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Thursday, 10 August 2017 09:56

Swift Current artist creates puppet videos to share his artistic talents

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Tommy Kirk records video for his YouTube channel at the Southwest Open art exhibition at the West Wing Gallery in Swift Current, July 29. Tommy Kirk records video for his YouTube channel at the Southwest Open art exhibition at the West Wing Gallery in Swift Current, July 29. Matthew Liebenberg

Swift Current artist Tommy Kirk is using YouTube videos to share his passion for art and for paper sculpting with others.


Five of his large paper maché puppets are currently on display in the Southwest Open art exhibition at the West Wing Gallery in Swift Current.
His YouTube channel Tommy’s Puppet Lab has grown significantly over the past year. It currently has around 43,000 subscribers and the 57 videos have received more than 10.3 million views.
He feels it is “pretty crazy” that his videos have received so much attention and he is excited about the interest in his YouTube channel.
“It’s just been growing ever since last year,” he said. “This all in one year. … It’s been phenomenal, what’s happened.”
He combines his artistic skills and his interest in fan art to create puppets and marionettes that are based on various video game characters.
His most successful video, which basically started his YouTube channel’s success, shows his five human-size puppets that are based on characters from the horror-themed video game Five Nights at Freddy’s. That video has now received more than 4.6 million views.
“I just had one video up there, just to show family members and friends,” he said. “I didn’t know that was going to get four and a half million views, but that’s what happened. That’s the one video that made my channel so big.”
He used those puppets for his display at last year’s Southwest Open and he therefore feels the exhibition contributed to his success on YouTube.
“It helped me tremendously,” he said. “If I hadn’t gone to that show, I wouldn’t be a YouTuber today.”
Other videos on his YouTube channel have also been very popular. His tutorial video for making a face mask based on the Five Nights at Freddy’s character Ennard has received more than 1.1 million views His video on making a marionette that looks like the cartoon character Bendy already received over 685,000 views.
“A lot of my videos are tutorials, how to make these things,” he said. “Lots of people have made them and they said they got very good results. They enjoyed it.”
Kirk creates all sorts of puppets and marionettes, including ventriloquist dummies. He will feature some of his puppets in puppet show videos.
“The stories I make depend on the time of year,” he said. “Around the holidays they’ll be a Christmas theme and I even use my puppets to reply to YouTube comments. I would post response videos and I’d have my puppets answer some of the questions, and the kids seem to love that.”
His YouTube channel is aimed at families and many of his viewers are therefore children. The comments from viewers will vary from requests for advice on making a puppet to expressions of appreciation for his channel.
“Kids ask questions about the puppets, their personalities, what do they like,” he said. “There’s sometimes questions about me as an artist, what I do, and even some questions on what are some potential projects coming.”
He works as an industrial painter and he therefore spends time after work to create the videos for his channel.
“I work 10 hours a day, then I come home, I eat supper, then spend another two or three hours doing this,” he said. “So I’m always busy. I hardly have any free time.”
He appreciates the support from viewers and it also motivates him to keep going and to create new videos for the channel.
“I really owe a lot of thanks to my subscribers, because they’re the ones that support me,” he said. “They want to see me succeed, they just love what I do. They love watching me make things, they love me doing puppet shows, and I’ve received a number of testimonies. I even get e-mails from school teachers now and art teachers and such.”
Kirk’s interest in art started when he was a child and he has always enjoyed crafting and finding ways to be creative.
“I’ve always liked making unique things and I always get inspired by a lot of games that I play,” he said. “I sometimes like to make the props from the games. I’ve started with that. I come from a family of artists. My dad works with wood, he’s a very gifted carpenter, and my mom does a lot of watercolour painting.”
His goal as a self-taught artist is to show others that they can be successful in expressing their creative talents. He has been an active member of DeviantArt, an online social network for artists and art enthusiasts.
He also uses his artistic endeavours to support charities. He organizes online art collaborations through DeviantArt that gives artists an opportunity to participate in a digital art project and he then donates money to different charities, such as the Canadian Red Cross and Operation Christmas Child.
Last year DeviantArt recognized his charity work and his contribution as an active and supportive member of this online art community by awarding him with the group’s Deviousness Award for July 2016.
To watch his YouTube videos, go to www.youtube.com/tommygk or visit his website at https://tommyspuppetlab.com/

Read 1845 times Last modified on Friday, 11 August 2017 14:38
Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer