John Burton


John is a visual and theatre artist, specializing in sculpture, shadow-play, puppetry, painting and maché.

He likes designing and rigging large theatrical items, such as 6’ tall pop-up books at Walt Disney Concert Hall; 10’ and 12’ copper tubing alligators for a Cajun restaurant; a 21’ x 18’ peach made of curly wood veneer for James & the Giant Peach; and a 10’ “Waiting for Godot” multi-piece tree hung as a mobile.

John also likes sculpting and fabricating small theatrical things, such as ½” hand-cut shadow puppet pieces; wire mobiles made of recycled shirt hangers; and “spirit people,” effigies crafted of found objects and sacred remnants of an actor’s actual wardrobe.

John’s puppet portfolio includes shadow, rod, hand, and Bunraku-style. His shadow design for Tim Robbins’ “Break the Whip” utilized over 12 actor/puppeteers to recount creation mythology from African, Algonquin and English cultures. Also with Mr. Robbins’ company, John designed and fabricated all puppetry for their adaptation of “Gullivers’ Travels,” as well as a 14-piece, 9’ wide Millenium Falcon puppet for last summer’s Shakespeare mash-up of “The Tempest: Star Wars Edition.”

John built a custom 20,000 peg LiteBrite® podium and backdrop for L.A. Stage Alliance’s Ovation Awards,….and an award-winning food display for a soon-to-air competition show on a major cable network. He recently returned from Texas where he installed life-size marionettes of Don Quixote & Sancho Panza, and followed it by designing the winning display for a major competition show on The Food Network.

To close out 2012, he designed/built puppets for Steve Yockey’s “The Fisherman’s Wife” at Ensemble Studio Theatre in Los Angeles, as well as three 8’-17’ puppets (managing a team of 5 puppeteers) for famed international musician Richard Thompson’s “Cabaret of Souls” at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

To kick off 2013, he built a pneumatic blood rig to create a gory gunshot effect, and split mannequins apart, filling them with poetry and literature for a surprising reveal in Ghost Road's "The Bargain and the Butterfly."

From his 4000 sq.ft. studio, Pop Goes the Easel, John perpetually turns out scenic, prop, puppet and shadow design. He also works in constant collaboration with his colleagues on the east coast at LIV Design, a leading design and fabrication firm in New York. He is the resident designer for Turning Point School and an associate designer for The Actors’ Gang, Ghost Road Company, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Rogue Artists Ensemble, Orphean Circus, Santa Monica Rep, and Son of Semele Theatre.

He has contributed design work to 70+ shows in Los Angeles over the past 14 years.


  • Sculpture
  • Large-Scale Installations
  • Retail Display
  • Puppetry and Shadow Design
  • Masks
  • Scenic Design
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Papier-Maché
  • Operations Management


  • Rigging
  • Power Tools
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Improvisation
  • Collaboration
  • Customer Service
  • Artful Packaging