This Puppet Master in Maine is the Youngest in the World
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.
Meet Austin Phillips of Portland, Maine, who may just have one of the most unique jobs out there. And to top that, he's only 28 years old, making him the youngest in this field around the world.
I think it's most definitely appropriate to dub him the Puppet Master.
I learned about Austin and his company, Phillips Puppets, from a fantastic expose in Downeast Magazine, and just had to find out more. It's quite intriguing that he's right in our own backyard as a world-renowned craftsman and creator of ventriloquist dummies and figures, as well as unique puppets.
According to Downeast, Austin fell in love with puppets and learning more about ventriloquism when he was just five years old, and even taught himself how to throw his voice. He eventually started making his own dummies when he was 16 and now, at 28, owns his own business as a leading expert and go-to guy in the field of figure making and restoring.
Every dummy I make is truly handcrafted, from concept and design, to sculpture and the mould it’s cast in, from casting and carving, to the internal intricate soldered brass mechanisms, finally, the oil paint I use to hand brush the faces in the traditional style. I am present every step of the way.
Austin's gallery and studio is on Congress Street. It has an artsy charm and is filled with his own private collection of dummies and vintage figures, restorations, and current creations he customizes for clients.
This is my life. I crave to be the best in what I do, because I want every figure that leaves my shop to have the power to carry on a rich tradition. A tradition of artists and craftsman who supplied figures for the best performers on the stage, decades before me. I want you and everyone I work with to feel the joy and love I experience in my craft. This drive has separated me in my field—my dedication to be ever-perfecting what I do.
Now I'll admit, I'm one of those that has always been a bit creeped out by these types of dummies. However, learning more about Austin opened my eyes a bit to the artwork behind them, or as he told Downeast, the magic they hold, when they're not being used in a horror movie, of course.
I pride myself on my expertise both in crafting experience, and in knowledge of the history regarding figure making and ventriloquism. Working with me, you can expect your project be treated with the same knowledge, experience, traditional accuracy and passion that I treat with every work that passes through my hands; it’s all I know how to do.
If you want to find out more about Austin's magical hands and passion for his art, click here for more info.