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What Do You Mean By Animation Studios in Illinois

What Do You Mean By Animation Studios in Illinois


Illinois, a state renowned for its architectural marvels and vibrant cultural scene, has also carved out a niche in the animation industry. Home to several animation studios, Illinois boasts a thriving community of creatives who push the boundaries of visual storytelling. This article delves into the world of animation studios in Illinois, highlighting their history, notable achievements, and contributions to the industry.

A Brief History of Animation in Illinois

Illinois has a rich history of artistic endeavors, and its foray into animation is no exception. The state’s journey into animation began in the early 20th century, with Chicago emerging as a hub for animated films. Pioneers like Walt Disney, who was born in Chicago, laid the groundwork for what would become a flourishing industry.

In the mid-20th century, animation in Illinois saw significant growth with the establishment of various studios that produced commercials, short films, and television content. These studios brought together talented artists and animators, fostering a creative environment that continues to thrive today.

Notable Animation Studios in Illinois

Calabash Animation

Calabash Animation, founded in 1985, is one of the most renowned animation studios in Illinois. Located in Chicago, Calabash has made a name for itself with its high-quality animation and dedication to storytelling. The studio has worked on numerous commercials for major brands, such as Lucky Charms and Trix, bringing beloved characters to life with a unique flair.

Calabash’s expertise extends beyond commercials; they have also created content for television, film, and digital platforms. The studio’s commitment to innovation and excellence has earned it numerous awards, cementing its place as a leader in the animation industry.

Starburns Industries

Starburns Industries, co-founded by Dan Harmon, Dino Stamatopoulos, Joe Russo II, and James Fino, is another key player in Illinois’s animation scene. While their main office is in Los Angeles, they maintain a significant presence in Illinois, particularly through their partnership with the Illinois Institute of Art.

Starburns Industries is best known for its work on the acclaimed stop-motion animated series “Anomalisa,” which received an Academy Award nomination. The studio’s ability to blend traditional animation techniques with modern storytelling has garnered it a loyal following and critical acclaim.

Daily Planet Productions

Daily Planet Productions, located in Evanston, Illinois, is a versatile animation studio specializing in both 2D and 3D animation. Founded in 1978, the studio has a long history of producing high-quality content for commercials, educational videos, and corporate projects.

Daily Planet Productions prides itself on its collaborative approach, working closely with clients to bring their visions to life. The studio’s talented team of animators, designers, and storytellers ensures that each project is executed with precision and creativity.


LooseKeys, a boutique animation studio based in Chicago, is known for its playful and engaging animation style. The studio focuses on creating explainer videos, commercials, and digital content that captivate audiences and convey complex ideas simply and effectively.

Founded by Brad Chmielewski, LooseKeys has built a reputation for its ability to turn concepts into visually compelling stories. The studio’s work has been featured on platforms like TechCrunch and Mashable, showcasing its impact in the digital sphere.

The Impact of Animation Studios on Illinois’s Creative Economy

Animation studios in Illinois play a crucial role in the state’s creative economy. By providing employment opportunities for artists, animators, writers, and other creatives, these studios contribute to the local economy and foster a vibrant artistic community. The presence of established studios also attracts new talent to the state, further enriching its cultural landscape.

Moreover, the work produced by Illinois-based animation studios reaches a global audience, enhancing the state’s reputation as a center for creative excellence. Whether through commercials, films, or digital content, these studios showcase the innovative spirit and artistic prowess of Illinois’s creative professionals.

The Role of Education and Training

The success of animation studios in Illinois is closely tied to the state’s educational institutions. Schools like Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, and the Illinois Institute of Art offer specialized programs in animation and digital media, preparing the next generation of animators and visual storytellers.

These institutions provide students with the technical skills and creative knowledge needed to succeed in the competitive field of animation. Through hands-on training, industry partnerships, and mentorship opportunities, they ensure that graduates are well-equipped to contribute to the growth and success of Illinois’s animation industry.

Challenges and Opportunities

While the animation industry in Illinois is thriving, it faces several challenges. The competitive nature of the industry means that studios must constantly innovate to stay relevant. Additionally, securing funding and resources for large-scale projects can be difficult, especially for smaller studios.

However, these challenges also present opportunities for growth and collaboration. Illinois’s animation community is known for its resilience and creativity, finding innovative solutions to overcome obstacles. The rise of digital platforms and streaming services has also opened up new avenues for content distribution, allowing studios to reach wider audiences and explore diverse storytelling formats.

The Future of Animation in Illinois

The future of animation in Illinois looks promising, with continued advancements in technology and storytelling techniques. Studios are increasingly embracing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to create immersive experiences that push the boundaries of traditional animation.

Collaboration between animation studios and other sectors, such as gaming and advertising, is also expected to grow, leading to exciting cross-disciplinary projects. Furthermore, the emphasis on diversity and inclusion within the industry will ensure that a broader range of voices and perspectives are represented in animated content.


Illinois’s animation studios are a testament to the state’s rich artistic heritage and innovative spirit. From established names like Calabash Animation and Starburns Industries to emerging players like LooseKeys, these studios are at the forefront of visual storytelling, creating content that resonates with audiences worldwide.

As the industry continues to evolve, Illinois remains a vibrant hub for animation, driven by a community of talented and dedicated professionals. With a strong foundation and a bright future ahead, the animation studios in Illinois will undoubtedly continue to make significant contributions to the art and industry of animation.

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