ancient Egypt, Nubia, Persia, Mesopotamia and others, as well as rotating special exhibits.

The current Huichol exhibit

National Museum of Mexican Art (Pilsen, Chicago IL)

Maybe I’m biased because of my love of Mayan art (not to mention they are one of my clients) but this small museum manages to host some of the most striking art exhibits I’ve seen. Pair that with a rockin’ gift shop and eclectic restaurants and cafes nearby and you have the makings of a great museum trip.

See my blog post about the invitation and gallery graphics I designed for the current Huichol exhibit.

International Museum of Surgical Science (downtown, Chicago IL)

Admittedly I have not visited this museum (I’m scared!), but my friend who is a nurse did and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Museum features historical and modern-day artifacts, paintings and illustrations relating to the medical field. See a listing of current exhibitions.

One of my hand-bound journals

Gallery at the Center for Book & Paper Arts (CBPA) at Columbia College Chicago (South Loop, Chicago, IL)

Did you know Columbia College—my alma mater—has a center devoted to book and paper arts? It sure does and I was lucky enough to study hand bookbinding there post-graduation. The gallery features intriguing book and paper-related exhibitions and lectures. Check the website for gallery hours and current exhibitions.

Lurie Gardens at Millennium Park (Downtown, Chicago IL)

A true respite from the bustling city, the Lurie Gardens are located in the southeast end of Millennium Park, just steps from downtown Michigan Avenue. Stroll through the beautiful wildflowers or attend a free guided garden walk.

…and just outside Chicago

Japanese Garden at Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden Regenstein Center (Glencoe IL)

In addition to the breathtaking horticultural displays and lovely walking paths, the Chicago Botanic Garden hosts a wide variety of exhibitions, including photography and artwork. They also have workshops and classes for gardeners and artists. Gardening questions? They also maintain an extensive horticulture library, available to Garden members. I’ve been a member for years and still discover something new on each trip!

Know other hidden gems in Chicago? Leave a comment!

February 17, 2011

Featured Project: Exhibit Invitation & Gallery Panels

Filed under: Featured Design Project — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

left to right: gallery panel and exhibit invitation

We recently worked with the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood to create an exhibit invitation and gallery panels for the exhibition, La Nación Huichol: From the Sea to the Desert.

The goal was to create a visual identity that reflected—and respected—the rich history of Huichol art and culture. The opening reception for the exhibit was very well-attended—despite the sub-zero Chicago temperatures!

Special Note

After the exhibit closed, the exhibit panels I designed were donated to the Casa de Mondea in Real de Catorce (San Luis Potosi, Mexico). It’s an honor to know that my designs celebrating the Huichol will be appreciated for years to come!

See more examples of my Event Collateral design work.

March 4, 2010

Clean up your office—and help Creative Pitch!

Filed under: Community Outreach,Design & Art,Workspace — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 7:46 pm

I’m betting that most of us (especially if we are artists or parents) have lots of art supplies that we don’t use. Now you have a chance to clean up your office… and help out local schools: donate them to Creative Pitch.

This Chicago-based organization collects art supplies (new or used in good condition) and donates them to local art teachers in need. The reality is that school budgets don’t always allow for basic art supplies—many teachers pay out of their own pocket for necessary supplies.

Let’s help them out by cleaning up our offices (or kids’ playrooms) and donating our unused art supplies. I have been participating in Creative Pitch for many years now, and I’m always delighted to receive an email from a happy art teacher.

Creative Pitch is currently seeking the following items:

  • markers
  • crayons
  • colored pencils
  • paper
  • scissors
  • stock photo/illustration books

Have items to donate? Email info@creativepitch.org to inform them of your donation items and/or to set up a drop off time. (NO OFFICE SUPPLIES, PLEASE.)

Learn more or make a donation to Creative Pitch here.

October 2, 2009

Ravenswood ArtWalk this weekend!

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 9:00 am

The Ravenswood ArtWalk kicks off today! Visit with 175 artists displaying and selling their art along the Ravenswood Corridor from Lawrence to Cornelia (there is a free trolley.) See the RAW website or Twitter page for more info and a schedule.

August 21, 2009

Get your greeting card fix!

Filed under: Design & Art,Goods & Wares — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 8:00 am
Lidia Varesco Greetings Notecards

"Ciao" Notecards

We all know how important it is to follow-up with clients and prospects — not to mention send a birthday card to Aunt Sally.

If your greeting card stash needs a boost, stop by the Greetings by Lidia Varesco Design booth at the Chicago Indie Collection at Oakbrook Center this weekend!

Peruse our collection of elegant and whimsical greeting cards, notecards and stationery. Buy just one card or a whole set, so you’re prepared for any occasion. We can also personalize any card with your name, message or logo. Order any quantity — just ask us for details.

Chicago Indie Collection
Sat, Aug. 22:  10 am-9 pm / Sun, Aug. 23: 11 am-6 pm
Oakbrook Center
(Oak Brook IL) between Crate & Barrel and Lord & Taylor
Don’t forget to vote for us in the Shopper’s Choice Awards, we can both win prizes!

April 30, 2009

Take an art break

Filed under: Design & Art — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 2:35 pm

© Laura Berger

It’s almost Friday, you’ve had a long week, you’re ready to hit the couch. But wait: wouldn’t you rather unwind by looking at fabulous art, talking to fellow art lovers and perhaps partaking in a glass of wine? Then stop by Fill in the Blank Gallery for the opening reception of my friend Laura Berger. Into the Out “New works by Laura Berger” kicks off TOMORROW and runs all month.

Fill in the Blank Gallery is at 5038 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL. The Opening Reception is Friday, May 1st, 7:00-11:00 pm