Cody Hudson Turns Bar Into a Graphic Zine

Click here to view photos from the premiere of Cody Hudson's designs at Bar.

Call it a gimmick if you want, but really, it's genius -- dare we say, revolutionary -- what Bar is doing. The hipster drinking establishment rotates their look every two months, basically assuring that patrons will be introduced to a brand-new space before they get too comfortable. Just when Mike Del Marmol's graphic posters were starting to peel back a bit, the staff and Chicago artist Cody Hudson transformed the space as soon as the doors were locked this past Sunday morning.

Last night, Bar still reeked of paint fumes, but that's the sort of the punishment you endure when you want to claim "FIRST!" in taking a glance at the new look.

The new look is the darkest incarnation of Bar to date. Hudson says he adapted his work for the space, because it's still a bar after all. The two-day transformation meant Hudson and the Bar crew had to be realistic about what could be accomplished in such a short amount of time.

General manager Raul Sanchez admits that keeping Bar closed for an extended amount of time isn't feasible when you have things like rent and employees to pay. "It's the most work we've ever done," Sanchez says about Hudson's design, and it's easy to spot why. Stylistically, it's perhaps the most simple look to date, but Hudson had to painstakingly trace and outline everything by hand. (Previous designs were aided by the use of wallpaper.) You've got to admire that all this handiwork was done in less than 48 hours.

Hudson's design is heavy on typography and symbolism. Words like "Death Spiral," "The Future," "Fools Paradise," "Golden Teardrops," and "Peace, Pot, Microdots" hit you from all sides. The look is a bit reminiscent of the fictional Korova Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange. And Hudson says his designs were partly inspired by phrases common in the '60s as well as the aesthetic of graphic zines.

He also seems to be self-aware that his designs are in, well, a bar. The phrases "Death Spiral" and "Fools Paradise," which flank the bar's sides, seem to address what barflies come looking for. Hudson's painted words are somewhat bleak, but that sort of ties into the entire design. A happy space it probably isn't, but it definitely doesn't fail to amuse us.

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