AUSTIN, Texas — A 23-year-old Austin artist can make almost anything, but his favorite thing to create is Muppets.

“I kind of like drawing cartoons and making Muppets for TV shows and puppeteering. That’s all I do,” said Sam Eiler.

You could say he carved out a niche as an artist starting when he was barely 3 years old. Literally, Eiler carved SpongeBob SquarePants into his mother’s furniture.

“Well, she kind of freaked,” he said.

Eiler took that raw talent and later started making puppet characters from the popular sketch comedy show The Muppets. He saw the popular characters on TV and liked what went on behind the scenes, and he thought, “I can to that.”

“I want to be just like Jim Henson when he started doing Kermit the Frog. It was his original character, so I was inspired watching Kermit and hearing his voice like, ‘Hi ho! Kermit the Frog here!’” Eiler said.

The other Muppets he’s made share space at Eiler’s home away from home — the SAGE Studio. SAGE stands for Supporting Artistic Growth and Entrepreneurship. It’s a place where people, like Eiler, can create art.

“Servicing artists with Down syndrome, autism and everything in between,” said SAGE co-founder Lucy Gross.

Gross started SAGE along with Katie Stahl. They wanted to make sure people with disabilities had a space in the local art scene like everyone else. 

“First and foremost, these are working artists. They just all happen to have one thing in common: intellectual and developmental disabilities. Each one is such an incredible professional talent,” said Gross.

Eiler is on the autism spectrum. His passion is puppets, whether he draws them on paper or makes them out of foam. He says he’d like to have his own TV show one day. In the meantime, however, he’s happy just being at SAGE, surrounded by all the friends he’s made, including the Muppet variety.