James Wojtal is a talented puppet designer and builder. During his career he has worked on projects like Avenue Q, Bear in the Big Blue House, Crank Yankers, Saturday Night Live, Sesame Street (the American and various internationl versions), Mop-a-Top's Shop, Kermit's Swamp Years, Animal Jam, and more. In this interview I asked him to share his thoughts about puppet building.
SJ: While working on the popular Broadway musical Avenue Q, you built some celebrity and television personality puppets. Is making a puppet of well know person different than making chickens or pigs?
JW: I don't think so in terms of process. I think the challenge is trying to find the features that really make that person. On top of that, you are walking a thin line trying not to offend the person you are building a puppet of while still making the general public look at the puppet and go, "yeah that's so an so, they even got his funny lip right", or "look the ears they are perfect". It's interesting to see what it is people notice about a celebrity. Since I was working from Rick Lyon's designs and not my own, I also have to stay within those guidelines. Everyone has a signature style that they like to use so that was just as important to that build.