Morning Coffee Blog: The Competition

I often say to people curious about the scope of this field, puppetry and puppet building is small but bigger than you think. When I started, I never dreamed there would be enough people out there to turn Operation: Puppet into a little community, but nevertheless here we are.

Particularly in the build streams, we have several regulars who are fellow builders. We often talk shop, trade ideas and techniques, and overall, it’s a friendly, supportive thing. To any narrow-minded Capitalist this is counter-intuitive, as many of these folks have shops of their own and we are, in all likelihood, in direct “financial” competition.

I determined from the start to purge all such gross and greedy thinking from my approach. Yes, there is probably a limited pool of puppet-buying people out there who are shopping around and looking at many builders to pick just one, but that’s no reason to be churlish and try to pretend I’m the only game in town or hoard “secrets” to get a leg-up.

“A rising tide raises all boats” is a lovely sentiment that doesn’t always work in practice, but nevertheless it’s how I approach it. The agenda of O:P, if there is one, is to expand and amplify the reach of puppetry as both a hobby and a career. It doesn’t exist solely as a Muppet nostalgia hit – we need a constant influx of new people taking it up, and in this decade that means using modern broadcast techniques and a welcoming face, not a miserly gatekeeper.

To paraphrase the dearly departed Terry Pratchett, it’s not about a bigger slice of the pie, it’s about enlarging the pie. Everyone in this hobby (or vocation) knows how special and powerful it is. That’s something I want to make available to more people, and that will benefit both myself and my fellow builders and performers alike. As I said, the shop exists to keep O:P going, not the other way around.

Operation: Puppet is still small enough that we’re barely on the radar, but that’s slowly changing. Current YouTube subscriber count it 647 (which still blows my mind), for example. Adam Kreutinger, probably the biggest public-facing puppet builder on YouTube, has a current subscriber count of 136… THOUSAND. We’re nowhere near the saturation point, and the ceiling is still above the clouds. So we keep going, keep new things coming and keep the fun-generating-engine that is O:P fueled and ready. And welcome everyone, including “the competition”.

Speaking of fuel, coffee time.

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