Peter MacKennan Artwork

Peter MacKennan


I began my professional career as a puppeteer at age 7, performing at birthdays, libraries and later in the parks of Dutchess County, NY. Drawing inspiration from the folklore and fauna of the Hudson Valley, I cultivated a whimsical and abiding love of animals, nature and storytelling. 

At Sarah Lawrence College I Studied literature, printmaking and painting. Graduating 1985, I moved to New York City, where I worked with the first of many great mentors, the late Theatrical Designer Kermit Love at his Great Jones Studio; building puppets and costumes for theater, television and film.

In 1997, I accepted a position at Jim Henson Productions on the staff of Sesame Street. During eight years at Henson - including six seasons on Sesame I was a Senior Puppet Designer, installed exhibitions, led workshops and performed as a puppeteer. I was Assistant Workshop Supervisor on the films A Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island, and managed the workshop for the first season of Jim Henson's Animal Show. I received two Emmy® Awards for my work on Sesame Street.

From 1995 to 1997, I attended the Yale School of Art, earning a MFA in painting and printmaking. 

From 1998 to 2005 I was a Creative Director in the Global Products Division of Sesame Workshop, the licensors of Sesame Street, Dragon Tales and Sagwa, among others. I worked closely with the publishing group and oversaw categories including gift, specialty and home video. I also worked frequently with the live events division, overseeing characters for Sesame Street Live and Sesame Place.

Enticed by a broad roster of character brands including Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney and Angelina Ballerina, I moved in 2005 to HIT Entertainment where I was Creative Director in the Creative Resources Group. I continued to develop products and content for North America and abroad, and was instrumental in developing The Barney 30th Birthday Bus Tour. I also worked on the popular event A Day Out With Thomas, as well as the launch of Thomas Town® at Six Flags in New England and California. 

I left HIT in 2006 ostensibly to pursue my own web based T-shirt business: Bird on Badger (still in slow development). At about the same time, I reunited with former Henson colleague Paul Andrejco. founder of the Hoboken based workshop Puppet Heap, where I am currently employed as a Senior Artist.

I continue to work in many media in both 2- and 3D, often shifting direction markedly from one piece or project to the next. Recent personal projects have included book jacket illustration (Art directed by friend and former colleague Laurent Linn) for The Year the Gypsies Came  (Henry Holt Young Adult) and a 2009 Calendar for the firm Martens and Heads. I continue to paint, design, draw and write in my home studio in New York City.