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Riot Fest a 'Big Fish' for Local Poster Designer

By Darryl Holliday | May 28, 2014 9:30am
 Artist Vincent DeSantiago created posters for Riot Fest
Vincent DeSantiago
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HUMBOLDT PARK — Riot Fest’s designer du jour is a Humboldt Park resident who, since he recently lost his full-time job, says the gig with the concert series is "a huge deal."

Vincent DeSantiago scored a gig designing display and promotional materials for Riot Fest and was let go from his full-time job the same week those materials were due.

Having lived in Logan Square and Humboldt Park with his wife and dog for the last eight years, DeSantiago said Riot Fest’s DIY, locally sourced esthetic was perfect for him as a burgeoning Chicago artist.

DeSantiago, who grew up in Chicago and is a graduate of Chicago Academy for the Arts High School, worked as a designer until Thursday afternoon, he said, so the Riot Fest gig fell into his lap at an ideal time

“I heard they were looking for a new design for the fest, so I got in contact. We emailed a few times, had a meeting, talked about ideas and what they wanted for the fest. Then I came back to them with three concepts, and it kinda took off from there" he said. "It was a very collaborative endeavor — but I don’t have much of a social life right now.”

That’s because DeSantiago had been working his full-time job alongside what he estimates to be 120 to 140 hours over the last month getting his designs perfect for Riot Fest, including three posters for each city — the event is also held in Toronto and Denver as well as Humboldt Park — plus site maps, Web and print promotion materials and a T-shirt for the entire tour.

“People think Riot Fest is a big corporation like Lollapalooza, but it’s really, like, five people in a storefront working their asses off. It's people staying up till three in the morning working to get things done for everyone’s enjoyment,” he said.

In light of his recent unemployment and longtime freelance work, DeSantiago described his work with Riot Fest as “a huge deal” that he’s thankful for — especially for a hardworking freelance artist who’s been “trying to scrape up new clients.”

He kept the festival’s classic carnival theme but wanted to take it in “a different direction,” he said.

“On my end, I wanted to stay with that theme but advance it and try to make it a bit more attention-grabbing," he said. Making the poster "easier to read was a big part of it for me, and just trying to do something a little bit different than the other festivals.”

DeSantiago said he has high hopes for his career.

“Sometimes you just gotta jump out of the airplane and figure out where to land,” he said. “My ultimate goal would be to work for myself; that’s really what I want to do. I’m lucky enough that I got one big fish with Riot Fest.”

Riot Fest runs Sept. 12-14.

“I'll definitely be there,” he said. “I’m excited to see Weezer play the Blue album."

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