CHICAGO | Looking for a unique memento of Chicago or it’s rich sports history? Then head to the newest art gallery in Logan Square, All Star Press. All Star Press is dedicated to unique works of screen-printed art in the form of sports posters and merchandise. We caught up with the artist behind the endeavor, Zissou Tassef-Elenkoff, to learn more about his inspirations and vision.
How long have you been in Chicago? What keeps you here?
I moved here in 2002 to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and fell in love with the city and its hard-working yet relaxed nature. Fourteen years later I find myself with two businesses, a 6-year-old son and a house in Humboldt Park. At this point, Chicago is my home and more than likely it will be for the next 14 years. It;s a wonderful place to settle down — hot summers, proper winters and a growing art scene that I hope, in some way, I have contributed to.
How did you first become interested in art and the specific styles of art you practice today?
I first learned how to screen print in London with a dear old friend and I fell in love with it instantly. Once I moved to Chicago, I was taken under the wing of Doug Huston at the Art Institute and, later, Bill’s at Chicago Silkscreen where I worked for just under a year. My current style I have continued to develop over the past few years.
Did you play sports growing up? Which are your favorite to watch or play?
I’ve always loved sports since i was around six.i played soccer, basketball, cricket and, unfortunately, rugby for two years (which I hated). Growing up in London, I always longed to play baseball and American football (though I’m not nearly big enough). Instead, I watched the games religiously as a child from across the pond, taking care to memorize all of the players and their stats. I remember buying my first baseball encyclopedia in Pennsylvania when i was around 13, studying it cover to cover with my step dad — it would be our bible for years to come. So, long story short, I love to watch and play most sports. Sports, in my mind, will always have that romantic pastime feel to it, the burgers and the freshly cut grass. For me, sports are just as sentimental as art is.
With regard to your Air Jordan design project for Nike, which pair of Jordans is your personal favorite?
I’m generally old-fashioned at heart so the classic Air Jordan 1s are my go to. Working for Nike and Jordan brought back so many memories of kids at school with their new Jordans and the teen arguments that followed about which pairs were the best or which team was better than which. For my generation, Jordans hold that weight.
What experiences or trends do you find most influence your work?
Well, obviously sports. But, I also get a lot of my inspiration from other works of art, visual or otherwise. I’m a huge film guy, and if i wasn’t making posters I would be trying to make movies. So, I would say that a lot of what I look to visually comes from cinema and my experiences with it.
What do you hope the opening of All Star Press will achieve for the local Chicago art scene?
I hope to bring the two worlds together. Chicago has a rich art scene at the moment and I’m just trying to help it along with a slightly new twist. Art should be for everyone and not just for those who have the expendable income to enjoy it. It should be something that brings people together.
All Star Press
2775 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Wed – Thu: 9:00am to 7:00pm
Fri – Sun: 11:00am to 7:00pm