Surprising Business Cards of Chicago Gangs

For his book Thee Almighty & Insane, Brandon Johnson look into the street gangs of Chicago in the 1970s and the 1980s. After finding the business card of one of the gangs by accident, he eventually discovered a whole subculture with its rules, its values and its visual universe. At that time, the gangs used the cards to claim territories, recruit new members and tease the rival crews. More than just business cards, these one are tokens of a time period and tell the story of Chicago’s streets through established codes.

Besides the explicit insults, upside-down initials are symbols of provocation and a « K », for killer, indicates the victim of a murder. Au the middle of the power struggles, these cards reveal an unexpected creativity in a environment full of violence. In a world of appearances, the Chicago gangs also fought through eccentric typographies, catchy slogans and incisive logos. This practice disappeared with the 1980s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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