Many children have turned to a parent at some point or another and said, “I wanna be just like you.” They copy us and follow our example–until the teenage years when things can go quite opposite! We mimic to learn. We mimic to improve, but eventually we have to start emulating other people and become our own person.
Mimicry or Emulation? This very topic was brought up on The Voice. The judges said that they seek singers who are emulating their favorite singers and styles, not mimicking. Emulation allows for creativity and individuality.
When I was young there weren’t people that I want to just meet and shake their hand (then never wash it again), but there were people who I wanted to work with someday. I wanted to learn from their skills. I wanted to watch them create the magic I loved. Then I wanted to go out into the world and do the same.
Many years ago I had a rare opportunity to take some workshops from the Froud family. Wendy Froud was the second to top person I wanted to work with as a child. She helped give life to Yoda, Jen and Kira of the Dark Crystal and many fun creatures from Labyrinth. Brian and Wendy Froud are amazing artist in both 2-D and 3-D mediums.
I sat across from Brian and next to Wendy as they guided us through the making of a clay fairy figure. Amazing is just not enough to describe the experience. I learned so much from them in the handful of workshops they did in my region.
Their son, Toby, is another great artist that I also got to take workshops from. One of my favorite puppets is from the rod-puppet workshop I took from him. I keep waiting for them to do another one in driving distance of my life, but I do have to keep trying to expand my skills from what I learned already from them. I have tons of ideas that mesh my novel writing and puppet work together. Now if only the kids would learn to go to bed at a realistic time!
The top person on my list of people I wanted to work with… He’s not available. Jim Henson taught me many things without me having to meet him. In losing him just before I reached adulthood and headed to The Creature Shop to knock on the door and ask for work, I learned that I had to pace myself. I was prone to overworking and ignoring problems. I wish he hadn’t. I wish he could still be here to enrich our lives with his magic. I regularly watch his works and through them develop my own skills of story telling and puppetry.
I was lucky to get tickets to a showing of Toby Froud’s Lesson’s Learned. They are doing a showing of Labyrinth with it. It is bound to be such fun. I’ve wanted to see his new show since the Kickstarter information about it led me to donating all I could at that moment: Five humble dollars. Toby’s friend, Sam Koji Hale, is creating a puppet film called “Monsters of the Sky”. Between the two of these films I feel a resurgence of my dream to create films with puppets that emulate “The StoryTeller” and “The Dark Crystal”. I really hope that getting to see this showing will add to my inspiration that may take years to lead to this dream. I know I’ll talk about it more. My biggest dream was to work for Jim Henson in The Creature Shop. Someday I will live a measure of that dream by creating puppet films of my own.
So the point of all this is that mimicking is okay, but emulation is the goal. Emulate the people you admire and become someone that others will wish to emulate someday.
What do you aspire to be? Who do you emulate to become that future self? What is your biggest dream?