Saturday, September 27, 2008

Muppet designer Bonnie Erickson on puppet storytelling and inspiration

Good article. Whenever I get ready to pre-plan for animation, I will always get in front of a video camera, even if it is just my webcam, and act out several versions of whatever action or acting I'm going for. That instant feedback is important to me, and that is what I find appealing about puppetry.

Bonnie Erickson designed and built the inimitable Miss Piggy in 1974 for an early "Muppets" television special, produced by Jim Henson. Puppets, props and storyboards from Henson's prolific career are featured in the traveling exhibit "Jim Henson's Fantastic World." Anika Gupta spoke with Erickson.

You've been designing muppets and mascots for years. What attracts you to them?
The creation of worlds—the whole process of designing characters, putting together a back story, giving the characters an environment in which they can thrive and casting performers who can bring them to life.

Why do puppets appeal to adults as well as children?
They've been a tradition across the world for thousands of years as a form of storytelling. But, until recently, they have't been appreciated in the United States. Now, however, puppetry is finding a niche in the arts—dance, theater and even opera. I think people appreciate the performers' skill as well as the artistry of the puppets themselves. We owe a lot of that to [Muppets creator] Jim Henson's vision.

(full article )

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