This week’s interview is with Daniel Byrne, who is the creative director of the UK-based ‘Puppets Magic Studio’, where a vast array of fantastic and expressive puppets are born.
These puppets are made for TV, film and theatre, and Daniel has worked with many well-known clients including the BBC, ITV and HSBC.
One of my secret dreams is to have a puppet lookalike made, so I’m excited about this interview today!
Now I will hand over to Daniel….
Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your job background and how did you end up with a puppet making business in London?
I’m Daniel Byrne and I am the Creative Director of Puppets Magic Studio, a company specialising in creating custom puppets for TV, Film and Theatre. I personally have always had a fascination with puppetry since a young age and often spent my childhood creating naive puppets from scrap cardboard and thrift store fabrics.
My educational background is art school, and I studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins and Goldsmiths, mainly concentrating on sculpture.
After leaving art school I wanted to make objects that did more than sit in a gallery. I found puppetry was the perfect way to use sculpture to create an object that can perform in different types of media and so I returned to my interest in puppets and set up Puppets Magic, to provide a full character design and build service for production companies. I now have the pleasure of working with a team of talented creatives and designers.
What interests you about puppets in particular?
What interests me most about puppets is their ability to create a particular type of magic . When watching a puppet on television or in theatre, we all know the object the performer is manipulating isn’t real – we can see that the puppet itself has been manufactured in some way and a person is moving it. However, when puppets are skillfully performed a transformative illusion can take place, making a seemingly inanimate object appear to be a living, breathing entity. It is this illusion that has always fascinated me.
Who (or what) is your inspiration?
Naturally, Jim Henson’s early work is always an inspiration.
What is the most fun part of making a puppet?
The best part is always handing it over to our client and then seeing the character live it’s life on stage or screen.
What is the most difficult part of making a puppet?
Balancing the aesthetic and conceptual design alongside making sure the puppet is functional and easy to operate. A puppet can’t just look appealing, it must be comfortable and lightweight for the puppeteer to manipulate and to give their best performance.
What are three tools in your workspace that you could not live without?
Industrial razor blades to sculpt foam, our trusty fleet of sewing machines, and of course, coffee – (is that allowed?!)
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
Like any creative working to deadlines, to make work at double the speed or to pause time would be ideal.
Where can people find you online, and how do people buy custom puppets from you?
You can find us over at our website, https://www.puppetsmagic.co.uk and get in touch with us from there.