Today it’s hard to find a 3-year old who doesn’t know Blippi! In 2014, Stevin John created the character of Blippi to teach children in a fun and innovative way. Clad in his iconic blue and orange outfit, he continues to educate over 20 million combined YouTube subscribers as he makes learning fun! We are excited to share our interview with this YouTube sensation. Learn more about Stevin John in his own words below.
I started Blippi in 2014. I was doing some brainstorming about the character when I noticed my 2-year-old nephew watching YouTube videos about tractors. He loved tractors. The videos were just background music and B-roll [supplemental] footage. It got me thinking . . . why don’t I create a show for kids like my nephew who love things like tractors, construction vehicles, fire trucks, garbage trucks, animals, and so on, while incorporating learning into it. From there I started looking into the science of colors. I brainstormed about 700 to 800 names for the show and started narrowing it down based on trademark, copyright, and domain availability. Next I started drawing up different wardrobe options.
Not as often as you would think. First off, I have never been recognized by a child when I’m in my normal clothes; it’s always a parent of a fan. Typically, they are Instagram followers of my personal account. The parents are always super ecstatic, and some have a hard time controlling themselves.
When parents tell their children that I play Blippi, some children are okay with that, but on the other hand, most tend to be a bit confused! It happens about once every two weeks or so. It’s very nice that Blippi is a character and wears an outfit, but when I’m in character it is extremely difficult to film at public locations like zoos, playgrounds, aquariums, and similar places. If every child wants a picture and an autograph, it’s hard to get things done, which is why I budget time into every shooting day’s schedule so that every child will definitely get them.
When kids meet Blippi, it’s definitely an amazing time. Children have all types of reactions. Most children run up and want a hug, or a high five. I always enjoy hearing about their favorite videos. Some children have told me to listen to them—as if they talk to the TV and I’m not listening. Children’s imaginations are so rad! I remember always doing this as a child. On the other hand, some children are super shy, some even cry . . . like how some do at Disneyland. The parents always apologize and they promise me that their child is my biggest fan. I always tell them not to apologize and say that all children are different with their emotions in such an intense moment of their young lives.
Ohh, this is a hard question! Many videos have been so cool to make. I love getting to go behind the scenes . . . say above aquariums, in the cages at zoos feeding animals, or even at some fun jobs in factories to see how they flash freeze raspberries, or how to clean apples after they have been picked on the farm. One crazy video I filmed was with the LAPD Helicopter Department. In the final video it just looks like I went on a “fun helicopter tour ride” because we didn’t want children to see what we were actually doing. I was in that helicopter for two hours on an actual helicopter work shift. It was two hours of going to the most high-risk police calls, and almost all of them dealt with suspects who always had guns. It was crazy! It made me realize how dangerous being a police officer is. I cannot give enough thanks to every law enforcement person out there after that day!
There are a few out there, but there is one we are working on right now, which isn’t fully approved yet. I have ALWAYS wanted to ride in a fighter jet! I have always wanted to fly in one! I feel I could definitely make some children laugh with that one. We have been in conversations with one of the branches of our military to make this happen! Fingers crossed! I also wouldn’t mind doing the zero-gravity flight—I think it’s called the Vomit Comet or something like that . . . ha-ha, and it would be a perfect video for Blippi to teach about gravity. Also, I know this might be a stretch, but maybe someday going into outer space. Technology is advancing pretty quickly, so maybe commercial flights will be available in the near future. Or maybe NASA or SpaceX will want to send Blippi out there to inspire children about space. 😛
I believe shows rather than characters have played a big role in creating Blippi. There are many shows out there that I have pulled things from for many reasons. Say, for example, How It’s Made—not for toddlers per se—but I love how they show how things are made and the behind-the-scenes process, I loved that as a child! Also, even Mike Rowe’s show about Dirty Jobs, I definitely feel like that played a role in my brainstorming on Blippi. Or say Yo Gabba Gabba! for how fun and weird that show was, although I never watched it as a child, I would watch my niece watch it. I loved how Steve on Blue’s Clues really made me feel like he was talking to me, which I try to portray in Blippi. Loved Mr. Rogers obviously! As a child, I loved all the animated Nickelodeon shows for their simple visual humor—shows like Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy, SpongeBob SquarePants, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, The Angry Beavers, Doug, CatDog, Rocko’s Modern Life. As you can see, not all my role models and inspirations were for toddlers, but I feel like that makes what I’m doing more authentic. I created something that I wanted to do and that kids like me, when I was a child, and kids like my nephew would like—not what the industry is saying to do.
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