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: What advice would you give to young people interested in making a career out of puppet building?
JW: Well, I don't know. I suppose I could say "NO, Don't do It!!!" because it's not easy, and the world is always changing, as is the Entertainment industry. I would say it's important to have other skills to fall back on.
Many puppet builders I know also work in theater. Some are Actors, some are Puppeteers, and some design fashion accessories. Others are illustrators, or are working in production in different capacities. The likelihood that you will get a full time job working for one person is unlikely. It is for the most part piecemeal work. I freelance, and I look for gigs on my own, as well as work with different companies, but none of them are steady jobs. You will not be getting a health or dental plan as a freelance artist unless you pay for it yourself. So it's really a matter of how hard you want to work, and where do you want to be when you get old (something I am not even sure of yet).
So I guess I'm saying, it pays to be prepared.