The Spotlight

Introducing Chicago Printworks!

Kyle Irwin

A Quick Story of Chicago Printworks

Hello from your friends at Chicago Printworks (the guys from Direction Tour Marketing)! We miss all of you, and our hearts are with all of those who have been struggling this past year. Believe it or not, this was our first pandemic so we weren’t exactly prepared.

While we watched as the shutdown took hold on the country, we witnessed the performing arts industry go dark. Our ears heard the newly coined term “social distancing” but our brains heard “no live shows”. Our ears heard “essential workers” and our hearts sank knowing that meant our city had to cancel all live events. 

Our ears heard “we’re in this together” but we couldn’t help but feel alone. 

Like a toddler protesting bedtime, we reluctantly closed up shop in 2020 with the rest of Chicago. But while Direction Tour Marketing was forced to hibernate, it gave us plenty of free time to find creative ways to amuse ourselves, learn how to live with our families 24/7, and come up with out-of-the-box ideas we would normally not have time for prior to Covid-19. 

Today, with recent numbers looking especially promising, our hopes have never been higher for dry land on the horizon. We just need to float on a bit longer before we’re all finding our beach and popping the cap off of a bottle of Corona. 

What We Were up to Outside of the Office


The Pandemic and subsequent closures took Micah on a rollercoaster of exuberant highs and painful lows. Hours, days and weeks were spent navigating the intricacies of government relief, negotiating with vendors for extensions, and calculating an ever changing life support budget. Aside, from finishing more Sci-Fi books than he cares to admit, Micah found relief by dragging his family camping across the country.

Micah's SUV pulling a camper
Micah's kids in front of Mt Rushmore

The fresh air and open space after a winter locked indoors provided a welcome revitalization. Refreshed and energized, Micah took to YouTube to learn bike mechanics, hydroponic farming, SEO, carpentry, and how to perfectly detail a car. Micah looks forward to the return of client friendships, live artistic interpretations of our shared experience, and losing the damned Covid-19 weight that’s chasing so many of us.


Ryan has been passing the time in his Edgewater apartment playing guitar, trying to get the perfect steak sear, and being a cat dad to his illegally cute furball, Milhouse. During the night hours, he could be found wandering the sidewalks of Andersonville and Rogers Park, imbibing in his podcast addiction. Another highlight of his was taking a day trip to Michigan for a seven-hour tattoo session with Chris Hornus, then immediately driving back to Chicago. The tattoo turned out wonderfully, but he wouldn’t recommend the long drive after that long at the business end of a tattoo gun. After a year of many changes for him, he’s looking forward to new beginnings, starting with a move to North Center in June. 

3 combine photos of steak, a cat and Ryan, and Ryan's new tattoo work


Kyle, his partner, and their dog moved to a more spacious apartment right as the shutdown took place. Somehow forgetting the discomfort of moving while wearing a mask, they are set to move again this month. During the shutdown, Kyle attempted (and failed) to make a guitar pedal from scratch, learned how to cut his own hair in less than three days, and practiced Photoshop by inserting his dog into fun places. He also learned how to bake a mean french loaf. 

A dog superimposed over Chicago skyline

After a short while, restlessness took hold and we found that we needed something constructive to work on while the world waited to reset. Our first initiative was to figure out a way to give back to the performing arts communities in Chicago. We established a non profit organization called Support Chicago Arts with the goal of using our industry connections to create fundraising opportunities for those hardest hit by the pandemic. We’re proud to say we’ve donated over $3000.00 through online sales of SCA products!

Despite our interest in soldiering on behalf of the arts, the shutdown persisted and we had to figure out a way to keep our business afloat. With live entertainment being shut down, we knew we had to pivot somehow. While we flirted with learning how to become urban hops and mushroom growers, we eventually decided to stick with what we know: printing. 

We got straight to work with re-branding Direction’s print department, learning how to retrofit our word-of-mouth operation into one that lives on the world wide web. After months of teaching ourselves how to build a website, writing thousands of words of copy, creating web images and product examples, and unravelling the mystery of SEO, we are pleased to introduce ourselves as Chicago Printworks! We hope to continue to be your number one destination for all of your printing needs.

And as always, we thank you for your amazing support over the years, and look forward to all of your future projects! Now, who has a bottle opener?