Note: Please keep in mind this Interview is (C) 2006-2011 Teddy Ruxpin
INTERVIEW.. With Artist Maggie Parr
2006, I had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Maggie Parr, the
artist responsible for the wonderful new artwork in the books released
by BackPack Toys with Teddy in his newest incarnation. Please check out
her website at maggieparr.com She
has graciously agreed to do a follow-up interview with fan questions,
so if you have any contact me and they
may be included in a future installment.
I first started working with Alchemy II in 1994. I'd been a show designer at Walt Disney Imagineering for four years, and was leaving to start my own freelance business. Peggy Van Pelt from Imagineering got me an interview with Mary Becker at Alchemy. Mary and I hit it off right away, and she asked me to do some test character sketches. I studied the model sheets and started drawing -- and Teddy popped right out of my pencil! He was very easy to capture on paper. Mary was happy with my work, and hired me on a freelance basis. They wanted to revise all their books to reflect consistent model sheets. Over the years, many artists had worked on the characters, and Teddy changed in size and shape (even in outfit). So I spent several months drawing pieces of Teddy, Grubby, etc. and matching them to existing background artwork. At that time, I wasn't doing much full page work, just spot illustrations.
TRO: In our email coorespondance, you mentioned starts & stops in Teddy's recent history. Tell us more about that;
I'm not sure of the exact dates, but sometime around 1995, Alchemy closed the Chatsworth offices and put the work on hold. Then a year or two later, they arranged a deal with Yes! Entertainment Corporation to bring the Teddy products back, and Mary called me to work with Yes! on the characters. I created many book and packaging illustrations, some of them based on previous layouts, some new. I even re-did 'The Airship' based on the first version. But Yes! had some financial and marketing problems, and couldn't bring the project to fruition. We produced a lot of great art, but in the end it didn't reach the market. Mary and the rest of the Alchemy team all went their own ways, and I didn't hear about Teddy again for a few more years. In 2003, Ken Forsse called me and said Mary Becker had given him my name, and asked if I would be interested in illustrating some new Teddy books. Of course I was! And I was excited to finally meet Teddy's creator. This time, I got to illustrate entire layouts for five books. Again, some were near-duplicates of the originals, some were new, and some were just character corrections. I had a lot of fun, and really enjoyed working with Ken. He has an endless supply of creative ideas and energy.
TRO: Tell us a little more about yourself and some of the other projects you have worked on.
Thanks for asking! I've been a professional artist and designer since 1990. I put in four good years as a show designer at Walt Disney Imagineering, where I designed the Gag Factory and Five&Dime at Toontown, and worked on Beastlie Kingdomme in Animal Kingdom. In 1994 I started a freelance business, and have been designing and illustrating ever since. In addition to brainstorming many themed environments and storyboarding video games, I've created murals, portraits, toys, gifts, ornaments, ads, etc. etc. for all kinds of clients, ranging from smaller companies to the big dogs like Disney and MCA Universal. I worked on the Carouseussel in Universal Studios Florida, and painted murals in place in Tokyo Disney Seas. Right now I'm painting classical-style oil portraits of the Disney characters for the Resorts. My website (www.maggieparr.com) says it all.
Oh, and I live in Los Angeles. I grew up in Gambier, Ohio, where my parents taught Art and Drama at Kenyon College; but I came out here to Pomona College on a full scholarship, and never went back. I love the weather (and swimming outdoors) -- even though I sit inside drawing all day, I still prefer sunshine year-round!
TRO: Who's your favorite character to work on and why?
I like drawing Grubby the best, because of the simple, round shapes that make up his head and body. I get into a rhythm of drawing sweeping circles, from the large body segments to the tiny oval freckles. With six legs, he can stand in so many different positions. I also enjoy coloring Grubby -- I like the vibrant yellow-orange base, with maroon freckles and pink tongue. There's an overall logic to his structure that's very satisfying to render.
Editor's Note: Very interesting to note Jeff Wilson said the same thing for pretty much the same reasons in his interview My man Grubby is pretty popular.
TRO: With the forthcoming releases of both the toy and the DVD series, are you aware of any new Teddy products or projects currently being discussed?
I know there are several things in the works that can't be discussed yet -- Teddy fans will just have to be patient. Fortunately, it's always worth the wait!
TRO: Thank You for taking time to do this interview Maggie, Fans I'm sure will feel very good knowing Teddy's future in artwork is in such capable hands.
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