Name: Peter Hudson
Home: San Francisco, California
Day Job: Stage Hand, Set Dresser for Theater, Film and TV
How did you get started making?
As soon as I could walk I was making. I grew up in Ben Lomond, near Santa Cruz, and developed an early fascination for film making, animation and magic. I used to tinker and build go karts with my brother as a kid. I made Star Trek props like phasers and communicators. Back then you couldn’t buy that stuff so we would make it.
We had a dark room and loved photography and loved film. We would make 8mm stop motion animations. We made one film, Killer Rock, where we made a rock that would lay around – like rocks do – and when no one was watching it would jump up and attack people. Silly little films, but that’s how I first got interested in animation.
My dad was really handy, had a ton of tools we could use and we would make as much as we could. He was always fixing things and building things, we picked up a lot from him. I was always given that permission to be myself and was always making one thing or another. My first large scale building happened when I started working for the San Francisco Opera house, building sets. That gave me a lot of tools to create my art, which is large scale.
What type of maker would you classify yourself as?
Large Scale Kinetic Sculptor
What’s your favorite thing you’ve made?
I can’t say, my work has different appeals. If asking about my Zoetropes, they all come from different inspirations, a point in my life when things were happening. Sisyphish was huge, it was my first large scale Stroboscopic Zoetrope. It is so primitive compared to the others I’ve now made, but at that time, it was so incredible to build at that scale and make something actually work and move. I had never done anything like that before.
Charon, is the most hearty and has a complete vision, I knew what it was from start to finish. But then there is Homouroboros with it’s many meanings and stories and parts and Tantalus, which is so relevant even today, and Deeper the Divers and my most recent piece, Eternal Return. I can’t say a favorite. Next question.
What’s something you’d like to make next?
I am working on small scale Maker Models, of my existing pieces. Each piece, although exciting and amazing to create, takes up so much space and storage. I am really focusing on placing my artwork in the world right now. These smaller models can help scale my work and also work to educate children about engineering, electronics, and animation.
My work involves a lot of volunteers who I invite to participate and be a part of the piece with me and without them they wouldn’t exist. So I would like to continue to share that participatory story, the message that we can all create.
The smaller models are meant to share knowledge of the structural elements and teach how to use tools, follow build drawings, and operate a human drive. There is so much that goes into Zoetropes – lighting, animation, and pre-programed microprocessors, I could go on.
But I guess if you want to know what I would really like to make next, outside of the work I am known for, it would be a short film. There’s a story I have been working on for a while that I have yet to finish. Yes, I want to make a short film.
Any advice for people reading this?
Don’t listen to the naysayers and follow your vision. It’s so easy to let other’s thoughts and opinions influence you. With Sisyphish, my first Zoetrope, so many people said it wouldn’t work. I’d talk about my idea and people would say, “if the piece is spinning that fast and is that large, it will fall apart, your idea won’t work,” these were guys I respected and looked up to and who knew their shit.
Then there were other people who sometimes I didn’t even know, who I mentioned my idea to in passing while at work, they offered ideas and ways to help. That’s the funnest thing about what I do, what I love the most about my work, is figuring out how to do it. Tons of challenges come up, that’s the funnest part, for me, is figuring out the things that seem impossible – and getting people to help and get excited about solving them. It’s inspiring.
I want to always challenge myself, or continue to come up with new challenges and figure out how to do them. When you see through a problem or challenge and solve it, or even don’t solve it but come along a new way to approach it, you become inspired and confident.
Eternal Return, my most recent piece, has 28 bodies flying through the air – I thought, “how the hell do get them in the right position to animate them, how do we attach them so they don’t fall, how do I make them the right shape?” It is scary and can seem impossible, so you surround yourself with the right people. Yes, you need talented people but I think you need positive, enthusiastic people more. That’s not something you can learn, enthusiasm, but it’s contagious and it’s inspiring.
Additional note: Peter’s nephew is running a GoFundMe to make a documentary about Peter.
We highlight different makers from our broad community to show you the faces and stories behind the projects. Meet all the amazing people featured in Maker Spotlight. Want to nominate someone, maybe even yourself? Send a note with your responses to the bolded prompts above to [email protected].