Show us your . . . studio | Show us your [____] | Chicago Reader

Show us your . . . studio 

Each week we ask you to show us something. This week it's illustrator and toy maker Travis Lampe's studio

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The kind of work that inspired Travis Lampe to become an illustrator is characterized by what he calls a "cute weirdness," a quality he first noticed in a magazine illustration by Camille Rose Garcia. Lampe was working at an ad agency in Warsaw at the time, but he says Rose Garcia's work was an epiphany. Lampe now lives in the Chicago area, where he chases that cute weirdness with art that features bizarro characters who frown and grimace.

He also makes toys, including a line of emotive tear-shaped creatures called Tear Drips. He's produced plushes—stuffed toys—and contributed to the Kidrobot Dunny series of action figures. Toys, Lampe says, take a while—"ten times longer than you would think. I have toys that I started probably six to eight months ago and I have no idea when they're going to be done." The process involves a lot of back and forth with the toy's modelers, with Lampe overseeing each step of the creation.

click to enlarge ANDREA BAUER

Lampe, whose studio is in his house in La Grange, says that he runs his toys by his kids, who give him feedback. "They're typically confused by them, but they like them," he says. "They always ask me, why are they so sad? And I love that—I love that they're slightly confused by my toys, because that means it's working."

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