I was five when I saw "The Muppets Take Manhattan" in the theatre. I left the theatre wildly in love with the work of Jim Henson and the hilariously imaginative world of the Muppets. Since then The Muppets movies played over and over through my childhood till I nearly wore the VHS tapes out! The Fraggle Rock & Muppet Babies shows were top favorites as I grew up too. I was a bit to young to catch The Muppet Show on TV, but when I saw them in rerun, it solidified my lifelong love for all things Muppets. Later the mystical magic of Dark Crystal & Labyrinth pulled me deeper into my admiration for the worlds Jim Henson, Brian Henson, Frank Oz (and the teams) were creating. Jim Henson's imaginative work and unique creativity has been the biggest source of inspiration on my creative journey. Not only because of the depth of work he created, but most of all the joyful heart behind the artistry. His anthem of following your dreams and letting your imagination run wild connected with me as a young artist. I also wanted to create art that brought joy, hope and laughter like Jim Henson & Co. His legacy continues to inspire me as an illustrator today!
It has been a lifelong dream to visit the Jim Henson Co. studios, and thanks to my friend Justin Hilden (designer/illustrator for the Jim Henson Co.) that dream came true while visiting LA this weekend! HUGE heartfelt thank you to you Justin, from one JH/Muppet fanatic to another!
Walking onto the lot was truly a magical moment. The space has a peaceful calm and welcoming warmth that echoes the heart of Jim Henson. You can feel the legacy of creativity as you walk the hallowed grounds. Not only is there a rich history from the magic of The Muppets & Co., but the fact that Charlie Chaplin once lived, worked and created here too adds a level of creative history that is deeply inspiring!
I loved this old photo on the wall, I felt EXACTLY like Charlie here ... wide eyed at every turn!
Seeing props featured around the studio from some of my favorite films was deeply moving! I was in awe knowing these were actual pieces used to bring the stories to life as only Jim Henson Co. creatives can! I was like a Skeksis "mmmmm-ing" through the entire tour.
Standing on the stage where Charlie Chaplin, Jim Henson and so many other legendary artists created was a true highlight of the tour! (The Creature Shop had just wrapped up production.)
A collection of WELL DESERVED awards!! I hope Jim Henson Co. continues to be awarded for all the endless creativity they continue to bring to the world!
The screening room felt like a cozy family movie room, which is fitting as the Jim Henson Co. family gather there to celebrate and enjoy films together. I wished I could have stayed and had a Muppets movie marathon! (sorry about the low lighting on the poster shots).
Honored to walk through the main conference room. A truly inspiring space to meet, plan & dream! The walls are lined with incredible concept art & props. The most magical piece is a giant mural by Coulter Watt that once hung in the Henson townhouse.
The Henson Recording Studios holds another place of inspiration for me, as I think of all the classic songs that have been created behind this legendary door! I can only imagine what the artists that record here today must feel! It was Kermit's banjo playing that inspired me to want to be a banjo player too! "Rainbow Connection" will forever be my favorite song, and one that I feel an avalanche of inspiration from with every listen.
Spotted this "Creature Shop Challenge" poster on the wall. This is a Flowers family favorite show, that we REALLY HOPE will have many more seasons! If you haven't watched it, you should check it out today. Crazymazing creativity from the contestants and Brian Henson brings his unique insights and vision to the judging panel.
It was a HIGHLIGHT to see Brian Henson on the tour (I didn't get to meet him but saw him in his office. I do hope to meet him one day!) Lisa Henson walked by us, which was fun to see her in person. I highly admire the way all of Jim Henson's children continue to bring the legacy of their father to everything the Jim Henson Co. creates each with their own unique talents and vision. A true history of creativity!
Enjoyed a quick tour through the teams offices, where they continue to create amazing work in the spirit of Jim Henson (of course I was daydreaming of working among them!) The team has a warm family dynamic that I was very impressed with, and felt like it captured the heart of Jim Henson's vision for creative community!
Justin's office featured a few of my favorite recent pieces of his personal work, as well as a splendid collection of Muppets memorabilia. It certainly shows his lifelong love for all things Muppets too. I'll admit I wanted to stay and start an internship with him to learn his animation and illustration skills! Justin has also started a "Henson Art Gallery" at the office that features a range of artwork from fellow coworkers. An inspired idea, I believe Jim Henson would have loved!
If you haven't checked out Justin's INCREDIBLE work, I highly recommend it. Be sure to check out his amazing animation project "Oh, Possum!". It showcases Justin's unique illustration style & clever storytelling. Justin's creative journey has given him a rich depth of creative talent from animation, puppetry, illustration, design and writing - it all comes together perfectly in this project!.
Truly blessed by this experience and one I will cherish all my life. My dream is now to work with the Jim Henson Co. in some capacity. I actually have a little book idea brewing in my brain, that I hope to share with them in the very near future. Till then, I am soaring high on the inspiration from the visit. I look forward to returning again one day as a lifelong fan, creative and dreamer.
Of course having my best friend, Luke Atencio along for this LA trip has made each experience all the more memorable! Luke is a fellow Jim Henson fan, artist and creative dreamer. He is a brilliantly talented composer, and I highly recommend you check out his work. It soundtracks many of my days in the creative cave. He has also produced all my albums, and we are in a little side band called Samename. The 2 Lukes most certainly plan to make a yearly trip out to LA for more inspired moments like this!
I cannot thank you enough Justin for this generous opportunity! You've made a lifelong Jim Henson/Muppets fan dream come true. It has been a joy getting to know you even more as a friend and fellow creative. I look forward to more connections with you in the years ahead. Many blessings to you as you continue to create and inspire with your work!
Forever grateful to you Jim Henson. You have inspired a lifelong dreamer in me! We miss you greatly but cherish the legacy of creativity and unique artistry you gave to this world.