I mentioned Brian Jay Jones’s excellent Henson biography a while back, and a succinct overview put together by Defunctland is almost complete on YouTube. Part 5 of 6 was just published, and although I feel some of the subtleties of Jim’s life and relationships are a bit glossed over or made too simple, it’s well worth a watch.
It’s a given that we look to the work of those who have come before us, the people who made significant or iconoclastic art we’re trying to make, ourselves.
But some of our influences and inspirations aren’t necessarily working in our own field. Frank Oz, Muppeteer and director, gave an AMA on Reddit that is charming and insightful. I’ve sometimes read that he can be prickly, or short with people. It doesn’t change how I feel about his work, nor even about his personality. It is, maybe, just who he is, and after all, we should be able to separate artist from art, but somehow I like him just fine even if the stories are true.
I’m reading Brian Jay Jones’s Jim Henson biography. A lot has been said about Jim’s ambitions, his genius, and his work ethic. It’s true, he worked a lot. And, as he said in at least one interview, what he liked was to work. Lots. But he (are you ready for the cliché?) played hard and even familied hard. He did everything with the same intensity. He took regular vacations, brought along Jane and the kids, and packed them with everything he wanted to see and do, including just lounging around soaking up another country’s essence.
The lesson I’m starting to see take shape is that Jim lived with intention. He was ready to change his plan and even his vision if something else seemed stronger and more true. It’s less important to champion hard work in everything, and more so to live intentionally, work steadily, be forthright. Putting things into the world is its own reward, maybe.