Old School

In recent weeks I’ve found myself knee deep in a brand new job. And, it’s a job I never even expected. I’ve been doing original color sketches of the delightful Walt Disney characters for those willing to pay the meager $35.00 bucks for a page of original art.

I guess that’s what makes this little enterprise so special. In this era of digital sketching and painting I suppose it’s somewhat unique to get one’s hands on something that is totally analog. That is, a piece of work that wasn’t done on a computer or sketched on a Cintiq Tablet. This is not to say I’m against the new technology, because I’ve always been all for moving forward and exploring new tools and techniques. However, in recent years I’ve noticed I’m feeling a certain digital fatigue in the way motion picture art and even book art is created today. It all stands to reason, of course. I came into this magical business when drawings and sketches littered the hallways and floors. I could smell the paint as I walked down the hallways of the Disney background department. You could say animation had the smell of creativity. Paint was splattered everywhere and graphite was in the air. I’m not sure why but this special creative chaos filled me with delight and I was so grateful to be working in the cartoon business.

That feeling has totally been removed from the creative process today. Even visual development, once the last remaining component of “old school” creativity is now being done digitally. Animation studios including Disney feel more like insurance companies or accounting firms. They’re just too damn neat and tidy. Where’s the chaos? Where’s the creativity? Where’s the beautiful mess I encountered when I first arrived at the Walt Disney Studio over fifty years ago? I guess perhaps that’s why friends and fans are drawn (no pun intended) to the kind of work I’ve been doing mainly for fun. I think it’s because my drawings are drawn on paper and inked with a brush. Finally, I add a bit of color much the same way my old colleague, Vance Gerry would create magic with his little water color set. It’s art from the heart - or from the gut, if you will. A rough sketch or painting has a special energy you simply don’t get from the computer or the Cintique Tablet. Sure these new digital tools are cool but as the old animators in Brad Bird’s “The Incredibles” put it - “That’s how you do it! Old school!”

I’ll admit I agree with Frank and Ollie. “There’s no school like the Old school.”