An interest in graphic art and animation has been a driving force in both our lives. Chris studied Commercial Art and worked for over twenty-five years as a Production Artist. She is now a freelance graphic designer for both web and print, recently adding Book Design to her porfolio. Peter attended Loyola University in Chicago, graduating with degrees in Fine Art and Communication, which led career as a Model Maker creating extras effects for national television commercials.
As children we each found a fascination with animated window displays, puppets, stop motion films, mechanical toys -- anything that came alive though movement. We met in Chicago over thirty years ago and began experimenting with stop motion puppet animation. This lead to our first project from a local production company who commissioned us to make a stop motion puppet for Dutch Boy Paints. We later moved to Florida, working together in the art department of a Tampa advertising agency.
"We make automata." This answer to the question of our employment usually leaves the inquirer with a puzzled look on their face as they mentally try to decipher the meaning of our statement. "Automata, what's automata?" Our response of, "we make moving figures" turns a light on; "Oh, like those dancing Santas, I have one of those." Technically correct, but not really.
Our design process starts with an attitude. We find inspiration in strange and unusual imagery; beautiful but disturbing, intriguing yet provokes feelings of uneasiness. People we encountered on our travels with interesting faces, outrageous hairstyles, were the inspiration for many of our figures. When we come across an interesting item, we wonder, "Who would wear such a thing?" and design a character that would.
Our lives changed drastically when we decided to become full time artists and automaton makers, it has been a rewarding experience, even if our chosen profession draws a blank stare. Our work has been referred to as "nightmarish," "disturbing," and "scary," which we find very confusing.