Friday, July 17, 2015

A Celebration of Disney Concept Art

Although I normally use my blog to showcase my own work, I thought I would take some time to show one of the biggest inspirations in my artistic life. As most people who know me know, I have a great love for all things Disney (some might say obsession).

July 17, 2015 is a big day for Disneyland; it's the 60th anniversary! On this date, Walt Disney opened up one of the first modern theme parks, changing the way millions of people were entertained. Behind all of the rides and attractions, there has been an army of artists and engineers, called Imagineers, who have come up with the ideas. So this post is a celebration of those artists, who in turn have given me and many others, a lot of inspiration.

On his television show, appropriately named Disneyland, Walt introduced the country to his dream

Concept art for the original Snow White's Scary Adventures

Pirates of the Caribbean concept art is some of the most imaginative of the old concept art

Original designs by Herb Ryman of Sleeping Beauty's Castle

The Haunted Mansion is a wonderful mix of the macabre and the absurd. This example, done by Rolly Crump, is an example of the absurd.

A lesser known piece of concept art (because the attraction never materialized). Rock Candy Mountain (artist me) was supposed be made out of actual candy. Can't imagine why this never materialized.

I have a love-hate relationship with Pirates. I love the concept art, regardless. Marc Davis did some of the best work, including the designs for the bride auction. Say it with me "We wants the redhead!"

John Hench was (is) an amazing designer for Disney. 

Moving a little bit past early Disney art - Sam McKim's concept art for Splash Mountain
Main Street Station

Mary Blair deviated from the traditional way of doing concept art and instead embraced her own wonderfully unique style for "it's a small world".
World of Color is one of the most beautiful shows ever produced by Disneyland, and its concept art is also some of the most beautiful

Finally, we come to the most recent piece of my favorite concept art. When California Adventures got remodeled, the entrance plaza was remodeled to look like 1920s Hollywood. The Cathay Circle Theater was where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Why do I love Disneyland's concept art? I guess because it inspires me to push my work to this level. In one sketch, people like Marc Davis, John Hench, Rolly Crump, and others took an idea and said, this is what it would look like. Having seen some pieces of concept art up close and in person, I can say they absolutely take my breath away.

So, congratulations to Disneyland on 60 great years. Here's to Walt Disney for making his dreams a reality, and here's to the wonderful artistians, engineers, craftsman, the Imagineers, who are the real heart and soul of WED and Walt Disney Imagineering.

What are some of your favorite pieces of Disneyland (or DisneyWorld) concept art?


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  2. Thank you for this inspirational post! I haven't seen many concept art
    pieces, but World of Color and Toontown are my current favorites. Looking
    at this makes me realize I need to get my butt to Disneyland. Haven't been
    there in 15+ years.

    1. I'm so glad you like the post! Disneyland has changed a lot in the last few years so I'd defintely recommend going back to see all their new stuff!