Design secrets of Miss Piggy’s creator

Bonnie Erickson, who aside from creating Miss Piggy also created The Muppet Show theatrical hecklers Statler (pictured) and Waldorf.

Behind the scenes, Bonnie Erickson has created characters that have winkled their way into the hearts of entire generations as a key collaborator with The Muppet Show; she takes centre stage at Massey’s Wellington campus on Friday for a talk about her time with the internationally popular programme.

As a member of the original design team she created crowd favourites such as Miss Piggy, the hilarious theatrical hecklers Statler and Waldorf and multiple other characters across a range of Jim Henson productions.

She will share memories of her design and storytelling work, discuss the impact of Jim Henson’s vision across puppetry, television, film, special effects and media technology, as well as offer insights from her time as a creative director for the product division of the Jim Henson Company and Children’s Television Workshop. Ms Erickson is also credited with creating caricatures of Henson, Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson for the Country Trio. She went on to become creative director of the product division of Children’s Television Workshop for 13 years. She is visiting New Zealand as a special guest of the Jim Henson Retrospectacle, a celebration of the legendary puppeteer Jim Henson, his legacy, his collaborators and his much-loved characters.

Designer and typographer Associate Professor Anna Brown from the College of Creative Arts says it's especially apt that Ms Erickson is visiting Massey’s School of Design at the Wellington campus.

“The audience will be full of design students studying areas as diverse as digital and interactive media, film and television, visual effects, animation, game development, web and interactive development and fashion and textile design. For students studying the art of creative studio practice, story-telling and character development – what better place to start than with the creator of icons such as Miss Piggy and Statler and Waldorf.

“The appeal for this event has been extensive with not only our students, but also the wider creative arts sector in New Zealand and Muppet fans generally. Bonnie will be in conversation with Duncan Sarkies, a New Zealand screenwriter, playwright, novelist, stand-up comic and short story writer – best known for his film Scarfies. Duncan is the perfect person to let us get to know these peerless characters: how they were born and how their individual personalities made each and every one a firm friend – eventhe bad-tempered ones,’ Ms Brown says.

Massey is grateful to Nicola Marshall and the Square Eyes Film Foundation, who have made this project happen.


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