A couple of months ago a friend was telling me about this incredible talented guy named Ricky Syers. She told me how he created these marionettes and put on shows in Washington Square Park where people would come and watch and take pictures of him with the puppets. She also mentioned to me about a book called Humans of New York and this older woman named Doris for who he created a marionette of. I left that night not really thinking much about it but about two weeks later I found myself by chance standing in this guys garage and realized at that moment that this was who my friend was telling me about. As I looked around I was simply amazed at what I saw. From the marionettes hanging from the rafters to the incredible models that he made on shelves. His artistry and workmanship was scattered all over the room, I was so taken back that as a photographer I couldn’t stop clicking away at all the stuff I saw. I left there thinking I have to know more about this guy so I decided to ask him if I could interview him. Of course he said yes as he seemed very open and excited to always show off his creations.
About a week prior to our scheduled interview Ricky received a phone call about creating a marionette of Howie Long the sports commentator to be used in an on air segment for Pizza Hut during this years pre-game Superbowl. Ricky agreed which made for an even greater reason to pick this guys brain. I showed up at Ricky’s door just two days after he filmed the segment so everything was still so fresh in his head. I asked him what it was like as a kid because someone as talented as himself must have been doing things as a kid to show signs of greatness. He said he remembers just sitting around and taking household items and just making stuff like cannons out of pencils. He was always doing things with his hands and had an amazing way about taking an idea and creating it with whatever was around. He loved being an artist so much he even went for his Nail Technician’s license just so he could paint nails. He became a mason after that to pay his bills but knew that he wanted to be doing his own work all day and night. He was a musician who made a drum set out of garbage pails and became a one man show performing at local clubs around particularly Roxy n Dukes in Dunellen New Jersey. The shows allowed him to make playing music a full time gig and the puppets were his own entertainment. He would create puppet shows in his driveway and across the street at Roxy’s to hundreds of people. After a while the shows started to dwindle away and he had to find some way to keep it going. He decided just this past August of 2013 to venture into New York City to be a street musician. He always had his little friends with him to use for entertaining himself and the people around him at the park. He quickly realized that his marionette Stix was his ticket. Everyone wanted to see Stix perform, pretty soon everyone was asking to take pictures and Ricky and his creations became the act to watch. He had noticed this old lady watching him and Stix but she never talked much. One day she came over and whispered to him I have something to show you and she opened up a scrap book filled with articles she had written about marionettes back in the day but also had some new articles that she had written about Ricky. He was so inspired by Doris he decided to create a marionette of her. To his surprise she was so overwhelmed that it became a huge story that was written up in the town paper The Villager and even featured in a book called Humans of New York of which they were asked to be present at the book signing. Ricky and Doris have since formed a special bond that will last forever.
Ricky talked about the phone call from an advertising agency that he received, at first he was like is this real or a prank. After checking out all the parties he realized it was for real and worked out a deal that he would create a little Howie Long marionette for the NFL to use in a Pizza Hut segment to air during the pre-game Superbowl on Fox Sports.He said he was so excited that before he got the final agreement he starting making the puppet just in case he didn’t have enough time. They said because he was very humble and sincere they chose him out of seven candidates. Little Howie is amazing and I had the pleasure of seeing him in action during the interview. Ricky Syers is truly an amazing talent and I wish him all the best.