Creativity in Chicago: Dan Cosgrove Featured in Graphis Journal #373

Chicago-based illustrator Dan Cosgrove’s Art Deco-inspired illustrations bring the world to your doorstep. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Dan is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, where he majored in graphic design. After a short stint with the National Park Service in Denver, and then as a designer for Cato Johnson in Cincinnati, Dan moved to Chicago to embark on a career in illustration. Since then, Dan has produced work for numerous posters, packages, logos, covers, and advertising campaigns, and has even done stamps for the U.S. Postal Service. Dan lives with his wife, Lisa, in a small town that is just a short train trip from his studio in the historic Fine Arts Building on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.

Dan Cosgrove’s work delights and inspires, conjuring landscapes so vivid, it feels like you could walk right through the paper into another world. Whether he’s putting together advertising campaigns or designing official US postage stamps, Cosgrove’s tangible energy and passion characterize every color and line. Viewers will want to visit each and every location from his illustrations just so they can see the world through Cosgrove’s eyes. As fellow illustrator Nigel Buchanan says, “With his glorious use of rich, subtle color, he creates iconic images of impossibly idyllic places. He can conjure a sense of time and place where you can feel the crisp, cool breeze and warm afternoon sun.”

Here’s a snippet of Dan Cosgrove’s Q&A:

What’s it like having your own studio?

I’ve always had an office in my house and another in downtown Chicago. Over the years, I have been fortunate to share the office space with other illustrators, including most recently illustrator Mike Dammer. My office is in the historic Fine Arts Building overlooking South Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan. The building has been home to artists, musicians, and instrument makers for over 100 years. Some of the more famous people to have had offices there are L. Frank Baum, the Leyendecker brothers, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

What would be your dream assignment?

I really enjoyed working on the USS Missouri Forever stamp. For me, that was a dream assignment and a fun challenge. They wanted to depict the ship at the time of its commission in 1944 with the disruptive camouflage. I worked with art director Greg Breeding and after a couple of pencils, we decided that the front view of the ship was going to work the best at stamp size. The only photos of the front of the ship we had were as it sits today in Pearl Harbor. It’s amazing how much the ship changed over the years until its last action in Desert Storm. It was fun to look at the archival photos and redraw the ship to the correct time period and be as accurate as we could. We worked with an admiral who authenticated things.

Who have been some of your favorite people or clients you have worked with?

One of my favorite clients is Lee Sentell, who is the director of the Alabama Tourism Department. I’ve only spoken with him personally a handful of times, but I have done many projects for him through his associates. I’ve done posters, logos, and even license plates. He has also commissioned me to do images for the Alabama Civil Rights Trail which is work I’m very proud of.

To read more of Dan Cosgrove’s interview and discover other great artists, check out Graphis Journal #373, which you can purchase online at

Author: Graphis