Graphics, Marketing, Posters
The Alley Chicago
Client The Alley Chicago
involvement Art Direction & Photography
Year 2015 & 2023
Contributors Owner: Mark Thomas, Webmaster: Joe Turlow
Bringing the Madness Online

The Alley Chicago - a landmark in punk, goth, alternative, and heavy metal culture since 1976. This iconic store, deeply rooted in Chicago's subculture, required a digital reincarnation that echoed its physical charisma and rebellious spirit.

My approach was to create a digital presence as vibrant and impactful as the store itself. We developed a dynamic landing page and targeted Facebook ads, striking a balance between The Alley's traditional brick-and-mortar charm and its new online identity. Collaborating with the store's owner and webmaster, we crafted wireframes that accentuated their signature products - the in-store prominence of shoes and the online popularity of t-shirts. This strategic design choice was crucial in maintaining the store's distinct identity while transitioning to the digital space.

The initial wireframe choice, while rooted in practicality and user-friendliness, was imbued with the essence of The Alley. It was designed to be adaptable, ensuring longevity and relevance in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. My work with The Alley Chicago went beyond a mere online transition; it was a careful cultivation of its punk and alternative soul, ensuring that the store's legacy of defiance and uniqueness thrived in its new digital form. Through this transformation, The Alley's storied past and punk ethos have been successfully catapulted into the digital era, ready to engage a new generation.

Vibrant Visual Storytelling Through Photography

In the world of alternative rock and subculture fashion, the power of product photography cannot be understated. It's not just about displaying items; it's about capturing a brand's soul. For The Alley, a bastion of alternative and rock fashion, this meant stepping beyond conventional photography.

We seized the opportunity to showcase The Alley’s unique offerings through a photo session that was as unconventional as the store itself. Teaming up with a seasoned employee of The Alley, who also excelled as a professional burlesque performer, we embarked on a creative journey. This collaboration was more than a photoshoot; it was a celebration of the diverse, rebellious spirit that The Alley has championed since 1976.

Our aim was to create images that did more than just display products. We wanted to capture the essence of The Alley’s spirit. Each photograph was a narrative, encapsulating the allure of leather jackets and the delicate boldness of lace lingerie, all while resonating with The Alley’s distinctive rebellious and spirited ethos. This visual storytelling not only highlighted the quality of the products but also paid homage to the rich legacy of The Alley as a landmark in the alternative rock scene.

Reviving Local Connections with Targeted Print Campaigns

As The Alley approached its closing chapter, we recognized the importance of reconnecting with the local community that had been its backbone. It was essential to remind Chicagoans of the landmark store that had been a haven for alternative, punk, and rock enthusiasts for decades.

Our strategy involved launching targeted print campaigns, tailored specifically for the local audience. These were not just advertisements; they were reminders, memories, and invitations to revisit the store that had been a significant part of their cultural landscape. Each piece of printed material was designed to evoke nostalgia and a sense of urgency, encouraging locals to experience The Alley one last time.

Through these carefully crafted local print initiatives, we aimed to give The Alley a fitting send-off. It was a celebration of its history and an acknowledgment of its impact on the local community. By focusing on the local audience, we ensured that The Alley's final weeks were not only a period of closure but also a commemoration of its enduring legacy in Chicago's alternative and rock scene.