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October 23, 2013

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The Story of the Sesame Street Dictionary: Parts 2 & 3

By Betsy Loredo


Betsy Loredo is the executive editor of Sesame Workshop’s publishing group.

PART 2: The Artist

Once you get to know Joe Mathieu a little better, it’s easy to see why he was the perfect choice  to illustrate the Sesame Street Dictionary.

He’s the one on the right above.

“Jim Henson encouraged me to go to the Muppet workshop and sketch and photograph the characters in the ‘morgue,’” Joe explained when he shared this shot with us. To tackle more than 1300 words, Random House author Linda Hayward, Sesame editor Anna Jane Hays, and Joe together intended to feature many obscure, cult-favorite characters from the show. For a list of the ones to look for in the finished book, check out Muppet WikiRead More

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October 21, 2013

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The Story of the Sesame Street Dictionary: Part 1

By Betsy Loredo


Betsy Loredo is the executive editor of Sesame Workshop’s publishing group.

PART 1: The Quest

How do you define a concept as big as “I” or as difficult as “easy” to someone as little as a 4-year-old? Go ahead – try explaining the words “of” or even “off”…using words that someone who still employs a binkie can understand.

Yup. Not so easy.

It’s certainly a whole lot simpler to express an idea like “alligator” or “banana.” A toothy green reptile is a concept that you can really wrap your mind around without one word of text, if you’ve got a telling piece of art:  Read More

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February 13, 2013

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‘The Story of J': Sesame Street’s First Animation

By Susan Tofte


Susan Tofte is Sesame Workshop’s Archivist.

It is hard to imagine Sesame Street without the delightful animations that teach things like letters, numbers, emotions and problem solving. Animations have been a part of the show since the pilot episodes. But back in 1969, the idea of using a series of short animations to act like “commercials” for letters and numbers was a true innovation.

When Joan Ganz Cooney created her proposal for an educational television show, she envisioned borrowing the techniques used in making TV commercials to help teach counting and literacy. Joan and the producers knew that kids were attracted to commercials on TV. What they didn’t know was whether they could successfully create short commercial-like segments for the show that would actually teach to the curriculum. Read More

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July 05, 2012

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A Tour of Sesame Workshop’s Wall Art

By Graydon Gordian


In April we featured the work of Associate Design Director Louis Henry Mitchell, who created the wonderful chalk murals on the 8th floor of Sesame Workshop’s office. Many of our readers really enjoyed the post, so we wanted to show you the rest of the chalk art that can be found around the office.

The fun and imaginative wall art was created by our Creative Services team:

  • Graphic Designer Molly Hein (Bert and Ernie in the Subway, Ernie bowling, Gluten Free),
  • Associate Art Director Evan Cheng (Bert and Ernie in the Subway, Ernie Bowling, Gluten Free, Grover Michael Jackson)
  • Senior Design Director Vanessa Germosen (Bert and Ernie in the Subway)
  • Creative Director Kip Rathke (Super Grover)
  • Creative Director Janis Beauchamp (Elmo Peaking in)
  • Vice President Creative Director Theresa Fitzgerald (Super Grover)
  • Louis Henry Mitchell (Full Cast Welcome Sign, Elmo/Big Bird/Cookie Monster Welcome Sign, Herry)

Each of the artists brings his or her own style and technique to the portrayal of Sesame Street’s iconic MuppetsTM. The entire Sesame Workshop team loves the chalk drawings so much that we decided it was about time we shared them with everyone.

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The Story Behind Sesame Street’s Latest Spoof: The Beatles!

By Graydon Gordian


At Sesame Street we love spoofing cultural touchstones. It’s a great way to bring smiles to the faces of parents, and humoring parents along with children has been a goal of the show since its beginning. Recently, to help promote a new series of home videos, we’ve been spoofing classic posters and pop art. Our playful versions of iconic propaganda posters such as Rosie the Riveter and Uncle Sam for our “Bye Bye Pacifier” home video were very popular, but our art department’s most recent creation may be my favorite so far.

To celebrate the release of our “Singing with the Stars” DVD, Sesame Workshop artist Diana Leto created a parody of the cover of the Beatles iconic album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Diana and Art Director Mark Magner pulled from Sesame Street’s vast library of characters to create an intricate reimagining of the album’s cover art.

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April 26, 2012

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The Making of a Sesame Street Mural

By Louis Mitchell


Ed. Note: Louis Henry Mitchell is the Associate Design Director of Special Projects. He was recently tasked with drawing chalk murals of the Sesame Street MuppetsTM on the 8th floor of Sesame Workshop’s offices. The drawings have become an office favorite, so we invited Louis to talk about his creative process.

When Sesame Workshop’s CEO Mel Ming asked me to draw murals on the recently opened 8th floor of Sesame Workshop’s offices, I was excited and intrigued. Despite having been a professional artist for 35 years and having worked with Sesame for 20 of those, the murals presented some real challenges. I had worked on a black background before but never to this degree of detail, and, except for Elmo I had never drawn such large versions of some of the characters. Read More

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February 28, 2012

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The Technology Behind the Art of Drawing Oscar the Grouch

By Graydon Gordian


Evan Cheng, associate art director of character design, draws on his digital tablet.

When Sesame Street debuted in 1969, the term “digital pen tablet” didn’t exist. It would be years before the use of personal computers and similar technology became widespread. But nowadays digital tablets are one of the primary tools used by our Creative Resources team, the talented people who take Grover, Elmo and Big Bird and create the vivid two-dimensional images that go in educational books, on clothes and on any other item where Sesame Street MuppetsTM can be found.

Often they’ll begin drawing an image with a pencil and paper, but the advancements made in tablet technology now allow them to complete a drawing in a small fraction of the time it formerly took. Unlike previous tablet technology, the Wacom tablets Sesame Workshop uses allow an artist to draw directly on the screen, as opposed to a separate touch sensitive pad. They also respond to the pressure of the pen, giving the artist crucial control of the thickness of lines. Whether furry or feathery, every Sesame Street MuppetTM is incredibly textured. The artists on our Creative Services team need that level of control to render them accurately.

The tablet also allows the artist to view the drawing from a variety of angles and distances. If the artist zooms in on a particular section of the image in order to add small details, his pen strokes will affect a zoomed-out version of the image as well. That way he or she can see how the details are changing the entire drawing.

The digital pen tablets used by the Creative Resources team are just another example of the ways Sesame Workshop is using technology to encourage laughter and fun, while educating children all over the world.

To learn more about the digital pen tablet technology, watch this video in which Sesame Workshop artist Diana Leto explains how she uses it.

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