Story and photos by Victoria G. Molinar
They’re cuddly, they’re quirky and they’re the result of two high school sweethearts who decided that full-time art is the route for them. Inspired by cartoons, monsters and comic book favorites, the plush creatures that Michelle Delgado and Ray Peregrino make have gained much popularity at local conventions and art markets.
When they found themselves in a rut several years ago (Peregrino was laid off from his job at a car rental business while Delgado struggled finding work with her bachelor’s degree in history), they both decided it was time to throw caution to the wind and make an income out of pure creativity and hard work.
Thus Lula-Squid (named after their cat, Squid, and the Portuguese word for squid, “lula”) was born.
We had a chance to sit down with the creative couple and chat about monsters, El Paso’s growing art scene and the future of their business.
RP: In November of 2008. Michelle made this plush pillow of an owl for her little cousin out of nowhere. I didn’t even know she could make it. I saw it and thought man this is amazing. So I drew these little monsters and asked her, ‘Can you make this into a stuffed animal?’ And she did and I was just amazed with them. I encouraged her to make her own designs and she did. She taught me how to sew.
From there, I was like, that’s it! Let’s make and sell these and just see how this works. We would go on the road with Rapheene and sell all of the stuff we were making and we used that for gas. We were selling so much of it that I was making more than I did with my job.
MD: When we first started, there weren’t a whole lot of art shows going on, especially for what we did. There were a lot of fine art shows and galleries, but we really didn’t have a place where we could fit in. We got one art show at The Percolator, then we kept getting more and more shows. These past two or three years, there’s just been a boom in the art scene and it’s very accepting of what we do.
How do you come up with the creatures you create?
RP: We’ll just start sketching stuff out. We have a lot of really crappy sketches. (Laughs)
MD:(Laughing) Sometimes we have a really neat idea and on paper and it looks cool, but trying to get it to the 3-D realm doesn’t work.
When we first started, it was more focused on abstract originals. The monsters didn’t have to resemble anything. Then we wanted to try a new line of work, so we started doing mini figures based on popular characters, like a mummy, a ninja, a zombie, a yeti and Bigfoot.
We started doing conventions and decided to do our version of popular characters like Batman, Wolverine, Nightcrawler. And now we’re pushing it more. We take a regular object and put a monster plush twist on it, like our crazy furry-headed cupcake.
To read the entire interview, pick up a copy of The Art Avenue at The El Paso Museum of Art store.