Cape Horn Illustration

Cape Horn Illustration Chicago Maps and Illustrations

We illustrate what we love. We illustrate what you love. All of our work begins by hand, with pen and ink on heavyweight drawing paper. We aim for a classic, etched look because it exposes the labor of the work, each line and hatch-mark, behind a given piece. We are all about the details.

Cape Horn Illustration was started by Phil Thompson and Katie Lauffenburger. Our origin story: We grew up in separate corners of Pennsylvania, came to Chicago for school, then met and found a mutual love of art and architecture, history, and other curiosities. Eventually we got married and settled into our current home/studio along the Ravenswood industrial corridor in Chicago

Why We’re Called Cape Horn Illustration

Cape Horn signifies exploration, navigation and human achievement, the intersection of the Atlantic and Pacific currents, a rich history of narrow escapes and shipwrecks.

In the history of nautical travel, the cape of South America presented one of the most dangerous challenges to sailors traveling around South America. The unimpeded passage of wind over the Pacific ocean from west to east gives rise to 100-foot waves; the low longitude of the region produces bitterly cold winds and icebergs; and the lands, the islands of Tierra del Fuego, offer only rocky shores.

Before the Panama Canal opened in 1914, rounding Cape Horn was a rite of passage for career sailors. In fact, it is reputed that sailors were only entitled to wear a gold earring on the left ear once they had successfully passed around the horn–the left ear being the one facing the Cape on the eastward passage.

Cape Horn was named in the 1600s after Hoorn, a Dutch trading town. “Horn” is the anglicized and geographically well-suited name.