Rex Parker is an American artist, designer and illustrator. He and his three younger siblings were born and raised in the small farming town of Moweaqua, Illinois. As a youth, Parker earned the rank of Eagle Scout and lettered in basketball, but in his free time, he was always drawing. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, but his affection for classic Americana was not forgotten. Instead, it infuses his urbane style with warmth, for a result that is hip but not hard-edged.
In 1986, Parker established an award-winning design firm in Hinsdale, Illinois, later moving to Printers Row in Chicago before settling in Park Ridge, Illinois with his young family. Over the next 30 years, Rex helped Fortune 500 companies and other organizations increase brand awareness, expand market share and build product loyalty. Major clients have included Volvo Tennis Chicago, United Airlines, Whirlpool, Hyatt, T-Mobile, the John Deere Classic PGA Tournament and others.
Looking for art in unexpected places came naturally to Parker, and his new hometown was no exception. He began researching Park Ridge and learned that, from the late 1800s through the Depression, this commuter suburb had held world-class art colony status. By the 1990s, little but the landmark Pickwick Theater, an Art Deco masterpiece, stood in evidence of the town’s artful past. Parker’s passion was reinforced when other history-loving Park Ridge residents saved the historic Ianelli Studios and resurrected the equally renowned Kalo Silversmiths history.
Elected to the City Council, Parker chaired the first Park Ridge Art Commission and personally discovered some of its now-popular outdoor sculptures, starting with The Storyteller in the garden of the Park Ridge Public Library. While busy with his corporate clients, Parker made time to create his uniquely colorful, Art Deco-inspired collectible posters for many local service organizations and institutions. His works included posters for citywide street fairs, outdoor concerts, local charity drives and more. He was hired to create the graphically bold “Games On!” poster series for Chicago’s Olympic bid and high-visibility themed posters for the Park Ridge Civic Orchestra’s concert series. Ranging back to his country roots, he revisited the era of drive-ins and road trips with his iconic “Route 66 Rocks” poster series.
Parker continued to revive the history of the Park Ridge Art Colony with his poster series celebrating Clara Barck Welles, Kalo, Grant Wood, Alfonso Iannelli, The Village Press, John Alden Carpenter and Frederick Goudy. One of his own favorite series centers on the Park Ridge building that first caught his artist’s eye. “Legends of the Pickwick Theatre” posters — herald movies, locally raised celebrity actors and other creatives that enriched the history of Park Ridge; a series some have called a modern Art Deco masterpiece. Parker simply calls it doing good works.