When did you start designing characters?
As a child, I was always creating puppets out of papier mache or cloth. While I was busy creating the character in three dimensions, my mind would be free to make up stories.
What was the first character you remember making?
An adorable group of ducks called “Duckettes”. They were created to entertain one my little sisters.
What did your parents think of these characters?
As long as my homework and chores were done, I was free to entertain myself as I pleased.
Have you always created characters?
Well, there was a period of time that I was too busy working as a graphic designer to make time for my whimsical inventions. But I noticed that they started showing up in earnest while I was at Bergdorf Goodman. Whenever I would be on the telephone or in a meeting, I would doodle these characters and then tape them onto the walls of my little office. People used to go on tours of the office and would want to know who was who and what was what. At the time, I started working the 3D in the windows, so I was naturally inclined to turn the characters into little paper mannequins. Those took up residence on my shelves. It was a very unusual corporate office.
How do create them now?
I start with a drawing then cut their shapes out of white museum board, paint it white with gesso, draw the lines in with ink and add color in several overlapping washes. When I left Bergdorf Goodman, I started to create little toy-box theatres for the characters. The characters were small at first but got bigger. So did the toy-box theatres. Before long my home is filled with characters and toy-box theatres.
Did the characters have voices?
Not as much as stories. They all had stories and when I was working on theirs, they would find their place in front of all the others.
Do you have a favorite among your characters?
I think I do, but I would hate to say which in case it might hurt some feelings.
Do you have favorite characters that someone else has created?
Some of the characters that I love are Babar by Jean de Brunhoff, Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, Piglet by A.A.Milne, Tintin by Herge, Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting, Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers, and most of the characters in Moominland by Tove Jansson.
How do you find your characters?
The question ought to be “how do your characters find me?”. I sometimes wonder if there is sign on the roof of my studio that reads, “Creatures in search of a home, inquire below.” They arrive out of the blue, whenever they want. They are very welcome, of course.
Has anything specific ever inspired you to create a character?
One summer, I listened to piece of music called Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. The piece of music did not have a real story. Then I listened to it again and by the third time, I had invented a cast of characters and written a story to accompany the music.
If you were a character, what sort would you be?
A fox. Or perhaps, an owl.
Who is the mouse that appears on top of your website?
That is Inkie. Inkie is a mouse.