May 16, 2022

Charlie Doodle

Unique Art & Entertainment

Chicago artist with Rockford roots enjoying his own revival

6 min read

ROCKFORD — Ask a kindergartener to draw a picture of a person and you are likely to get a drawing of a stickman.

Not so with former Rockford resident Ryan Lape.

“He would sit and draw football players being tackled and it would be in such detail,” said Lape’s mother, Kim. “It was just amazing, and he was only 5 or 6 years old.”

Classmates at Whitehead Elementary School could be considered Lape’s first clients.

“I would draw pictures for snacks,” Lape said. “I would draw pictures of like the Lion King, and they would give me candy.”

These days, Lape, 38, of Chicago, is a celebrated Forest City and Windy City artist.

He’s the first to admit his path to success — from sketches in the school cafeteria to big-time commissions for public art — was littered with pitfalls, mostly of his own doing.

John Groh, left, president and CEO of Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, takes a picture of mural artist Ryan Lape, second from left, and Lape's mural subjects Angel Martinez and Sara Dorner on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, at Jumping Joe, 601 W. State St., in Rockford.

A code of ethics

Coloring within the lines was never a problem for the wannabe artist, living within the boundaries of the law was.

Lape said he picked up the art of street graffiti from fellow skateboarders.

“I said to myself, ‘That’s what I’m going to do, and the whole world is going to know me.'”

Lape, who signs his work under his tag name of “Stuk One,” learned early on there was an unwritten code of ethics when it came to where and what to paint.

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