With another big snowstorm heading our way this evening—possibly up to a foot of snow through Friday—this weekend you’re likely to see some shoveled-out streetside parking spaces strewn with household debris. It’s not set out there for Streets & San pickup, no matter how garbagey it might look. It’s the divisive Chicago tradition known as “dibs”: Practitioners will tell you the person who does the work of clearing the spot has the right to reserve it for their later parking use, using whatever placeholders they can find. Those who ignore the unwritten rules risk retaliation: Anecdotal reports over the years have had violating vehicles getting keyed, having windows smashed in or tires slashed.
“People love it or they hate it, but it’s so Chicago,” says Paul Hirsch, executive creative director at Havas Chicago, an advertising and branding agency. A Chicago native, Hirsch came up with the concept for Havas’s latest side project, “This Is Dibs”: The agency asked around 20 artists to put their own stamp on a dibs-style folding chair; the results are being auctioned on eBay, with all proceeds going to Lincoln Park Community Shelter’s programs for Chicago’s homeless population.
“It was great reaching out to Chicago artists; we really tried to stay Chicago, but there's a few outliers that we’re huge fans of,” Hirsch says, noting that many of the artists are either folks Havas has worked with before or friends of the agency’s employees. “The people who were available were like, ‘Hell yeah.’”
The artists represented include the likes of muralist JC Rivera, whose “bear champ” character graces his chair; Lauren Asta, whose doodly work can also be seen on the walls at the new Emporium Fulton Market; and Matthew Hoffman, of “You Are Beautiful” fame. “The rules were, there are no rules. Do whatever you want to it: crush it, write on it, destroy it,” says Hirsch.
The chairs are on display in a lobby installation at Havas’s Chicago HQ at 36 East Grand Avenue through Thursday, February 15, the day the last of the eBay auctions end. Click through to bid on each of the chairs from the project website. There are also two limited-edition designs created by Havas staff for sale at a set price of $30; they’re currently sold out, but Hirsch says more will be put up for sale soon. (Just please don’t actually use any of these for dibs—they’ll get stolen so fast.) Check out a few of our favorite designs below.