Meet the artist behind the KC Streetcar poster

Posted at 6:43 AM, May 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-30 10:59:35-04

The signs are everywhere, plastered up all over downtown Kansas City, inviting people to come ride the streetcar. The poster, now seen by thousands, is the brainchild of a Kansas City native.

The launch of the new KC Streetcar also meant the launch of Madison Crabtree's career.

"It's my first big break as a student," Crabtree said. "I've never really had my work out there."

At every stop along the streetcar's two-mile route, you'll see her commemorative poster signifying its grand opening.

"It's kind of surreal actually," Crabtree laughs.

Her illustration class at the Kansas City Art Institute partnered with the Streetcar Authority to create the marquee.  They chose Crabtree's design from six entries in January.

KC Streetcar poster

"It was kind of the first idea I came up with," she said. 

It combines the history of Kansas City with a modern twist.

"I love signs like the Western Auto sign and the Main Street sign and the Alamo Draft House. Just things that people would know Kansas City for," she describes, as she shows the first sketch she made.

What started as several different sketches transformed into a digital collage on Photoshop. She drew the buildings with graphite and the streetcar in ink. The whole thing is laid out in layers. The buildings surround the streetcar, as it travels down a path in the center of the page.

"I just love the composition and how everything is converging on the streetcar," Crabtree said.

The Streetcar Authority sells the posters for $10 at its headquarters at Singleton Yard, located at 600 E. 3rd Street. Her limited edition letterpress version is available at Made in Kansas City stores and HMK on the Plaza for $40.

And, she gets to keep some of the profits. The posters she sells herself are pure profit, but her deal with the Streetcar Authority lets her keep 10 percent.

"I'm really excited to be a part of this historic moment in Kansas City history, because I'm a native of Kansas City myself," Crabtree said. "I'm hopeful for a promising career."

To see more of Madison's work, click here.


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