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Puppety Opinion Please

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Puppetplanet, Aug 23, 2003.

  1. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    I think that's it exactly. I was at a seminar this week where someone commented that if you want to find a mentor or get advice from someone you have to be respectful and not be a "time sucker" or expect them to do all of your work work for you.
  2. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    Well, I have to think back because this thread is over a year and a half old, but more than likely I put "professional" in quotation marks because just as you say it's highly subjective.

    Buying a puppet is like buying a car. Of course a puppet that costs $100 probably won't be quite as nice as one that costs $5,000. That's pretty indisputable (Rick Lyon explains some of the differences that price can make here).

    To put it another way, a Honda Civic isn't as well built as Porsche, but that doesn't mean the Civic isn't a nice car that will do what you need it to.

    There are lots of very talented builders - Pauly and Michelle among them - who produce great work and price it low to keep it affordable for their customers. There's a big market for that. If anything Pauly and Michelle's work is probably underpriced and not representative of the kind of puppets I'm talking about.

    The cheaper puppets I usually knock are the kinds put out by companies like Kids on the Block and to a lesser extent OWS - relatively expensive puppets that are extremely derivative and poor quality. It may not even be fair to lump OWS in that category because I've heard they've made some big leaps in terms of quality in recent years, but the puppets I've seen in person were not very good. I won't even get started on the horrible expensive puppets KotB forces it's groups to buy from them.

    To me, a really good high quality puppet - I don't want to say "professional" because it's such a loaded word - is one that's light, doesn't look derivative, can be manipulated properly in a life-like manner and is built to last out of durable, flexible and high quality materials. But you know what? Half of the puppets I have don't meet that criteria because they had to be built quickly or made on the cheap and that's OK too.

    In the end whatever works, works.
  3. PaulyPuppets

    PaulyPuppets New Member

  4. Show and Tell

    Show and Tell Member

    I reopened this thread in a failed attemp to find a info on registering my new business.LOL kinda funny how it seemed for a moment this old thread almost opened a can of worms. Thanks for the answer Buck. I'll check into that link.
  5. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    I'm not addressing anyone in particular, but on the topic of so-called "trade secrets."

    I'm Vice-President of the Mid-South Cartoonists Association (part of the Southeastern Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society), and my own character (you all know him, Muley) is also a puppet (and mascot costume). This isn't necessarily about puppetry, but ties-in.

    Even though I've had the cartoon character for 25 years this year, I'm still learning more and more about comic stripping. There's more to the process than just reading about it in books or online, or practicing it. It's about learning from people who DO it. My pal, Greg Cravens ("The Buckets" syndicated cartoonist) has offered to sit down with me (yet again) and help me learn what he can teach me what he knows to better my own art, but also to help further the art of cartooning--the sole purpose of the Mid-South Cartoonists Association!

    Regardless what I can read about the technique or business of the career of comic strips, I'll learn more from someone who is actually DOING that. And in turn, what I learn I can teach someone who is less knowledgeable about the topic than I.

    And it all kind of ties-in to puppetry, performance and building. Everyone is so keen on their own 'trade secrets' that they are afraid to pass it on. Okay, so you taught yourself something. Well, someone else knows that same technique too--and probably before you did. At the same time, there's someone else who is trying to learn it. To say that someone hasn't gumption to research it and try to learn said 'trade secret' is hypocritical at best, especially when they live so far away and won't ever even be near enough to warrnt the title of 'the competition!'

    I don't know everything, and I'm not an encyclopedia of information about puppetry, but I know what I know and that's all available to whoever is willing to listen and learn. For me personally, the promotion of the art of cartooning and the art of puppetry and the continuation of either depends on me as someone who KNOWS about the topic to teach someone who NEEDS to know so they can become professional enough to BE an artist in that field. Otherwise, you have a bunch of amateurs running around trying to figure it out and with more amateurs than those in the know we stand a possibility of discrediting our own professionalism by 1) folks seeing the amateur art first and then considering that everyone performs that same way and, 2) letting an artform die by not promoting and teaching it when we can.

    After all, if everyone kept tight-lipped about 'trade secrets' then we wouldn't have universities or educators, and the books and websites we suggest that someone hasn't had 'gumption' to research first wouldn't ever have existed if those authors were tight-lipped to begin with, would we?

    On a semi-hypocritical note of what all I just said: My characters in particular (Muley and friends) have patterns designated specifically for my own design, and those patterns would never be shared because of they are particularly distinct; however, I have a basic people-pattern (and even use the Blue Boy Pattern off AOL with some alterations--that's how I built my Mahna-Mahna puppet) which I'll share upon request via mail (as long as SASE is included).

    So, in summary: There are no 'trade secrets,' especially not within these forums because someone before you already figured out what you know, and though you may have struggled to figure it out we as professionals should educate others on how it's done as appreciation for having been given that knowledge.

    I'm an open book and when I can I'm willing to offer up whatever information someone might need. Unfortunately, I don't have as much time these days to pay much attention to the boards. I just hope others will follow my lead and educate those with a passion for learning and plan on using what they learn.

    Those without passion, then I just don't have the time. You can tell the difference.
  6. Show and Tell

    Show and Tell Member

    I don't believe anyone here is having to reinvent the wheel or anything. The fact is, anyone that really has a genuine desire to learn this art is going to take the time to do some simple research to look up that information that has already been discovered. As has already been stated, I think you've really gotta be some jerk to just withhold simple things like where to buy materials or links to patterns or helps that have already been made public information on the net. But in the same respect I think it rather lazy of someone with any desire to become a puppeteer, puppet builder or rock collector to not even bother trying to locate this info unless they have no knowledge that this info exists. Many times new people come into this forum as I did myself requesting information on how to get started. I am extremely greatful for all the help I have recieved here. I've learned incredibly valuable info has shaped the direction of my career in life. That being said, I have had to invest much of my time researching old threads much of my money buying materials tools of the trade and books, videos, news letters and going to performances where I could take what I have learned here and see it work to gain a better understanding.

    All I'm saying is public info should be freely distributed since as Fozzie said it was given to you. But don't just hand them everything. There is something very inspiring about the research as well.

    Now on the other hand, inventions of your own I can understand not wanting them just given out. But PLEASE!!! Don't just let that invention die with you. Give it to someone. Even if it never becomes common knowledge still give it to someone. Someone who will use it and keep it alive. Archive it or something.
  7. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    That's why I have 2 Muley apprentices...one is my best-friend Lin (Vice-President of Mule Operations), and a girl who is just starting out--I'm teaching her the 'threads' of puppet building (various simple puppets), and then one day she'll be helping me with Muley and Friends.

    The patterns for Muley are all on file, so if something happened to me, it's all available to whoever comes afterwards to continue the character, and on the cartoon, puppet, and suit levels I have someone designated. These patterns won't be made public, obviously since they're basically trademarked, but they are available to those who will need it.

    I do have links and patterns available to those who need them, though, as mentioned above and I'll pass them all around the table for some sampling--so break out the spoons! heh heh...
  8. bobhopesite

    bobhopesite Active Member

  9. Personally, I think it is ridiculous to keep any info one has learned to oneself -- I wonder how amazing it would be if everyone shared all their building secrets, how quickly we could all advance to the next step. It's a socialist idea I suppose, but I'm willing to share any and all of my secrets with others so they can build up from that point, and then share the info they gather the next time around.

    This parallels my belief that copyrights are a hinderance to artistic excellence. They can be useful for somethings, such as ensuring that a song doesn't get used for opposite purposes than for which it was written -- that would destroy the original artist's intent. However, I would strongly advocate free usage of songs or any visual works which, when incorporated into a film, correspond beautifully with the message of that film and essentially combine forces to spread the original message more powerfully. As someone who does produce some music and visual art, I honestly think it would be greedy of me to hold them back from accomplishing those purposes, and they would bring me more joy than the creating of them to see them being used by other people to spread the same messages. So the same goes for puppet building info. I think that is one of the ultimate joys of creating -- building off each other.
  10. Iokitek

    Iokitek New Member

    That's great when it's your hobby. But when you're a professional alot of legal issues come into play. If I would copy your puppets for instance and present them as my own you would probably be really ****** and you'd wish you could undertake legal actions. Escpeically if I become wealthy with it while you don't make a dime.

    I understand completely that some people don't want to share their secrets. But as Buck said some things are not even secrets at all. They are public knowledge. Everyone who for instance refuses to tell other people where to buy antron fleece is a fruitcake in my opinion. They are obviously not professionals then or else they would've easily been able to distinguish a trade secret from public knowledge.

    On related note: I notice alot of puppet builders are not exactly happy people. I'm guessing this has to do with the stress of trying to build up a business.
  11. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    I guarantee your position on this would change if someone started using Scary Larry and made millions merchandising him. That's why copyright exists. :p

    Still, I guess by Bill Gates' standards I'm one of those pesky "Creative Commies" who advocate Lawernce Lessig's idea of Free Culture too. Now what's misunderstood about "free" culture is that in many cases it's not entirely free (unless the author of a work chooses it to be) but it is fair. There's more info available on the Free Culture web site

    A complete absence of copyright would undermine many artist's ability to make a living and would allow them (and their work) to be exploited unfairly, but copyright as it exists today is sorely in need of reimagining.
  12. Iokitek

    Iokitek New Member

    That Free Culture concept is very interresting. I've been reading up on it for abit. And so far it's very insightfull from what I can tell. I'm not the kind of person to copy someone elses ideas as a whole. But it's obviously good to read up on it some more. Wich I will surely do :)
  13. PaulyPuppets

    PaulyPuppets New Member

    A lot of people period are not exactly happy people. Who among us doesn't have stress, no matter what you do?
  14. bobhopesite

    bobhopesite Active Member

    Yeah.
  15. Show and Tell

    Show and Tell Member

    I totally agree with you on this one Buck. Look at all the inventions in the world.(I realize this would fall under patents and not copyrights but its the principle) what if noone was able to take the credit for there own invention. What real motivation would anyone have to invent or further the human race? People have a need aside from the paycheck that comes with it to be rewardeed for their contribution to mankind. Even in puppet building. If you make strides to develope this art, human nature is to want your name to go on as having been the one that made this accomplishment. Still I feel that in the event you are unable to go on, the steps you have taken should be forwarded to another so whatever it is you do wheather it be rocket science or puppetry can advance even a step beyond you.
  16. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Wow! who dug this bone from it's grave?! I jump in to see if anything new is happening around here and thought I had entered a time warp or something. :p


    Hello everyone.
    -M
  17. Show and Tell

    Show and Tell Member

    *hides his head in shame* I did.:o
  18. Rugby

    Rugby Member

    "if you are just told how to do something i dont think u are really learning."


    Then what is the point of going to school or college? Should we all just learn how to do whatever we want to do on our own? Do doctors and surgeons just figure it out on their own? Do plane mechanics just figure it out on their own? Come on.
  19. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member


    there is a big difference between school and being told how to do something,

    first of all at school u are given basic skills and then they are expanded on thru the years , and a doctor or surgeon, actully learns alot thru working with mentor and learing anaotomy , studying books and then under the guidance of others is taught , how to do all that is needed, , same for mechanics, and if you really want to get down to it,

    college, and university students, medical students, and mechanics, and engineers all do something that somebeody just asking for an answer dosent.

    THEY ALL PAY TUTION, OR SCHOOL FEES, OR FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION COuRSES!!!!!!!!!

    now im not saying im apposed to giving advice here and there, but , im not going to give away the whole store of knowledge for free,sorry but thats life sometimes you have to pay for things, and if you want to learn every little nuance , then i will gladly teach you , but for a fee, like any other teacher.

    i spent years of life training my self, working as a intern, as a low level employee, and finally as a recognized designerand builder, that took hard work effort , and determination, why would i just give away my talent or Knowledge for free ???????
  20. Rugby

    Rugby Member

    It's nice to see the reality and truth that puppetry is actually all about the money. Not. If somebody were to start up a competitive company using your knowledge, I could understand. But refusing to help a fan of puppets for recreational use only is mind boggling.

    Give them advice on how to build a puppet and sure, they may not buy one of yours. Don't tell them and they still might not buy one of yours. Can you really blame people for asking? Have you tried researching puppet building? There isn't exactly a wealth of quality information out there. I could almost vomit everytime I hear somebody refer someone to The Muppets Make Puppets and that kind of information. I think most of us are past making puppets with sandwich baggies and paper plates. The fact is, there isn't much out there to help one build a halfway decent puppet. That's why people come here, to a popular muppet web site, to ask. Maybe they think this would be the best resource for getting puppet building advice. The greed in the puppet business just annoys me.


    I should say, I don't really have a problem with your decision to not help others in the hobby of puppetry as much as your attitude towards those that ask for help.


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