Chicago Public Library – John Rieben

John Rieban’s importance to graphic design can’t be understated, and the work he designed for the Chicago Public Library, titled Chicago Public Library, was one of many indicators of this. This is my favorite piece by Rieben because it draws the eyes of the viewer with the giant red “a” and brings you closer only for you to discover that it is advertising for a place that personifies the beauty of the ad. He strikingly uses text and color to make the print unmissable to the passerby and reminds them of why they were drawn in with the text lining the bottom of the piece. Usually, humor is not read very well with print design, but the quip at the end “the Chicago library has all of them in some very interesting combinations” harkens back to his childhood dreams of being a comic. Another enticing aspect of this piece is the fact that the big red “a” seems to be peeking out from the edge of the print, not fully shown. This, along with its immense size compared to the rest of the text, represents the amount of knowledge contained within the confines of the library walls. The negative space in the “a” looks like the symbol that represents infinity, another indicator of Rieben’s message that the library has endless knowledge. This piece is very important because it shines light on an under-appreciated system of our government. This piece, though lacking geometric abstraction, was heavily inspired by John Massey’s early print work.


“Artist of the Day, December 26, John Massey, American Graphic Designer.” Artist of the Day,