Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's about character (pun intended)

I fell in love with puppet theatre when I was a kid, and the fascination about it has never stopped entrancing me. There is something magical about the transference that occurs from puppeteer to puppet and vice versa, as the puppet character takes not only a life of it's own but starts controlling the life of the puppeteer!

As Ricky Syers, creator of Stix says in this video "I'm not really sure where Stix is going...but I am willing to go along for the ride".  This experience holds true for all of us who work in this or other forms of storytelling. We see our characters take a life of their own and have to be very careful not to intervene but simply clear the way to let them express themselves.

Like Gustave Baumann, a maker of marionettes and creator of The Puppet Wranglers said in his comment about the work of master Bill Dwiggins; "These animated pieces of wood, properly jointed, take on a life of their own, move about in ways you never dreamed of, and rewrite your script without bothering to ask permission."

William Addison Dwiggins (1880-1956) by the way, was a type designer (characters, get it?), calligrapher, typographer, illustrator and writer, one of the foremost contributors to the printing arts, but my admiration for him comes from the world he created through his Experimental Theatre, where some truly extraordinary characters came to life, in a meticulous carved environment where every element of design, wether visible to the audience or not, was made with the exacting precision of his great font designs, widely used in the book publishing industry, and carried today in digital form by Linotype.

Dwiggins is also credited with coining the term 'graphic designer' in 1922*

*Livingston, Alan and Isabella., 'Dictionary of graphic design and designers'. London: Thames and Hudson, 1992