Adam Kreutinger, AKA The Puppet Nerd, has come to Dragon Con to enlist us all in the greatest venture available to novice nerds.
Want to make something? Put a puppet together for the first time.
Want to achieve true artistry? Turn a ragbag into a hero.
Want to impress your friends? Introduce them to the Puppet Nerd!
Daily Dragon (DD): What kick-started your interest in puppetry?
Adam Kreutinger (AK): My foray into puppetry began in an unexpected way. I was cast in a local theatre production of Little Shop of Horrors. Despite my background in magic, and no prior experience with puppetry, I found myself as an assistant puppeteer—a decision the director felt was fitting due to my magician skills.
It was during these rehearsals that I met Zach Haumesser, who would become a dear friend. One day, Zach introduced a puppet that was truly captivating. Crafted by an artisan from the Jim Henson company, it was a distinguished grey frog donning a smoking jacket, reminiscent of a Kermit-meets-Hugh Hefner vibe.
I was spellbound. Prior to this, I’d always seen characters from Sesame Street as real entities rather than puppets, such was the skill of their portrayal. But holding this puppet, feeling its artistry firsthand, I was hit with an epiphany: these weren’t just toys or tools—they were pieces of ART. From that moment, my fascination with puppetry grew, and I was irrevocably hooked.
DD: Are there any puppetry styles you prefer and why?
AK: My work unmistakably reflects the profound influence of Jim Henson on my puppetry journey. I believe this resonates with many puppeteers. The Henson-style puppetry often serves as a seminal introduction for many into the realm of puppet artistry.
As my dedication to puppetry deepened, I ventured into puppetry conferences and festivals. These experiences significantly broadened my horizons and introduced me to a myriad of puppetry styles.
While I predominantly practice the Henson style, I have a diverse range of interests within puppetry. I frequently employ marionettes for local performances and am increasingly captivated by tabletop puppetry. Moreover, the art of object manipulation holds a special place in my heart, seamlessly blending everyday items with the world of puppetry.
DD: Who is your favorite audience and why?
AK: A common misconception is that puppetry is reserved exclusively for children. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Those who believe they don’t like puppetry are wrong. They might have seen a show that wasn’t to their liking, but puppetry is not a genre—it’s a versatile storytelling tool.
My favorite audiences are those who approach puppetry with an open heart and a readiness for fun.
This is one of the reasons I love creating puppetry videos for my YouTube channel, Puppet Nerd. The digital platform offers viewers flexibility—they can watch at their leisure, pause whenever necessary, and skip to videos that resonate with them. And, in the vast world of YouTube, they might stumble upon other talented puppeteers, expanding their appreciation for the art form. The world truly needs more puppetry.
DD: Describe how other puppeteers have influenced or inspired your puppet artistry.
AK: The puppetry community has been a fountain of inspiration for me, with countless puppeteers leaving indelible marks on my journey. Through our podcast Puppet Tears, which I co-host with my friend Cameron Garrity, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the most devoted puppeteers in the industry, deepening my gratitude for this incredible community.
However, if I had to single out one influential figure, it would undeniably be Dave Goelz. His transformative journey from crafting puppets for The Muppet Show for Jim Henson, then stepping into the limelight as the enduring performer behind Gonzo the Great has been a significant source of inspiration for me. Delving deeper into his background, I see parallels between us, particularly our shared passions for tinkering, creating, and the intricate world of puppet mechanics.
Dave’s kindness and generosity have further endeared him to me. Earlier this year, I published a book titled Puppetry 101: Creating Film and Television Style Puppetry—a compilation of all I wish I’d known at the outset of my puppetry journey. To have Dave Goelz graciously write the foreword for my book was an honor beyond words.
DD: How has your Puppet Nerd YouTube channel expanded your audience?
AK: The Puppet Nerd YouTube channel has undeniably broadened my audience reach, though that wasn’t the initial goal. Originally launched under my own name, it was conceived as a way to document my journey as an artist. Inspired by creators like Callen Schaub, who meticulously captures every painting process on video, and Jason Freeny, who thoroughly documents his work through photographs, I also decided to record the process of every puppet I make.
As time passed, the channel evolved organically into a thriving community, prompting me to rebrand it as Puppet Nerd. This shift mirrored a change in perspective: the channel was no longer solely about my personal journey, but a collective passion for puppetry. By adopting The Puppet Nerd moniker, it became easier to involve collaborators and showcase works from other talented puppeteers. This sense of community also extended to our Facebook group, Puppet Nerd – Tutorial Q&A, which boasts a vibrant membership of around 17K.
DD: We understand that you created your wife’s wedding gown. Impressive! What maker skills support puppet-making?
AK: Yes, I took on the ambitious challenge of crafting my wife’s wedding gown, and began just 15 days before our big day. She didn’t lay eyes on it until the morning of our wedding, too. An intriguing tidbit is that George Takei’s Facebook page condensed my wedding dress creation video into a captivating 3-minute highlight, which garnered an astounding 35 million views!
My start into puppet making was expedited by a rich foundation in sewing. I had honed my skills in tailoring, dress-making, and costume design long before puppets entered the picture. This profound expertise in sewing undoubtedly accelerated my puppet-making journey. It influenced not just the construction of the puppets themselves but also their attire. One thing you won’t find on my puppets are store-bought baby or dog clothes. It’s those kinds of details that can bring your puppet building to the next level.
You can find Adam Kreutinger, AKA The Puppet Nerd, at these Dragon Con Puppetry Track panels:
- Ultimate Puppet Ninja Warrior, Round One; FRI 1PM, Marriott A704
- Ultimate Puppet Ninja Warrior, Round Two; SAT 2:30PM, Marriott A704
- Ultimate Puppet Ninja Warrior, Finals; SUN 1PM, Hyatt Regency VI-VII
- Puppet Coaching and Characterization; FRI 5:30PM, Marriott A704
You can also find Adam on YouTube and social media including Instagram, X/Twitter, and TikTok.