EYVIND EARLE explained how he found the style for disney’s SLEEPING BEAUTY, a combination of medieval gothic art with persian miniatures mixed with his own vision. it is very interesting to look at the different animated films of the past and analyze their style development. their designers were of course influenced by the different arts of their time, some had their own style and used it for the look of the films they worked on. but a few of these artists wanted to create a style that fit the story and the culture where it took place. naturally they used elements of existing arts from these cultures and mixed them with interesting other ingredients. it shows that most of them had a good knowledge of art in general, a lot did some extensive research.
the disney studio had for that reason a huge library that still exists, the WDI research library. I spent hours there and found copies of all existing art- and design-magazines from their first edition on from all over the world. tall shelves filled with the swiss GRAPHIS magazines, the english PUNCH, the german NOVUM, all NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC editions, the american old LIFE magazine, specialized magazines about painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, fashion. then in a different room the vast collection of reference books, thousands! there was even a ‘cut-out’-archives, personal collections of artists who gave them to the library. it was like being in heaven! you could spend hours. and going through the books you could find the disney-designers names with the dates when they borrowed the books from the library. when I visited the library I was usually alone, not too many artists used the chance and the offer of all these treasures.
it is easier today to get some of that information through the internet, but – you have to know what you are looking for. to give you some ideas I chose as a start one theme – TREES – and followed their very different styling through the arts. in the compilation below I mixed very different films from different studios and from different years to show the incredible variety of styles. in the next posts I will analyze where some of these looks were borrowed from.
© disney enterprises, inc • richard williams animation • miyazaki • UPA