In December when I was fishing around for great decorations I came across the Winter Nymph and the Victorian Tatooed lady paper puppet – both the marvelous creative creations of Crankbunny. Being a naughty nymph and tattooed lady myself 😉 I immediately fell in love with these intricately drawn and crafted goodies. Lucky for me, Norma, the creative mastermind behind the Crankbunny name, was willing to share her story with Iced Vovo.
Q: I loved reading on your blog about the mythical/magical fish/rabbit you have based your name on I think it captures the wonderful whimsical puppets and other paper goodies you make. How did you get on to the Crankbunny and what about it captured your imagination enough to name your shop/business after it?
A: I’ve worked under the name Crankbunny from very early early on (there is no glorious origins story to the name – alcohol was involved though). I liked the idea of hiding under a handle (and still do somewhat) because it can be whatever it wants to be. It forces people to fill in what they think Crankbunny can mean which is more interesting than my name or a photo of me.
Q: How did you get started in designing?
A: I went to college for sculpture and then ended up working as a designer for different advertising agencies for a few years in NYC. Eventually I went to graduate school for animation and started a career as an animation director working primarily in commercials / documentaries.
Q: What drew you to paper as a medium?
A: I love making things with my hands but found the whole messy art studio sculpture space thing exhausting. Making things out of paper keeps things fairly neat, portable and practical. All you really need is a few simply non-fancy tools to start. I like that I can throw a bunch of bunch of scissors, paper, and maybe a punch or two into a box and do my work anywhere. I have gotten tons of funny looks on flights or on the subway while cutting paper, but I love how it opens up strangers to conversation.
Q: What do you currently have in your paper collection?
A: I don’t own a ton of my own stuff and nor do I keep any good care of it. I do have a collection of vintage paper mechanical ephemera from the early 1900s and paper art from other artists I love. Those I cherish. My rule is… if it’s paper and interactive – I want it.
Q: I noticed the links to Brian Ewing’s wonderful graphic prints is this an on going collaboration?
A: I’ve known Brian for a really long time and he has always been super supportive of what I’m doing — plus open to doing different things with his art. Not a ton of artists are into doing that (…watches, pillows, plastic toys don’t count). I’ve worked with other artists also through Von Zos (www.landofzos.com/) helping them with the production of the paper goodies. Von Zos is a fun ongoing thing that helps me flex some paper problem solving skills while helping other similar artists test their work out in a different paper medium.
Q: I also read on your blog that you are also currently working on animations for the upcoming Rush concert – very exciting – how did your work with them come about and can you tell a little about what you have planned for this tour?
A: I’ve worked with Rush on three different tours. The latest work that is finished and out now is for the Clockwork Angels tour that should be going until the end of 2013. With the first tour I was asked to do animated projections for one of their songs called “Way the Wind Blows”. They were super happy with the animation for that song because it’s a fairly serious song but I was able to incorporate funny things into the animation. Those guys love funny – they don’t take themselves TOO seriously, which is fantastic.
Q: What came first, the animations or the paper goodies – and do you have a preference for one or love doing both?
A: I learned really how to build paper dolls and puppets from working in animation. I do still love animating, but animation projects can take up to 3 months to complete usually. I love the paper work because its instant gratification and also the connection I get with my customers. They buy work I make with my hands – that work then becomes part of the story of their life (because it’s for a birthday, anniversary, or even marriage proposal) – and that is something I don’t get from animation in such a direct manner. Even if they buy something for themselves, it is something they handle and play with their own hands. I know it makes them wonder and smile.
Q: I had a look at the animation links you have on your blog and there is such a variety of projects you have worked on such as a campaign for people with depression, to a diet product, a lovely one promoting handmade goods on Etsy and a lovely fable called SODA using shadow puppetry. Can people approach you for animation work/projects or how did these projects come about?
A: For the last 7 years I had representation with some amazing companies in Toronto and NYC that allowed me to connect with other folks wanting to do animation for all sorts of different projects. So I ended up animating for a wide range of things. Recently I have decided to take on less commercial projects in the future and only work on projects make me personally grow creatively. Animating is tedious and I appreciate it as a craft more now.
Q: Is your Etsy shop the only place people can buy your wonderful work?
A: Crankbunny goodies are available through the regular online store at shop.crankbunny.com and also the Etsy store at crankbunny.etsy.com I also do wholesale with a few wonderful boutiques in the US, Australia and Spain.
Q: What’s planned for Crankbunny in 2013?
A: I’ve left NYC recently and have a TON of exciting things planned for 2013. There of course will be a new Valentine card (or two) available in early January. My first how-to book called Paper Puppet Palooza is slowly going out of print – so there are plans to put out a shorter how-to series for learning how to make paper dolls, toys and pop up cards. I’ll be animating some more and doing more paper sculptural pieces for the home – similar to the Winter Muse Advent Calendar bust figure. There will be also experimenting more with technology and incorporating that into paper because I am a huge tech dork.
I can’t wait to see what Norma comes up with next. I also highly recommend popping by the Crankbunny blog to view some of Normas wonderful animations – so clever!
Please take note, Crankbunny will be closing the Etsy store until January 2nd (Dec 18th to Jan 2nd) but will have the regular store at shop.crankbunny.com open during that time.
You can also find links to Crankbunny on Iced Vovo’s Fab-Finds page – I know I’m going to be popping by again soon!
(Photos courtesy of Crankbunny)