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Kate Citrin, Northcenter Designer

By Stephanie Sack | Monday, October 3, 2011

Kate Citrin. Credit: Stephanie Sack

Originally from St. Louis, Kate Citrin has comfortably settled into Chicago’s Northcenter neighborhood as both a resident and professional. Her graphic design business, katecitrin.com, represents a range of clients who appreciate her talented eye and urbane sensibilities for design and branding.

Working from home, Kate offers a unique insight on the neighborhood as a place to literally work and play. When she is not enjoying Northcenter’s notable amenities, Kate is often found taking Bikram Yoga classes, and recently completed 365 Bikram Yoga classes in 365 days, while also training for and participating in the 2011 Illinois Yoga Asana Competition. In her limited free time, she also authors and illustrates a blog about her experiences as a yogi called Yoga Badassery.

St. Louis’ loss in definitely Northcenter’s gain when it comes to this accomplished and interesting gal.

1. You are a Northcenter resident, although not a native to Chicago. What drew you to the city and, more specifically, the neighborhood?

In college, my professors told me I had to live in either New York or Chicago in order to make it as an artist/designer. The choice was easy; both cities have a vibrant art community, big name ad agencies, farmer’s markets and public transit, but Chicago also has usable beaches, midwestern personality and affordable living.

After sampling a few neighborhoods I chose Northcenter for a few reasons. It has everything I could ever need within walking distance. For me, this is mainly about food. Good gravy! Thai, sustainably focused, sushi, Indian, Italian, Greek, Mediterranean…everything from black tie to flip-flop appropriate! Point two is that it is incredibly friendly.

Like a small town, I can’t get to the mailbox without running into people I know. And the best part, the area is very locally focused and environmentally aware. Because of our great community organization we have events like indie documentary screenings, ethically-focused restaurants, two farmer’s markets within walking distance of my door, and lots of “mom and pop” style shops and art galleries.

2. Like many graphic designers, you work primarily from home. Do you find the neighborhood to be welcoming to businesspeople such as yourself?

I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t. This community has a lot of great features for people who work at home. There is a working professionals building for client meetings or out-of-home office space and a plethora of quiet coffee shops for days you just can’t focus at home. To recharge myself, I take walks in one of the many parks available. Watching the old men play bocce in Wells Park or the family picnics in California Park always gets me back on track. I’m not going to deny that a latte from Red Eye’s doesn’t hurt either.

3. As a graphic designer and visual artist, what is your opinion of the area’s curb appeal?

I am in love with all the flowers and outdoor spaces we have. Every business makes an effort to beautify their space. When my mom came up to visit from St. Louis she couldn’t stop commenting on it. It fit very well with her memories of European cafes. She tried re-creating it at home and ended up disappointed, sitting with a cappuccino in the Panera Bread outdoor seating, overlooking a parking lot. It’s great leverage to get her to visit more often.

4. There are a slew of great bars and restaurants on your strip! What are your favorite joints to grab a bite and enjoy a beverage?

No joke! Whenever I am asked what my favorite spots are in the city I strain myself trying to think of anything outside of my area. My favorites here though? Easy. Right now, my favorite spot is Marmalade, 1969 W. Montrose Ave. Before Marmalade, it had been near to impossible to find a brunch place fresh and exotic enough for me but hearty enough for my partner (he’s one of those “meat and potatoes” kind of guys). I love the vegan chilaquilles and on the other end of the spectrum, Jeff enjoys a marinated pulled pork benedict with potatoes. Pro Tip: get a salad instead of potatoes with your breakfast. It’s not one of those skimpy salads and you will get more than enough good stuff without filling up on potatoes.

5. What advice and insight would you give to someone considering moving to Northcenter?

Take advantage of all the community events in the area. Most businesses post signs up in their windows but you can also find news on the chamber website and newsletters. There are events and festivals for every interest. Beer making, cooking, art, theater, concerts and storytelling. Get out and dabble a bit!

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