See How This Puppeteer Breathes Life into His Puppets


Ricky Syers is an artist who makes marionettes based on real people. He started out playing music in Washington Square Park and just brought a marionette for fun. He later realized people wanted to see the marionettes more than watch him play the drums.

Ricky became famous with the creation of ‘STIX” the very talented star marionette

Ricky Syers created a puppet called ‘Stix’.The way Ricky Syers, the puppeteer (actually called a manipulator), moved this little guy to show him dancing, walking, breathing and snoozing is just amazing. The details are fantastic – the way he sucks on his cigarette, glugs from a bottle of moonshine or wipes his brow. It is so easy to think that it actually is a mini human because Ricky breathes life into him.

    The way Stix sucks on his cigarette or guzzles the booze is so real

Ricky Syers makes puppets based on real people in Washington Square Park. His marionettes include an elderly woman named Doris, Larry the bird guy and other Washington Square Park regulars. Ricky lives in Dunellen, New Jersey but takes the train to New York to busk in Washington Square park every chance he gets. Ricky’s marionettes look identical to the people they represent but their characters are often more exaggerated than the people in real life.

Ricky and Doris with Little Doris

Doris is a long time activist in Washington Square Park who has been a friend to artists in the park for years. Doris was interested in Ricky’s puppets and they formed a special friendship. She shared with him some old clippings of reviews she wrote about famous marionette makers like Bil Baird when she worked as an art critic. After learning so much from Doris, Ricky decided to make Little Doris.

He was keen to make Psy so that he had a marionette that could do gangnam style. But when Doris came along he changed his mind and decided to make a granny that could do gangnam style because he thought “what’s better than a granny who can dance,” Ricky said. Ricky’s puppets reflect on the relationship between identity and art. Through his animations, Ricky makes these characters come alive in the marionette versions of themselves.

‘People for the first time come up and compliment me on what I did for Doris. They come up and thank me for what I did for Doris and there’s nothing like that. I never had that before.’

‘Listen Buster, I’ll tell you what. I just walk around with a marionette. I don’t think of it as I’m going to put on a show’ says Ricky nonchalantly.

a Marionette in Manhattan from motionkicker on Vimeo.