Growing up in a small Wisconsin town where everyone knew each other’s story, Phil Schultz finds true enjoyment in everyone he meets becoming more than simply a customer, but a friend. He recalls walking into stores with his parents as a child and feeling welcomed and listened to, making every excursion into town something to talk about over dinner. He carries a lot of those sentiments and customer service methods into his business practices today, providing a welcoming presence and an open ear to all who enter his shop.
While there are plenty of sign shops in the city of Chicago, there are no people quite like Phil.
Phil opened his first and only storefront in 2005 on Western Avenue. After 12 year in that location, he found it hard to truly connect to the community around him, feeling the constant nervous anticipation that at any point, he would get taken away from a project at hand to work on a new, urgent task. He decided to move to an artist community and his work began truly flourishing. He has maintained and grown his relationships from his former storefront greater in his time in the workshop, as he now has the clarity and creativity that a classic storefront simply could not provide.
The people in the community serve as both great resources and community for Phil. He has learned new techniques and gained both professional and personal relationships with those around him. The care, creativity, and consideration that goes into his work has been honed over the last 21 years. While store locations, methods, and life as a whole has changed for Phil since his humble beginnings, he has grown and thrived throughout life’s changes and truly mastered his craft.
With immense bodies of knowledge, life lessons, community and family supporting Phil, Chicago Sign Systems has grown into a successful and thriving business and staple in the Chicago art scene.
Owner and Artist
Originally from Pardeeville, Wisconsin, Phil has loved creating art for as long as he can remember. When he was a child, he would sit through church and class doodling and day dreaming. In college, he found himself growing distracted with classic arts like oil painting, but took a liking to the quick processes in design and typography. When he moved to Chicago, he was selling furniture and began helping out in the in-house sign shop the store had, which would announce promotions and sales. From there, he’s built a career in making art. He worked in the sign shop for 6 years before opening his own storefront in 2005. He has made thousands of works of art, graphics, vinyl cut outs, and signs in the time since. He enjoys creative types and learning from all the knowledge they have to bring to the table. Phil’s store and workshop are located in an artist community located at 4200 W. Diversey. There is no job too small or odd for Phil.
Commercial Arts, 1996
Activities & Affiliations
• Letterheads, Member
• Wall Dog, Mural Painting Member
Mary Catherine Nedbalski
From Cleveland, Ohio, Mary Catherine started her journey in Chicago at DePaul University. After graduating with her degree in Political Science and Public Policy with a concentration in Urban Planning, she worked in construction for 4 years doing project coordination. Wanting to go back to school for her masters, she now attends college and spends her free time helping small businesses consolidate their operation systems, marketing strategies, and accounting abilities. She currently resides in Lakeview, Chicago with her pet fish Disco.
MFA, Expected 2021
Activities & Affiliations
•Chi-Town Dawg Pound - VP of Fan Experience
• Cosmetologist - Certified