With all the Father’s Day gift guides out there, I thought it was time to create a Father’s Day gift guide specific to animation and film. Dads love movies and cartoons, so we’ve curated a collection of fun images of superlative cartoon dads and great characters the whole family will love.
Pulling those images together got me thinking about some of my favorite dads in cartoon and film. Some are decidedly dysfunctional, while others set the bar very, very high. Not all are dads in DNA, but all help shape those in their care, for better or worse. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Bob Parr aka Mr. Incredible
In the Operation Kronos database, Mr. Incredible is given the threat rating of 9.1, the highest of all the supers, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a beleaguered dad just trying to get through the day without one of his kids burning the house down or another disappearing into an existential crisis from which there is no recovery. He shows great respect for his wife and partner Helen, stepping up when she gets chosen as the face of the superhero legalization campaign. Bob is voiced by Craig T Nelson, who has played a number of classic dads in film and TV, including Steve Freeling in 1982’s Poltergeist and Zeek Braverman in the small screen version of Parenthood.
Goofy and Pluto
In various spots on the internet (including official Disney sites!) it says Goofy is the only one of the fab five, which includes Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto, to have a son, but that’s not true. Pluto and Fifi have puppies in 1937’s Pluto’s Quin-puplets. This very sweet and pup-tastic short shows a dad who isn’t quite up to the task of watching his little ones, but what parent with 5 babies wouldn’t find wrangling them a challenge?
Goofy, on the other hand, has a long and storied relationship with his son Max, who first appeared as ‘Goofy Jr’ in 1952 in Fathers are People. Imagine one of those ‘How To’ shorts like How to Ski or How to Have an Accident at Work that starred Goofy, but call it ‘How to Father’. It’s a spoof on the many classic live action shorts that capture life in the 50s. They couldn’t seem to decide on the name for Goofy’s son, calling him George in 1953’s Father’s Day Off (This short is the one time Jr/George/Max is voiced by voice artist extraordinaire June Foray). Max finally became a permanent name for Goofy’s son in Goof Troop. Max has his dad’s laugh and is as often as accident prone as Goofy. What’s special about Goofy’s fatherhood is we see an arc in which he and Max deal with father/son issues and grow from them.
Bruce Wayne appears to have been a busy guy in terms of building family, and it’s no wonder after the losses of his childhood. Is he a great role model? Probably not, but he definitely has a strong work ethic, and even as a vigilante he does have an unbendable moral code. What skills as a father he does possess are probably from Alfred, who is not only his butler, but a genius and father figure. There’s a long list of adopted kids in Wayne’s history. First is Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, who arguably surpassed his mentor/adopted father in skill and positive public perception. Jason Todd, aka Robin and Red Hood, became Wayne’s second son after he met the street kid trying to steal the tires off the Batmobile, but their relationship is complicated. Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, is also adopted by Wayne, after Jason Todd is killed (but before Todd is resurrected. Ahh, comics…). Wayne also has several biological children, including Damian Wayne aka Robin, and Helena Wayne, who is the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle (aka Catwoman). Whether or not Batman is a great dad, he certainly tried to show acceptance and love of a sort to many a lost child. As to whether all things Batman are great as Father’s Day presents, that depends on the dad in question. Most fathers I know would love anything from a Batman c, to a coffee cup, to the original Batmobile, which sold in 2013 for 4.2 million.
Probably the best of all cartoon dads, Mufasa (which means king in Swahili) is king of Pride Rock, and loves his son with all his lion-heart. He has a great relationship with his son Simba, teaching him how to be respectful of all things, show courage, and understand the circle of life. He also sacrifices himself to save his son. His appearance as spirit is inspirational to those who believe their lost loved ones are looking over them. It’s interesting to note that James Earl Jones, the voice of Mufasa in both the animated feature and the live-action film, also has one son, Flynn Earl Jones, who has followed in his father’s footsteps as a voice artist. You can find some of his work on Audible.
Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi
Perhaps you thought I was going to choose Darth Vader. Vader really is one of the most famous fathers in film history, and probably the best of parental cautionary tales, but I’m going another direction. I submit that Yoda and Obi Wan are better and stronger father figures to Luke, teaching him self-reliance, strength of character, courage, and the power of the force. Luke was lucky to have two masters of the force as mentors, and not all those who inspire are parents. If we could only learn and live by Yoda’s words, ‘there is no try’, the world would be better off.
Finally, my very favorite animated dads are from Finding Nemo. Crush watches over his baby boy, Squirt, but also chooses to help even random strangers, as he does with Nemo and his dad Marlin. Teacher, Australian current surfer, and all around rad dude, the 150 year old green sea turtle is all about doing good and bringing joy. That might explain why he’s voiced by Finding Nemo’s writer/director Andrew Staunton. Marlin, as neurotic, pessimistic, and overprotective a clownfish as he is, is still a great dad. His love for his son sparks a fearlessness and determination that leads to powerful change in himself, and also leads the way to his lost son. Marlin and Crush are polar opposites showing all kinds of dudes can be wonderful parents to their sons and daughters.
Another Memorial Day is here, and it’s always a good time to celebrate our brothers and sisters, both veterans and those actively in the military with Memorial Day cartoons.
At first I was going to write about the many really impressive propaganda cartoons of WW2, because I’ve always been fascinated by propaganda of all eras. The problem with propaganda cartoons is they are invariably racist to one group or other, the worst being the representation of the Japanese and Chinese. There were Japanese-American soldiers fighting in World War II who came back to find their families in internment camps. Actually, our friend and animation legend Willie Ito experienced the horrors of the Japanese internment camps, and you can hear his stories about that HERE. There is also, as far as I know, only one cartoon representing Black soldiers, released during WW2 on January 16th, 1943, which is Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, written and directed by Bob Clampett. Unfortunately it has such stereotyped characters that in April of 1943 it was protested by the NAACP, who called on Warner Bros. to withdraw it. It became one of WB’s “Censored Eleven”. I went through all eleven cartoons, and… yikes! They are a strong argument for why people of color have always needed and still need to have positive representation onscreen.
I also thought about posting some anti-war cartoons, but again, that doesn’t really highlight how lucky we are to have people in the military who have in the past or who are protecting and defending our country or standing for those around the world needing to be protected, as the military did in World War II. What’s happening right now, and how much politics enters into who we help and who we don’t, doesn’t lessen the importance and value of what the individuals who serve do.
That being said, if you DO want to watch several of the the most famous anti-war cartoons, there are three that immediately come to mind:
Peace on Earth (1939): This is an MGM cartoon directed by Hugh Harman which has become a yearly Christmas staple in my house. It is a gorgeous and poignant short which features Mel Blanc as the voice of Grandfather squirrel, and captures a post-apocalyptic world in which only animals exist. War destroys man, and the animals, inspired by a book that speaks of loving one another, rebuild the world as non-violent and peaceful. Peace on Earth was nominated for an Oscar, but lost to The Ugly Duckling.
Mickey Mouse in Vietnam(1969): Originally titled Short Subject, this underground animated short was directed by the Whitney Lee Savage, father of Adam Savage of Mythbuster fame. It’s short and sweet, coming in at a minute and ten seconds. An award winner at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen in 1970, it’s not a happy flick, but you can watch Mickey Mouse do his brief military duty below.
Graveyard of the Fireflies (1988): Although director/screenwriter Isao Takahata is an anti-war advocate, he vehemently denies his film, which is based on the 1968 short story by Akiyuki Nosaka, is anti-war. Arguably the most depressing piece of animation anyone could ever watch, (name another if you have a sadder one, by all means), the story takes place at the end of World War II, and tells of a brother and sister who die of starvation after Kobe is firebombed. Watch at your own peril, and with your anti-depressants close at hand.
For the main substance of this Memorial Day Cartoons blog, instead of writing about pure propaganda or anti-war shorts, I wanted to find cartoons that in some way celebrate or highlight the sacrifice of those in our armed forces, but also speak to the importance of supporting them and each other in hard times, such as we’ve had during the pandemic. I also wanted to include really 2 really important cartoons that literally changed the course of World War II.
With that in mind, here are some cartoons that will keep your attention and capture a moment in America you can watch in honor of Memorial Day:
Let’s start with a great featurette released in 1983 on Memorial Day as a prime-time special, and was introduced by Charles M. Schulz.
What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? (1983): If you’ve ever watched Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (1980), you know that Charlie Brown, Linus, Snoopy, Woodstock, Peppermint Patty and Marcie took a trip to France. This adventure takes place during that trip, though it isn’t mentioned in Bon Voyage. Schulz explained, “I kept thinking how interesting it would be if they should somehow get lost on this little trip and end up at Omaha Beach and envision the scenes of the famous D-Day Invasion of World War II. I even thought that they might pass through Belgium and we could show some landscapes affected by World War I, and how emotional it could be if one of the characters somehow could be made to recite the immortal poem, John McCrae‘s In Flanders Fields.”
Of course Linus does indeed recite the poem, and here’s a clip of that:
You can see the whole featurette on Daily Motion, complete with Marcie giving motorists a piece of her mind in French. It’s pretty great, especially if you’re a fan of everyone’s favorite philosopher, Linus.
Then there are two cartoons released by Disney I especially l love, one that promotes buying war bonds, and the other than asks us all to use all our brain and heart power, and not succumb to bigotry and hate when at war (or, I might add, at any time).
All Together (1942): Walt Disney created four educational and propaganda shorts in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada. They were part of an attempt to keep the studio afloat, after the outbreak of the war in Europe lost them an important market for their films. This 3-minute cartoon was released theatrically, and asked Canadians to support their troops by buying war bonds. Directed by Jack King, it features Walt himself voicing Mickey Mouse, which is the only time Mickey is in a WW2 propaganda film. It shows a parade of Disney characters including Pinocchio, Donald Duck, the Seven Dwarfs, and Pluto, carrying banners about buying bonds. The cartoon was later used in the US theaters, after it entered the war.
Reason and Emotion (1943): Nominated for an Oscar upon its release, you’ll recognize this Disney propaganda short as a major influence on Pixar’s Inside Out, as confirmed by director Pete Docter. Essentially the message is the US version of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On”. Animators Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnson worked on this cartoon, which argues it is essential to use both your head and your heart, not just your heart, or rather your emotions, lest you be manipulated by Hitler’s fear-mongering. The film is also trying to make people aware of how propaganda works, so they could better recognize it when faced with it. You can watch Reason and Emotion on Daily Motion.
Representing all the armed forces wasn’t possible, but I do have three out of four, with the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and apologies to all the Marines out there. I guess the Marines didn’t need cartoons?
The Mighty Navy (1941): Popeye’s 100th theatrical short made him an iconic member of the US Navy, and gave him the white uniform he would often wear in the future. Onboard a Navy training ship, Popeye encounters challenges, especially with the stringent rules and the complicated equipment. When the ship gets surrounded by the enemy, Popeye takes matters into his own muscled hands. In the end he is honored by being adopted as the official insignia of the Navy Bomber Squadron. Reality followed fiction in this case, as images of Popeye started being used on insignias and as nose art.
Donald Gets Drafted (1942): Released on May 1st, 1942, this famous WW2-era Donald short is a favorite among Donald fans and animation art collectors, and is the first time we hear Donald’s full name, Donald Fauntleroy Duck. The short shows Donald enthusiastically heading to the draft board after getting his draft notice, and although he wants to join the Air Force, it is the Army that takes him. After he runs the gauntlet of a number of tests during basic training, Donald winds up in a room full of potatoes with KP duty. What is most interesting about the cartoon, though, is that pacifist Carl Barks, who co-wrote the cartoon, infused it with anti-military messages. He was against the US’s involvement in the war. Barks wanted to show the difference between the reality of wartime Army experience, and the recruitment propaganda that glamorized the life and heroism of military service. Donald was a wartime star, and the most famous of his cartoons from that era, Der Fuehrer’s Face, won an Oscar.
Victory Through Air Power (1943): Based on Alexander P de Seversky’s 1942 book of the same name, this short is extremely important to the outcome of the second world war. Financed personally by Walt, the New York Times devoted a half page to pictures and captions from the film just before its release. The studio had converted itself to a propaganda machine after Pearl Harbor, and the main target of this film was to gain the attention of people in power and realign their way of thinking. It was a success in that way. It influenced both FDR and Winston Churchill in significant ways.
We can’t forget our four-legged veterans and military ‘personnel’. Dogs have been essential during both times of peace and war.
War Dogs (1943): MGM, by way of Hanna and Barbara, celebrated dogs on duty with a short that features one of the less intelligent of the pups in service. Though it does have a brief, unfortunate caricature of a Japanese soldier, the rest of the cartoon is quite sweet in how it explains, even in the midst of the comedic elements this mockumentary uses, the true value of canine recruits.
Lest you believe even a small percentage of pups are as daft as the one represented in War Dogs, I’ll leave you with a live action short released by the Department of Defense as part of the “Big Picture” series, which highlighted aspects of the armed forces. It was filmed in the 50s, and shows the uses and training of Army dogs in Korea and Germany.
That’s it for today’s blog! I’ve had World War II and wartime animation art before, and if you’re interested in this wartime cartoon art as a collector, let me know and I’ll be on the lookout for art from this historic era. Happy Memorial Day, my friends!
As part of our 40th anniversary show for It’s Magic, Charlie Brown, we are giving original drawings by Larry Leichliter that are hand-dedicated by the artist with purchases of any Peanuts art. Pick well.. it’s one drawing per family, not per piece of art purchased!
Order now, and you can choose one of these three drawings:
Snoopy and Woodstock Happy Dance:
Charlie Brown and Snoopy: Suppertime
Snoopy and Lucy: Dog Kisses
This awesome Peanuts art be hand-drawn with or without a dedication (as you prefer) by Larry Leichliter.
You might think about getting the new limited edition just released for the 40th anniversary of It’s Magic, Charlie Brown. MAGICIANS TAKE NOTE!
Leichliter’s career in animation began in 1974 when he worked on BE MY VALENTINE, CHARLIE BROWN. This was followed by numerous other Peanuts specials that he was a crew member of throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. Since then, he has worked on many animated television series, particularly those made for Nickelodeon, which includeHey Arnold!, ChalkZone, The Fairly OddParents, CatDog, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Mighty B!, and Catscratch. Leichliter more recently was a director for the Cartoon Network original series Adventure Time, for which he directed 114 episodes and the original short. Adventure Time also garnered him three Primetime Emmy Award nominations in the category “Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program” in 2010, 2011, and 2012. He is now retired and creating limited edition designs for Sopwith Productions. You can read about Larry HERE.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Peanuts animated special “It’s Magic, Charlie Brown“, which first aired on April 28th, 1981, ArtInsights is having a (virtual) special event! It will feature Peanuts cartoon animator and director Larry Leichliter.
We will have exclusive original animation art from It’s Magic, Charlie Brown as well as rare production cels and drawings from the history of Peanuts animation, and premiere the new limited edition from the Charlie Brown special!
There will be an interview with Larry Leichliter via Zoom, which will be posted on our ArtInsights YouTube channel, with links on our website, and a collection of art available for purchase, with hard-to-find scenes and art from your favorite Peanuts cartoons.
The new It’s Magic, Charlie Brown limited edition and the exclusive original production art will posted and available starting at 7pm on April 28th.
We’ll send out an email blast at 7pm EST on the 28th, so make sure you’re on our mailing list, or set your Snoopy alarm clock for 6:59pm!
If collectors are interested in particular images, they can contact the gallery via our email with inquiries. The collection will include some cels with original backgrounds, as well as rare original illustrations from the book versions of various Peanuts specials.
The limited edition will go live and be available at 7pm EST on April 28th. There are only 50 pieces in the edition, and it’s the first in a series, so you’ll want to snap it up if it grooves you, because it will only get better as the releases continue!
It’s Magic Charlie Brown tells the story of Snoopy as he finds a book of magic and becomes fascinated, learning to do tricks, which he first tests on his pal Woodstock. He then performs for the Peanuts gang, which is met with mixed results. Charlie Brown is called up to the stage, Snoopy does a magic trick that makes him disappear, which is successful. A bit too successful, it turns out, because he can’t seem to bring him back. Cue the lit sign saying “METAPHOR” above the poor guy’s ‘block’head.
The rest of the special is about Snoopy TRYING to bring Charlie Brown back, and failing that, giving him a way to be recognized as present, like caking him with mud so he can be seen. The special has a wonderfully classic scene involving Lucy and Charlie Brown and a football. No, he never ever learns. The beauty of Charlie Brown is he is an eternal optimist. I don’t want to ever see him lose his trust.
Today I’m going to discuss Pepé le Pew and the controversy around the classic cartoon character, who won an Academy Award for 1949’s For Scent-imental Reasons. a cartoon we’ll talk about in this blog. I’ll also drop the images of art available for sale representing the character, since purchases have gone through the roof, in case ‘ardent’ fans of the skunk want to add an image of him to their collection.
It all started when New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow caused a stink about Pepé le Pew saying he adds to rape culture, proving once again anyone can get attention even if they know very little about the history of animation.
“blogs are mad bc I said Pepe Le Pew added to rape culture. Let’s see. 1. He grabs/kisses a girl/stranger, repeatedly, w/o consent and against her will. 2. She struggles mightily to get away from him, but he won’t release her 3. He locks a door to prevent her from escaping.” It’s true … Penelope Pussycat was often in Pepe’s clutches.”
While some of that may be true, there’s much more to the story.
First off, and this may be a nitpick, the kitty in early Pepé cartoons wasn’t named Penelope. That name was created and retroactively applied to what the classic WB cartoons called “Le Chat” or “Le Cat” by the Warner Brothers marketing department.
Secondly, there are multiple scenes within the Pepé le Pew cartoons in which the tables are turned, and le Chat becomes the aggressor.
In fact, that occurs in the aforementioned 1949 Oscar winner, as you can see in this video that shows the beginning and end of the cartoon:
That’s not to say that aggression from either side is acceptable, it’s just that ‘Penelope Pussycat’ is still included in the next WB release, and Pepé is not.
For my own part, I saw For Scent-imental Reasons in French, which I’d have to say in retrospect is a very interesting experience. French culture has been, without question, behind the curve as it relates to consent, but to this day French women definitely shrug off inappropriate advances as par for the course, creating hard lines in the sand for anyone wanting to cross them. I have given this whole discourse serious consideration, because I am and always have been a strong proponent of consent.
The thing is, Pepé is a cartoon character. He was created in the 40s, (not an excuse) but he was modeled after Charles Boyer, who played abusive characters on more than one occasion, as well as Maurice Chevalier, who was one of the stars of a film that celebrated a teenager becoming a courtesan for a man dozens of years his senior (1958’s Gigi).
There are so many classic characters that could be retired or should at least be reevaluated, but a cartoon character, especially one created by an animator that is no longer alive to defend him, can easily be cancelled.
Since Chuck isn’t here to speak for his creation, here, from Emma Award winning producer Linda Jones, are thoughts on her father Chuck Jones and his Oscar winning creation Pepé le Pew:
From Linda Jones:
Pepe Le Pew is, I think, more than a lothario… like many of the other comedic characters, both animated and live, I think the underlying theme is one of exaggerating those characteristics we all (or those of us who are honest) recognize to some degree in ourselves. That’s much of what comedy is…. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
If the Pepe cartoons were currently being made, I would say they should and would be considered inappropriate. Whether Warner Bros. decides to shelve the cartoons, as well as the character appearing in new movies, that is a decision they have every right and responsibility to consider… These are changing times and changing mores. Pepe’s pursuit of an unattainable goal was (and still is) a well-used story line…the pursuer, the object and the venue vary, but the underlying idea is classic and will continue to be used and, perhaps, overused.
I don’t know what my father would say about this now…but I know for certain that his career was devoted, entirely and always, to entertainment…to helping us all to laugh. Many have assigned motives and messages to his films…political, societal, even religious. None of them are correct. He was an animated film director and he spent his professional life in the pursuit of entertainment.
There has been reference to these particular cartoons contributing to a “rape culture.” Does this infer that “rape” is a current or recent phenomena? Another discussion for another time, but I have a great deal of difficulty believing that anyone, anywhere was so influenced by watching Pepe Le Pew cartoons that they pursued a life of debauchery. Sorry, it just doesn’t make sense to me. However, as a life-long supporter of women’s rights, I believe it is time to re-visit the past policies, arts, norms, behaviors and make sure we are not making mistakes as we move forward.”
All this fuss has led to WB removing Pepe from all future Looney Tunes storylines and productions. Or did it? Apparently the script was already problematic as it relates to Pepé: In Space Jam: A New Legacy, ascene reportedly involved Pepe hitting on a human character played by Greice Santo and her in turn slapping him away and pouring a drink on him. Then LeBron James was meant to teach Pepe about consent. As Deadline writes, “Pepe then tells the guys that Penelope cat has filed a restraining order against him. James makes a remark in the script that Pepe can’t grab other Tunes without their consent.” There’s no question that’s unacceptable, but it’s also not in keeping with Pepé true character. I suppose if WB isn’t going to stay true to or expand Pepé, it’s better he is left to history, no?
Meanwhile, for fans of the Pepé le Pew character, here are some limited editions created by those who love his history, and you can find them all HERE.
Also, it seems worth mentioning, that a cartoon and real life often bear little to no resemblance. For example, if you think this cartoon ‘mating ritual’ is bad, you should read about the mating of both CATS (which involves teeth and pain and such) and SKUNKS (not much better, to be honest).
What do YOU think about the character being cancelled? It’s a complicated subject, to be sure. I’ve read a number of posts saying American women were uncomfortable with Pepé le Pew as children. That’s not good. I’m sure if that had been my experience, I’d be more inclined to agree with his removal. I do remember thinking I’d have smacked him hard on his little black and white nose. On the other hand, questioning what is consensual, what is crossing the line, and how to be clear about our own boundaries is something we should all learn to do, and early. Perhaps the cartoons could hold a warning, like films that include copious amounts of smoking, or, for that matter, Gone With The Wind (a film I can barely watch, as visually beautiful as it is)?
Many of our great friends who also happen to be clients have been supporting ArtInsights gallery since last March when the Covid Pandemic effectively shut down the country (or it certainly should have..), and it’s not just heartwarming but an honor for that to be the case, but we’ve been asked many times by them, by folks online, and by friends how ArtInsights and how Michael and I are faring in what must be the worst time for small business since The Great Depression. That’s almost 100 years. Bummer for us to be part of this time in the economy, but since we’ve been in small business for over 30 years, we can’t be completely shocked. The short answer is that we’re hanging in there and doing ok up to this point, and that’s not a little because of our loyal clients, old and new. I thought I’d share our experience, and how we’ve found new clients at a time when so few are spending money at brick and mortar small businesses.
First, I’ll say something I’ve said many times to friends and clients. Very very few people get into owning and running an art gallery expecting to make a living at it. Even in the world of animation (and I’d say film art, but there are so few of us out there, there’s nothing to compare us to) nearly all the galleries are owned by people who don’t need to make money. Mostly it’s something people who don’t have to work and come from a trust fund or a family with money do because it seems like fun, or charming…or maybe a place to drink wine and chat? We are not those people. We can’t really afford to make many mistakes, at least not big ones. For example, the one time I misunderstood how advertising on YouTube worked and spent $800 in one week, I barely slept for days. (Lesson learned there!) Our time is our currency, and that’s what we spend instead of a big budget for advertising and marketing. We’ve had to learn how to do things ourselves. That includes what art we offer here in the gallery.
Our focus has been film art and animation for the 25+ years we’ve been in Reston Town Center. We have had to, during that time, shift and change with what we see in the marketplace. Here are a few examples:
We noticed about 20 years ago there was a lot of restored animation art showing up at auction, so we started trying to only represent production art that was in original condition.
When Disney kept switching the companies they had representing their art, stopped selling production art, and started only selling ‘Interpretive Disney Art’, we started focusing on the artists that actually worked for Disney, rather than those randomly chosen for their style. We have amplified Michelle St. Laurent (art directed for Disney production designer at the theme parks) , Tim Rogerson (graphic designer for the theme parks), Toby Bluth (art director for The Tigger Movie, etc), Lorelay Bove (visual development/concept artist at Pixar), Peter and Harrison Ellenshaw (Oscar winning matte background painter and special effects artists, respectively), James Coleman (background artist for many Disney films, including The Little Mermaid) Jim Salvati (concept artists for multiple studios), Bill Silvers (concept and background artist for multiple studios, worked on Lilo & Stitch & a bunch of other Disney movies) and John Alvin (movie poster artist who worked on over 250 posters, created Lion King, The Little Mermaid, & Aladdin posters for Disney).
When artists who had spent a large part of their careers at Hanna Barbera and Warner Brothers started selling their art, we started commissioning art from them, (other galleries followed suit, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and more commissions mean more money for these wonderful people!), so we have exclusive art by Bob Singer and Willie Ito.
When artists went out on their own or approached Disney directly to sell their art, we found ways to amplify and represent their work, leading to exclusive art from them, so we have art from Bill Silvers you can only get at ArtInsights.
When auctions started selling more and more animation art that had been restored, we carried less animation art, but focused on more exclusive, rarer images like key set-ups and concept art.
We saw that Warner Brothers, Disney, and Hanna Barbera limited editions were being overproduced, so we limited our inventory of them, guiding our clients to original art and only the most iconic limited editions, and only when the price was right.
We’ve had a good internet presence since the beginning of our business. Let me tell you, that’s been interesting. Anyone who had to have a good website that represents original art but couldn’t spend $10,000 on creating it had quite a time in the 1990s. What that meant was doing a lot of blogging and a lot of updating ourselves. We’ve also had about 10 completely new websites over the years. That got us used to adding inventory and writing about animation and film art. You know that website Marvel designed as a cool way to center the story in 1994? Our website looked almost exactly like that:
It’s the fact that we always focused as much on our website and selling online as we did in the brick and mortar store that has, in part, saved us during the pandemic. We literally see nearly no one that isn’t a longterm client or ours, or someone who has searched us out online right now in the gallery. (at the moment, I’m quite glad of that, because I don’t want some random, vaguely interested lookie-loo giving me and mine Covid)
We have had to use Facebook, twitter, and Instagram (free, not paid) to get our message out as well. That worked better before they made it impossible for anyone to see posts without paying for them. Occasionally we still make a sale through social media, but it’s not usually from someone just seeing a post. It’s mostly from being part of secret groups. Facebook and all the other social media sites should have offered free advertising and marketing to small businesses during the pandemic. They said they were going to, but I never saw any proof that it actually happened…this has been a problem for small businesses since 2016, when political pages and advertising took over Facebook et al.
So, how have we found ways to be ok through Covid in 2020? It really started with my ability to write (see my work on: TheCredits, and The Alliance of Women Film Journalists) and my concern for other folks who were FREAKING out about their loved ones or themselves dying of a horrible virus. Early in the pandemic, we shut the gallery to in-person visits. I tried to think what I could do to help people feel better, and how I could help artists and wholesale companies I wanted to support. Since I’ve been in the animation and film art business for longer than most folks, I figured I could write about what I knew, and I could interview artists and figures in animation that might distract and entertain. I talked to Bob Singer, (and got exclusive original Hanna Barbera art directly from him) Talked to Don Cameron about his work on Batman: The Animated Series
As to my dear friend John Alvin, I wrote about his work on Hook, in part because *MIRACLE of MIRACLES!* Andrea Alvin found 5 copies of a production used image from the film used for the opening sequence from the film. We sold them all as a result of the blog, but you can always check with me to see if she finds any others.
Andrea Alvin’s closets are like the door to Narnia. She keeps finding things and calling me with exciting news. I keep hoping she’ll discover more production art used for Blade Runner or some such, but that’s just a dream I have (that also includes electric sheep..).
I also wrote a blog about the art from Cats Don’t Dance, from which we found two original backgrounds. John Alvin did the movie poster for that movie. I had no idea there was such an obsessive fanbase for art and information from Cats Don’t Dance. I had never watched it, and once I did, I had a better idea why so many people love it, especially dancers.
I had a wonderful chat with Ruth Clampett, the daughter of Bob Clampett, about Bob’s tv show Beanie and Cecil, and got some exclusive art from the original cartoon. That blog was a big hit, and we sold most of the art we got from the Clampett estate because of it. I can tell you Beany & Cecil fans are the best! After all these years, they still just love those quirky characters!
Sopwith Productions, the company that sells all the art from the Bill Melendez Studios, is my absolute favorite wholesale company. They are always willing to connect me with animators and artists for interviews, and that makes me, and the Charlie Brown TV animated specials and Peanuts art collectors so happy!
It was through them that I got the art from the MetLife commercial featuring all the Peanuts characters together as an orchestra. They are some of the most beautiful cels I’ve ever seen, and since Snoopy is my favorite character and I grew up watching Charlie Brown cartoons, I loved learning about why these cels are so gorgeous. Bill Melendez got paid the same amount for a 15-30 second commercial as he did for making a 30 minute Peanuts cartoon special! I talk about this in my Beethoven’s 250th Birthday Peanuts animation blog.
Early on, I included something called the “COVID COMFORT CARTOON” or “COVID COMFORT CLIP” at the end of every blog, which was just a clip relating to a cartoon or film mentioned. It was fun finding something appropriate. I think my favorite was the one with the Hex Girls, a fictitious band first featured in Scooby Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost. In the late 90s when the band was introduced, it became a cult favorite for kids first exploring their sexuality, because there’s some androgyny and queerness afoot there, something you didn’t see in cartoons at the time.
I found that sometimes the links I added went bad, depending on who uploaded it in the first place, so I got choosier and more specific about what I included in the blogs. I have also always included some Covid Comfort in my newsletters, which started out weekly at the beginning of the pandemic, and have been shifted to bi-weekly (because the blogs take so much time to research and because I’m often adding a lot of art to the site before each newsletter…)
One of the other things ArtInsights has been doing through the Covid pandemic is incorporating charity connections in much of our sales. Early on, we gave 10% of all sales of anything hero-related to charities helping get PPE and safety support for frontline workers. We also started donating 10% of all sales of Harry Potter art to the National Center for Transgender Equality. That commitment will continue until we have sold all Harry Potter art currently in stock, and we won’t be ordering any more after we sell them through. We feel too strongly about supporting our trans brothers and sister to put any more money into JKR’s pockets, even as we still hold Harry Potter dear to our hearts and always will.
I’m sure you have seen our posts and promos about a partnership with our friend Julie, who makes masks over on Etsy at Joyful Creations by J. For folks who have been able to come by the gallery, you could and still can buy masks at the store, but all the money goes to Julie, who worked at a job that was too dangerous for her, being in a high-risk family, and now makes masks and creates clothing through her Etsy store. We started doing that in March, back when more folks were mask-adverse. (Gratefully most sane folks are wearing them now.)
All these blogs, COVID COMFORT CARTOONS, working with Julie, connecting with charity, having exclusive art you can only get through my gallery and posting about all of it on social media led way way more folks to find us online, which led to more clients and more sales.
Is it more work? Yes. It is way more work. Michael and I have never been afraid of work. If you’re someone who is in small business, especially with ArtInsights, an art gallery that has to make enough money to support a family, you can’t be afraid of hard work and long hours. But I also believe we have been succeeding because I started out the pandemic just wanting to soothe and comfort our friends and clients and anyone else who might find us. I also wanted the gallery’s success to extend to artists and companies we know and love. Never let anyone tell you that doing well and doing good can’t go hand in hand.
What do I think 2021 will bring to ArtInsights? I honestly have no idea. I hope I can find more interesting things to write about that relate to the art we sell and the artists we love and want to support. I know we’ll have a very low profile in terms of the physical gallery until the current virulent and terrifying wave of the virus is quelled. We’ll be focused online, where we can all gather and interact safely. Does it sting a little we are paying so much to be in a nice center when we aren’t many clients? Maybe a bit. But its also lovely that we are in an outside mall, where shoppers feel safer, and lovelier still that we can control our retail environment so that those who ARE high risk feel safe coming for a physical visit. We will be there, masked up, door open for ventilation, pens and door knobs wiped down, just like I’d want it in my favorite stores.
At ArtInsights, we feel incredibly grateful with all the small businesses closing down that we have, so far, found a way to survive. Hopefully our way will continue to keep us open, safe, and stable until we all see better days. With clients like you, we stand a very good chance.
What can you do to help? You can buy some art from our gallery! One of the ways we’ve stayed viable and on the radar of collectors is that we have so much art you can’t get anywhere else. From Bill Silvers artist proofs, to limited edition and original art by John Alvin, to exclusive collections of original art featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and friends, we have some special pieces that you won’t see anywhere else.
Please go through our website and find some treasures for you family and/or to liven up the living space you’ll be working in and experiencing for the near future. Click here to see our latest acquisitions.
Thanks to all of you, old clients, new clients, potential clients…you are why we are still here and why we will be here in the future. You are the only reason, really. THANKS.
In the tradition of 2020/2021, I’ll end this blog with Covid Comfort Clips: Seems like a great idea to show the trailers to 3 great animated features released this year, all of which deserve at the very least to be nominated for an Oscar:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year? Ok, well in 2020, it stands to reason that the end is the most wonderful time, right? Still, even with the challenges and stress of a pandemic, an election, strife, and not nearly enough films watched in theaters to make up for it, we’re finding ways to show our loved ones we care, to share our joy with family and friends, and to find ways to come together, even if it’s via FaceTime, Zoom, or 15 feet away as the 40 degree winds blow. We find a way. And the holidays means it’s time for the ArtInsights Holiday Gift Guide!
The holidays are still coming, and we could all use a little fun and frivolity, and maybe a little help gifting from afar, and this year, folks are searching for that special gift that brings peace, distraction, brings a smile, and says “every little thing is going to be all right”.
For many who follow ArtInsights, the perfect present might come in the form of film and cartoon art, so we’re here to help. We have gifts in a wide variety of price ranges, from your favorite films, featuring your favorite characters. Maybe your dad loves Yoda. Your Mom might be a Potterhead. Your kids might be into Batman or Captain America or Elsa. Whatever it is, we’ve got you.
First up, here is a collection of art ready to ship and in stock to give you ideas and solve the quest to find gifts for folks in your life who are the pickiest, or hardest-to-find-gifts-for, or already-have-everything.
And in your very own galaxy, we have Star Wars art. We’ve got art created by artists who worked on the films, all of which are exclusive or from sold out editions. Click on the image to see all our Star Wars images.
A STAR WARS HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
How about a little Harry Potter? Do you believe in magic? We could all use a little right about now. Let the power of Potter put a spell on the wizards and witches in your life. 10% all sales goes to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
A HARRY POTTER HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
The folks who release all things Charlie Brown and Peanuts have offered us some wonderful pieces this year, and if you and yours love Snoopy, Woodstock and all the Peanuts characters, we have lots of sold out and exclusive art you can only get through ArtInsights. From the Christmas to Halloween to Thanksgiving specials, you’ll find all sort of heartwarming images, and at a variety of prices to fit the budget.
A CHARLIE BROWN AND PEANUTS HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
As you may know, we’ve been working with famed Hanna Barbera character and layout artist Bob Singer. Bob is in his mid-90s, and still quite a hoot. We have some great original art by him for those who love original art of classic animation, including Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, Top Cat, and more.
A HANNA BARBERA HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: Scooby-Doo, Flintstones, Yogi Bear, and more, all by Bob Singer
Did you know November 13th is the 80th anniversary of the release of Fantasia? The evocative beauty of this classic Disney animated feature has yet to be matched or surpassed. We have art that stirs the art and music inside, and many of our available pieces are both well-priced and from sold out limited editions. Once a fan of Fantasia, always a fan of Fantasia!
A FANTASIA HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
There’s always room on the wall for another Alex Ross image. What? You don’t have any? How about your blossoming comic book artist daughter or son, or the partner you always suspect is only pretending not to be a superhero? Check out all our Alex Ross artist’s proofs, exclusives, and pieces from sold out editions. You’re sure to find something for your batcave or fortress of solitude.
A MARVEL AND DC HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: featuring Alex Ross
As ever, we love working with our friend Bill Silvers to offer our clients exclusive Disney and Star Wars limited editions. You can find beautiful images of your favorite Disney princesses, villains, and magical beasts on the Bill Silvers page on our website.
WILLIAM SILVERS DISNEY ART HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
And in case none of that is resonating, maybe just checking out some of our Disney original and limited edition art. We have 101 Dalmatians, Beauty and the Beast, rare original drawings of Mickey Mouse and the Fab Five, and more! SEE IT ALL HERE.
ANDDON’T FORGET YOUR MASK!
Lastly, if you’re looking for stocking stuffers that are both practical and festive, we have partnered with our friend Julie to offer ‘MOVIE MAGIC’ masks, which you can buy directly from her for $12.00 each. There are lots to choose from, including Dr. Who, Wonder Woman, Winnie the Pooh, Nightmare Before Christmas, Star Trek, Snoopy, and so many more.
and if you’re nearby and plan on stopping into the gallery, we have lots of her masks here for you to pick up in person.
We are ArtInsights wish you safety and good health now and into the new year, as well as peace and love shared with family and friends. You are never truly alone. If you find it hard this season, remember to reach out. A little bit of joy and comfort is always just a phone call, a Zoom, or a FaceTime away.
Thanks to you all for your support of our gallery. All the best to you!
As sometimes happens, there’s been a surprise release by the folks at the studio that produces all the Charlie Brown cartoon specials. Even though it precedes Halloween, it’s a celebration of the fan favorite and ultimate mood stabilizer, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Called “Let it Whip, Snoopy”, it captures the opening sequence of the wonderful winter skating scene, and comes with a great storyboard giclee created and signed by Charlie Brown animated specials director and animator Larry Leichliter. Here is the limited edition set:
Here is the trailer for the cartoon, which shows a tiny snippet of the sequence used for the limited edition… (although, let’s be honest, we ALL remember the scene, right?)
In honor of the release of “Crack the Whip, Snoopy!” release, let’s talk a bit about A Charlie Brown Christmas.
First off, of course there would be no Peanuts animated specials at all without Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez. Lee Mendelson was the executive producer of many Peanuts specials, but he started out his association with all things Peanuts by approaching Charles Schulz about making a documentary about him and his Peanuts comic strip. He had just done a doc on Willie Mays called A Man Named Mays:
Charles Schulz, or ‘Sparky’, as his friends called him, had watched and enjoyed it, so they collaborated on the documentary A Boy Named Charlie Brown in 1963. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola approached Mendelson about producing an animated Christmas special for tv, and he immediately called Sparky about creating something featuring the Peanuts characters. Schulz suggested using Bill Melendez, who had worked with Sparky creating some Peanuts Ford Motor Company commercials. Networks weren’t interested in the special.
Then, in April of 1965, the Peanuts characters graced the cover of Time magazine, which increased interest in an animated special, and the clock started ticking. Mendelson and Schulz created an outline for a special in less than a day.
They created the first and most classic cartoon in only 6 months, with the script having been whipped together in only a few weeks. and it aired on December 9th, 1965. Schulz built the idea around ‘the meaning of Christmas’, interspersed with scenes of skating, something he did as a child. He also included a substantive scene in which a bible verse is quoted, and though there were a few specials that specifically mentioned Christianity, this was the first animated cartoon to incorporate religion in its plot and structure.
It won both an Emmy and Peabody Award. It got both high ratings and critical acclaim. Lee Mendelson actually wrote the lyrics to the Christmas classic ‘Christmastime is Here’ in only minutes.
It is so fitting that Mendelson wrote such an enduring Christmas classic, as, in a bittersweet endnote, Lee just died on Christmas Day of 2019. I interviewed him about his work a few years ago, and you can watch him talk about all this himself (and watch me all excited talking to him!):
The cartoon was anything but ordinary. They did a lot of ‘outside the box’ decisions as part of it, like hiring voice actors that were children, having no laugh track (Schulz’s idea), and using jazz as the soundtrack. It seems to all make sense now, since we’ve seen it so many times (it has played every year at Christmas since 1965) but at the time everyone thought it would fail miserably.
I talked to Bill Melendez’s son Steve about working on the Christmas special, and he relates how he came up with the scene with Linus sharing the message of Christmas onstage.
Since Larry Leichliter is responsible for the design of the new limited edition as well as the storyboard that accompanies it, I asked him about his love of the Christmas special, and about creating the storyboard.
What makes “A Charlie Brown Christmas” special to you?
Larry: “First of all It’s a Christmas cartoon. Not that I love every Christmas cartoon, but it’s Peanuts, and I’ve always loved Peanuts. What makes it special and have such longevity is not the nostalgia of remembering being a kid and watching this show for the first time, although that’s a wonderful memory. I think for all of us, It’s a story that forever rings true.
I love watching Charlie Brown wrestle with his problem, with the help of his friend Linus. His encounters with the realities of the world and its insensitivity to his plight are tragic and funny and he makes me root for him every time. Then there is Linus, who sticks by him like a true friend. He ultimately always shows him the way to his answer and a release from his problem.”
Who is your favorite character in Peanuts?
“Linus has always been my favorite Peanuts character. The combination of his vulnerability (he is a thumb-sucking, blanket-hugging child, after all) and his knowledge and philosophical beyond-his-years personality is irresistible. He is Charlie Brown’s truest friend. Even Snoopy isn’t as loyal.”
How did you compose the storyboard, and what do you love about creating them? it really captures a moment fans love from the cartoon.
“Thanks! I love showing some of the “behind the scenes” elements of making cartoons. In this case, I couldn’t decide right away just what moment of the skating scene would be ideal for our project, so it was suggested that I might pose out the “crack the whip” sequence in a story board. Then it was just a matter of showing the characters adding onto the chain until they all inevitably fly off. I think it captures not only the nostalgia, but also what is funny and charming about the special as a whole.”
If you want to get a sense of Larry and his great career, you can watch my discussion with him and Sandy Thome, head of art development for all things relating to Charlie Brown animated cartoons. Beyond being incredibly talented, he’s quite shy, and a lovely guy.
We have other Peanuts animation art, and of course, we can always find cels based on what you’re looking for (though, not from the Christmas special, not anymore!) check out what we have right now HERE, and contact us for special requests.
We are selling cartoon and film art masks. Why? Because we are 100% in on wearing them and 100% in on supplying the most awesome ones we can, to inspire people to wear them.
As a small business owner, I’ve been impacted by the shutdown, to be sure. Not only were all the stores in my center shut for more than two months, the fear and dread shared by the whole world made sales difficult. Although apparently there are some people who still don’t know someone who has either gotten very sick or died from COVID, people in the service and retail industries will tell you, we all know someone. So, as someone in retail, it has been difficult. Even so, I supported staying at home for everyone. I would do the same thing again, and indeed may do the same thing again if the record numbers of infection happening in places like Texas reach to Virginia.
As a small business owner, I also get to know many of my clients. We’ve been in business for over 27 years. Some of my clients have become close friends. I don’t want to see those friends sick or suffering through the loss of family members, and I certainly don’t want to be the one that spreads the disease to them and those they love. I also, as a gallery owner of film and animation art, have a number of older and high risk clients. Perhaps it’s because, for example, if someone has MS or very bad asthma, they are more likely, as they stay inside to find fascination in film.
Those are all very good reasons for me to pay attention to what’s happening with research, and to follow as many guidelines that will keep both me and clients safe. That includes wearing masks.
There are so many magic-filled, fantastical films and stories we in the US watch and read. Imagination has always been one of the seeds of our best classic and contemporary cinema. I didn’t think that meant, however, that there wasn’t also room for science and common sense. There are many studies by respected experts that have shown wearing a mask makes a difference in the spread of COVID-19. There’s the article on the MAYO CLINIC WEBSITE about why masks protect us. There’s also an article in which Dr. Steven Gordon, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Infectious Disease and pulmonologist Read Dweik, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute, explain the science around why wearing a mask is important. Of course, as they say, masks need to be used in conjunction with social distancing to be most effective. Because so little testing is done, we have no idea how many people are wandering around spreading the disease. I want them covered, so I don’t get sick, and I want to be covered so I don’t spread it to anyone else. Do you know how many people discovered quite accidentally they had COVID? D.L Hughley is just one example.
I could list articles all day explaining and proving that efficacy all day.
I’m no doctor, but It seems pretty simple to understand that if someone is coughing and sneezing into a mask instead of into the air, the mask will catch a lot of that before it gets to anyone else. It’s not a complicated concept. The point is, if you want to go out into the world and go shopping, or out to eat, or spend time with someone, you wear a mask in case you have the virus and don’t know it. So I, as a business owner, wear a mask. I wear it out of respect for my clients, friends, and all our loved ones. I also wear it because maybe it will help us all get back on our economic feet while saving lives.
With that in mind, I contacted my childhood friend Julie, who is making lovely, very well-designed masks, and asked her if she could make them for me to sell in the gallery. Julie had been working as a driver for UPS, but because she has some high-risk folks in her inner circle, she had to stop so she wouldn’t put them at risk. Making masks is her new way of breadwinning. I’m so happy to partner with her! These aren’t just any badly made, cursory bit of flimsy fabric. Her masks have adjustable ear straps and filter pockets. They are swank!
I have been wanting face coverings that represented some of my favorite movies and tv shows, whether they be cartoon or live action. So…we got together and started seeking out cool fabrics featuring Marvel, DC, Disney, and other hot properties. So far, we’ve found Mulan, Maleficent, Harry Potter, Avengers, Snoopy, Dr. Who, Nightmare Before Christmas, Scooby Doo, Winnie the Pooh, and Aquaman, and we’re finding new fabric every day!
All our cartoon and film art masks are $12.00. If you need them shipped, it’s an additional $1.00-$3.00 or more, depending on how many you order.
All the proceeds go to Julie, so when you buy them from ArtInsights we just have you send her payment via PayPal. We are also donating $2.00 from each sale to Oxfam America, which is working through US partners to fund programs that offer direct, immediate support to marginalized communities in some of the most distressed parts of the country struggling with the disease.
YOU CAN NOW ORDER DIRECTLY FROM THE ETSY SHOP, AND HAVE IT SENT TO YOU!
It’s interesting that when we started looking around for fabric for cartoon and film art masks, we ran up against the fact that lots of enterprising folks are buying up all available fabric and then selling on Etsy, small amounts they’ve cut up into what’s called a “fat quarter”, which is just enough to make 2 or 3 masks, at 4x the cost of the fabric if you can get it in the stores. That’s quite the mark-up!
As those who know me are aware, I’ll get all the fabric I want eventually. I always find a way. So we WILL be getting Batman (there’s a particular fabric I have in mind, and it will be OURS!) and Wonder Woman. I’ll also find Star Wars, but of course all these have to be 100% cotton. That’s the best and safest to use.
Whether you buy a mask by Julie through ArtInsights that features Scooby or Hermione or whatever character you love, or you go the none-more-black route, we hope you’ll protect those you love, and even those you don’t know, when you’re in close proximity. It might keep stores from closing again, and it might even save someone you love.
ArtInsights is so excited about the new release of Peanuts animation art, which celebrates the long history of collaboration between Peanuts and NASA. This new collection includes “Mission Control: We’re Ready for Assignment” The NASA Space Station limited edition of 50, and original production cels from the Peanuts animation featurette, which is the 4th episode of This is America, Charlie Brown, originally released in November of 1988, way before what was ultimately the International Space Station was up and running with a crew. I guess you could say that Charlie Brown, his friends, and his dog Snoopy were technically the first to man (and dog) the Space Station!
Even with all the darkness of the pandemic and police brutality in the news and on our minds, the anticipation and thrill around the SpaceX launch was high, and offered a brief respite from our country and world’s formidable struggles. Elon Musk has a goal to decrease the cost and improve the reliability of access to space, and as anyone who watched the Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule take off, orbit, and dock at the International Space Station, which is only the first leg of their journey. This test flight was to certify that SpaceX spacecraft is safe to start making routine trips to and from the space station for NASA, which as relied on Russia for that task since 2011, when space shuttle flights ended. At this moment, astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are on the space station with current commander and NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy. This new mission will be considered a complete success when Behnken and Hurley come home in the Crew Dragon. If all goes to plan, the next mission will be to carry 3 NASA astronauts and one astronaut from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency to the space station.
It started in the 60s, when Charles M. Schulz allowed Snoopy to become the mascot for the NASA’s spaceflight safety initiative. Schulz also created comic strips of Snoopy on the moon, to excited the public about the US space program. Then Charlie Brown and Snoopy became mascots of Apollo 10. They named the command module Charlie Brown, and the lunar module Snoopy. The NASA website explains, “In May 1969, Apollo 10 astronauts traveled to the Moon for a final checkout before lunar landings on later missions. Because the mission required the lunar module to skim the Moon’s surface to within 50,000 feet and “snoop around” scouting the Apollo 11 landing site, the crew named the lunar module Snoopy. The command module was named Charlie Brown, Snoopy’s loyal owner.” In fact, when the lunar module rendezvoused with the the command module, astronaut Thomas Stafford said, “Snoopy and Charlie Brown are hugging each other.”
Even now, NASA astronauts give an award to employees and contractors for outstanding achievements in human flight safety or mission success called the Silver Snoopy. The award includes a sterling silver Snoopy lapel pin that has been flown during a NASA mission, a commendation letter which includes on what mission the pin was flown) and a signed and framed Silver Snoopy certificate. It is a high honor for those who receive it.
In 2019, NASA and Peanuts Worldwide celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 10’s launch with a collaboration that ‘shared the excitement of science, technology, engineering, and math with the next generation of explorers’. NASA provided support for new Peanuts programs that focus on modern-day Astronaut Snoopy and space themes.
Most notable is the new show on Apple TV+ “Snoopy in Space”, which had its release on the premiere day of the streamer in November.
If you have AppleTV+, you can watch the whole 1st season now, which, by the way, got a score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and has been nominated for 4 Daytime Emmys. Here’s a trailer:
There’s also a 10 minute documentary short, directed by Oscar-winner Morgan Neville, and starring Ron Howard and Jeff Goldblum called Peanuts in Space: Secrets of Apollo 10. It features archival interviews of two of the three Apollo 10 astronauts, Tom Stafford and Eugene Cernan, as well as an interview with current NASA flight director, Ginger Kerrick. It too has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy!
So, for many reasons, this is the perfect time for a release of Peanuts animation art celebrating Snoopy in Space, Space Exploration, and the ongoing connection between Peanuts and NASA. This new art is from the 1988 featurette, This is America, Charlie Brown: The NASA Space Station.
In This is America, Charlie Brown: The NASA Space Station, the plot is based on Linus having a dream about being part of the Space Station after working all day on a school project about it.
In it, Linus imagines the Space Station commander as Lucy, (showing once again the progressive side of Peanuts) with Space Station operations run by Snoopy, Linus himself as the official scientist onboard, with five spacecraft specialists including Peppermint Patty in charge of exercise, Charlie Brown as cook and photographer, Sally and Pig Pen as experiment specialists, and Franklin as social scientist researching how the crew reacts to living in space for 90 days.
The NASA Space Station Peanuts limited edition is made with 22 paint colors and 3 ink colors and special wash effects to recreate Pig Pen’s dust, and it takes days to complete each individual piece of art. The background is a reproduction of an original background used in the original featurette.
This new limited edition was designed by animation director, Larry Leichliter.Using artwork from the studio archives, including publicity drawings, original key pose sheets and anoriginal background, Larry designed the Character Layout drawing for the animation celsand the Key Pose Model Sheet.
You can find buy or learn more about the new NASA Space Station Peanuts limited edition “Mission Control: We’re Ready for Assignment” by going HERE.
What is fascinating about Charles Schulz and his strong, long-lasting connection with NASA is how he was so committed to space exploration, and getting the public involved. Not only did he create the space-related comic strips that sparked his collaboration, then allowed his characters to be used for Apollo 10, he got involved in promoting the NASA project to construct a permanently crewed Earth-orbiting quite early. Reagan approved the Space Station Freedom project in 1984, and This is America, Charlie Brown: The NASA Space Station premiered in 1988. That was a lot of faith in the project coming to fruition. Basically, he was following the philosophy of “If you build it, they will come”, only the animation came first, and the space station followed… but then again, everyone follows Snoopy!
Lee Mendelson spoke about Schulz’s commitment to the project:
“They were building the station when Bill and I visited there in Houston. Nasa warned me that it might never work. I asked Sparky if we wanted to take the chance to do a show about a subject that might not ever happen. He said, “Absolutely. We have to back the efforts of these people.” He had great confidence as was proven earlier when he let Apollo 10 use Charlie Brown and Snoopy with the great risk involved If it failed.”
After budget cuts that put the project on hold, several times when the whole project was almost completely scrapped, the Clinton Administration announced the transformation of Space Station Freedom to the International Space Station, with Russia becoming part of the project. The first components of the ISS were launched into orbit in 1988, with the first long-term residents arriving in November of 2000.
The Peanuts characters worked on the space station all the way back in 1988, a full 12 years before NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko of Roscomos began their residency on the orbiting laboratory. In a way, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Sally, Peppermint Patty, Pig Pen, Franklin, and Snoopy were the space station’s ‘real’ first residents!
There are also a very few great This is America, Charlie Brown: The NASA Space Station Peanuts production cels available. Here are a few we have right now, and please contact us via email to check availability for all Peanuts animation art.
I love knowing that Schulz and his wife Jeannie went to NASA in the late 90s for the opening of an exhibit on Peanuts and NASA that was proudly on display there. The Space Administration genuinely loved Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gang.
Perhaps it seems odd or even in bad taste to think and talk about cartoons during such troubled times. For some, that may be true. But I’ll finish this blog about space, NASA and Peanuts with a very personal story. Many of you know I’ve had the gallery for over 27 years. Earlier in our time being open, my 16-year-old sister was killed in a car accident. She died right in the car, before she could even be taken to the hospital. I was at the gallery at the time, and my father had to call me and tell me the news. It was one of the worst days of my life. For a while, it was really hard to come into the gallery, and sit surrounded by animation and film art. It didn’t take very long, however, to discover that these pop culture references, these nostalgic, joyful images put things in perspective. I could look around and be surrounded by joyful memories, and it helped. It really did. It’s in the joyful living that we express why it is so important to be free, be healthy, and be safe. The fact that we can and do actively reach for joy is why it is important to stand up for those who can’t. Whether it is the risk of sickness or the risk of bodily harm, we owe it to folks at risk to stand for them. We owe it to those who are no longer here to embrace joy wherever and whenever we can. If that’s watching a Snoopy cartoon, or the SpaceX launch, so be it.
With that in mind, here is Snoopy doing the happy dance at the COVID Comfort Cartoon:
For Father’s Day, an interview with Ruth Clampett about growing up with Bob Clampett, plus a vintage collection of Beany and Cecil art!
We have the incredible luck to have gotten just a few of the extremely rare Beany and Cecil original production cels from the original 1960s show. These Beany and Cecil originals come directly from the animator Bob Clampett’s estate, which is overseen by his children. With Father’s Day right around the corner, and knowing from my friend Ruth Clampett how wonderful Bob Clampett was to have as a dad, I thought it would be a wonderful time to ask Ruth a few questions about her experience, both about growing up the child of the renowned animator, and as someone who has kept the artistic legacy of her dad alive, and promoted the art of animation and film as the owner of Clampett Studios.
Born and raised in California, not far from Hollywood, Bob Clampett is well-known to many animation fans. He worked at Warner Brothers during the creation of some of the most classic Looney Tunes cartoons, directing 84 of them, some of which are deemed the best in their history. He designed some very iconic characters, including Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and Tweety. Porky Pig is a character that was originally created by Friz Freleng, but fleshed out and made popular when Clampett pinned down his character in the late 30s. The animator was known for his wacky, outrageous animation, best expressed in his surreal classic which featured Porky Pig, 1938’s Porky in Wackyland. That animated short is a singular example in which artistry, animation, and humor blend perfectly. It is only because of the obsessive love of all things Disney at the time (remember this is right around the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) that it didn’t win an Oscar at the time. Actually, it wasn’t even nominated, but 4 Disney cartoons were, with Ferdinand the Bull the winner.
Beany and Cecil was created by Bob Clampett after he left Warner Brothers in 1946, some would say, at the height of his creativity as an artist. The cartoon was based on Clampett’s own earlier show, 1949’s Time for Beany, which featured puppets of a captain named Horatio (Or “Uncle Captain”), his nephew Beany Boy, as they travelled the high seas aboard the Leakin’ Lena. His best pal was a seasick serpent named Cecil. They had run-ins with a baddie named Dishonest John (or DJ for short). Watch a bit of it below:
After Time for Beany ended, Clampett revisited the characters by developing the Beany and Cecil cartoon show, which premiered in 1962.
That series was considered the first fully creator-driven television series, and announced itself as “a Bob Clampett Cartoon”. He and his team created 26 shows, which included 78 cartoons, and were repeated on Saturday mornings for the next five years.
One notable, and valuable aspect of the show was in the opening, where Cecil sings “A Bob Clampett cartoon!” It was a way that Bob Clampett got recognition for his work and creation. Working for other studios, the directors were not recognized, with the studio head getting prime billing. As someone who sells art by animation and film artists, many of whom remain relatively unknown, it is a pleasure to see.
All these years later, there are still fans who remember watching and loving the Beany and Cecil characters have a strong cult following. This show paved the way for lots of other animation, as did all of Bob Clampett cartoons.
Ruth Clampett, Bob’s daughter, owns the art business that represents most of the official Looney Tunes animation, all the art from Hanna Barbera, as well as art from Harry Potter, and all animation from DC Comics.
I asked her if she had any Beany and Cecil art she could ask her family to offer through ArtInsights, and I was thrilled that she prevailed upon them to give me some rare original Beany and Cecil art from the 1962 cartoon.
I asked Ruth a few questions about her experience growing up with these iconic characters, what the art itself means to her and her family, and what made Bob Clampett a great dad:
What are a few really great memories of Beany and Cecil you remember that stays with you from when you were growing up?
Growing up a Clampett meant that I was growing up inside a cartoon…there was always a sense of wonder and magic. There was very little delineation of my dad’s work life and home life. Dad had a great sense of humor and would always come up with stories or ways to entertain us. We would hang out at my parent’s studio in Hollywood where his office was full of art and toys, and then come home to a house where Beany and Cecil toys and our art abound. At school our friends would sing to us, “A Bob Clampett Cartoo-o-o-on!” It was an animated life for sure.
When did you discover these cels, which are from your father’s estate? Can you talk about your perspective on the pieces themselves?
My dad kept everything he could on projects that he had loved in his career, so my brother, sister and I were always aware of Dad’s archives and understood how meaningful it was to him. The Beany and Cecil art is an important part of that archive. We naturally have respected and preserved it as best we could. ..those cels are sixty years old!
Meanwhile my brother, Rob, has overseen art and photos being loaned for books, museum exhibits and such. It has always been our dream to have the collection in a museum and many images in a book about his career. We won’t stop until that dream is realized.
As for the Beany and Cecil cels, I do think they capture that era where characters weren’t overdone, but had engaging and unique personalities. How can you look at a Cecil cel and not smile along with him?
What makes Beany and Cecil so special as a cartoon?
I think what was special about Beany and Cecil was their friendship and how they always looked out for each other as two “best pals” would. Cecil was big-hearted, but also gullible and often Beany would be the one to look out for Cecil. But if Beany was ever in trouble, Cecil would charge ahead and save his little pal. Other important aspects were that despite the limited TV animation of that time, the shows were very story driven. They were always on an adventure to unusual places where they would meet every kind of creature and character. There was always excitement and lots of laughs in every episode. We were also entertained with spoofs on popular movie studios or Disneyland (as in the episode “Beanyland.” And exposed to hip characters like Go Man VanGogh, the Wildman of Wildsville, who was ahead of his time.
Dad was always at the forefront of animation and character basedentertainment, whether puppets or cartoons. He worked on the first Merrie Melodies cartoon at 17, and at the age of 15 helped his aunt, Charlotte Clark, design the first Mickey Mouse Doll. He was truly destined to have career in animation. Years later when he learned about the advent and possibilities of television at the World’s Fair he knew he wanted to be part of that new frontier in entertainment.
His puppet show, Time for Beany was a sensation and won three Emmys. The immediacy of puppetry on television was very exciting for a storyteller like my Dad. So later when the idea came about to do limited animation for television, Dad was inspired to take his popular puppet characters, Beany and Cecil, and immerse them in the animated world.
Did you dad ever talk about the characters or reference them to you, in terms of art or as an animator? How and when did you connect to your dad as an artist and animator, and realize he was important to animation history?
Dad was always coming up with new ideas and would often share them with us. When MTV first came on the air with all music videos we talked about how he would do a video with a band and have animated characters as part of the video. I loved that idea.
From one artist to another I learned from him to look for inspiration everywhere. Dad was passionate about music, movies, and happenings in the news. We grew up around art books, museums and shows. He and my mom always encouraged us to follow our passion and be willing to try new things. They gave us a lot of freedom, both creatively and making our own decisions and I will always be thankful for having such an inspiring environment and encouraging parents. They always made me believe that I could achieve anything I truly set my mind and heart to.
What would you want people to know about your dad? What made him special?
I know many animation fans must wonder based on Dad’s Looney Tunes cartoons that this guy must have been pretty wild with how energized and wacky his cartoons could get. What they don’t know is that he did have a great sense of humor and loved to laugh, he also had a big heart and was very kind. I never heard him speak bad of anyone, even people who had treated him badly, and as an adult I realize how unusual that is. He didn’t care about money or fancy things. Instead nothing made him happier to hang out with a group of young animators and fans, find out about what they were working on or inspired about, and then sharing stories they asked to hear.
This has all been wonderful. Thanks, Ruth. Can we finish this interview with you telling us one great memory you have of your dad that stays with you?
I think when I was about nine my Dad had the idea that it would be fun to have a family puppet show. He and my Mom put a series of numbers together and then he directed us using the Time for Beany puppets (mainly obscure secondary characters) for the show. We had a lot of fun and ended up performing at a number of events. I credit that experience also for making me never be afraid to get up and speak in front of a crowd. That comes in handy every year when I present the Humanitarian award in his name at the San Diego Comic Convention!
You can read a bunch more about the making of Beany and Cecil in a story by a storyboard artist who worked on the show, Robert Story, by going HERE. Here is a video where Sody Clampett, Bob’s wife and Ruth’s mom, talks about Bob’s career:
It’s too bad the dvd of the complete 1962 Beany and Cecil cartoon show are so incredibly hard to come by, but it’s no surprise. Even some Oscar-winning Bugs cartoons cost a fortune, if you can find them.
Lastly, check out a bit of the panel I did at San Diego Comic-Con featuring Ruth Clampett and Linda Jones, called “Looney Tunes Legacy”. Ruth talks about her dad:
As part of my blogging about animation and our animation art collection during the pandemic, I have been ending with a COVID Comfort Cartoon. This week, I’m using the Beany and Cecil cartoon Harecules and the Golden Fleecing, because I thought it might amuse the many, many parents who are having to home-school very smart kids.
Over the years, and there have been many, (we’ve been selling animation since 1988), we’ve sold a LOT of Little Mermaid production cels. So many, in fact, that there are lots of cels that go at auction (and for a pretty penny) that are framed in what I call “The Little Mermaid frame”, which sadly doesn’t exist anymore, but was a gold frame with waves on it. All of those Little Mermaid cels came from ArtInsights. There’s also that telltale sign of our sticker on the back of the art.
Back in 1990, during the first release of Little Mermaid original production cels, I sold something from nearly every scene from the movie. Back then, there really weren’t very many animation galleries. We shared the bounty with lots of Disney stores, who at the time also sold art. I remember some of my favorite scenes, and thinking they’d be very popular over time. Also, I remember selling as many as 30-50 cels to one collector. In fact, there are some pretty impressive Little Mermaid collections out there that we’ve built! There was one collector, (a guy, lots of avid Little Mermaid collectors are men!) who wanted to buy a cel from every scene in the film, including what I called “Ariel Flashdance”, which is where Ariel comes up for air, and she is in shadow:
Over the years, I’ve sold many hundreds of cels from
, but it has gotten harder and harder to find good images, especially ones with seals.
This reminds me of the story of when I went to a Sotheby’s Auction, and went into a hotel room beforehand where someone in the business was selling Little Mermaid production cels out of a box, where there were hundreds of stolen cels with no seals. That guy got busted a few years later…
There is only one scene I’ve never been able to find or sell: The scene with Ariel and the seahorses. I’m still on the hunt for some of those…
Anyway, one of my longtime clients came to me recently wanting to sell some of their collection. I had sold some wonderful images to this friend who lived in Europe. There they lived for many years, and now this friend was wanting to do something else with the money they would bring. YAY!
Included in the collection were images from “Kiss the Girl”, and the scene where Ariel is picking at an underwater flower…. “He loves me, he loves me not”, a scene from which they made a limited edition! There are some charming images of Ariel and her underwater friends, the first time she “talks” to Eric, and one wonderful cel from “A Part of Your World”.
A collector friend of mine showed me that this image was actually used for the back of the sheet music of Kiss the Girl. How cool is that?
All these images come with seals and certificates, of course. For those wanting to bring them home, they’ll be coming from one loving household to another.
One of the most wonderful things that I guessed a lot time ago that actually came to pass is that the last hand-painted Disney animated film, The Little Mermaid, was not only historic in that way, but also became a huge hit with collectors, and is really one of the most collectible movies in all of Disney.
Well this is a fine mess the world has gotten into, no? All politics aside, it’s terrifying to imagine our loved ones, or ourselves at risk to Corona virus, so we at ArtInsights love that people are staying home for as long as is necessary to get this pandemic behind us all. It has brought many people together and shown the best of who many of us are, and for that we are lucky.
We are a retail gallery, it’s true, but we’ve always had a strong internet presence, and we’re focusing on our website until the world is safe for all of us again. What does that mean?
Well, in concrete terms, Virginia has requested (legally..so really, demanded) that we limit activity in the brick and mortar store until June 10th. We want all the people we enjoy, love, and/or celebrate to stay safe, so ArtInsights is shifting ALMOST exclusively online. For those who want to pick up art, we can do that, albeit while adhering to the strictest social distancing measures. If anyone buys art online that lives in the DC area (in a house, or in an apartment complex we can drop the art off at the concierge or security desk where there is proof of delivery) we will drop off the art. Any of our clients elsewhere in the US will get free Fedex ground for any unframed art costing more than $200.
Further, we will be having surprise deals, specials, and events as we continue to navigate the time we are all inside, and I’ll be writing blogs with exciting art that will relate to special pieces or collections we’ll have, but they will also educate, so that those who aren’t in a position to buy anything for now will still enjoy reading them!
We have lots of events up our sleeve. Many of them involve multiple companies or artists, so that more people can benefit and feel bolstered. Artists are definitely hurting now. If you’ve seen some of the memes about how we are all enjoying art and it’s keeping us sane, that gives you an idea of just how important these artisans are, and how important it is to support them. For now, you can read about our first event, which celebrates Bob Singer, and offers exclusive art from his estate and directly from the studio. READ ABOUT THIS HISTORIC ARTIST AND HIS ART HERE.
Please, if you have any questions or requests, or art you’re looking for, please let us know. We’d love to find it for you! If you haven’t signed up for our newsletter or to be part of our Facebook gallery page, please do that. Many of these specials will only be 24 hours. You won’t want to miss them!
Retail is challenged right now, no question. But we believe we can weather the storm and come out the other side changed but better. The most important thing is to make sure we are all safe and finding comfort and joy.
We are in this together! Stay sane, find joy, and celebrate art!
Visit ArtInsights for our special Gallery Opening on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday!
There’s such a storied history for Bill Melendez and his 1965 classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. Not only have we seen it generation after generation, it remains one of the most watched specials every holiday season. Yes, it is Christian at its core, but cartoon fans of all faiths (including Atheism) love it and can’t wait to tune in, even as they have it on dvd, downloaded, or whatever newest version is available.
In 2015, I had the great pleasure of going out to LA and meeting a number of animators who had worked on the original special, and we all gathered together to toast the 50th anniversary of a great holiday tradition.
During and around that A Charlie Brown Christmas Anniversary event, I was able to interview several key artists involved, including Lee Mendelson, which you can see HERE. I also got to see some rare Charlie Brown Christmas art from their archives. As a fan myself, I was thrilled. It has been a show my family watches together since as early as I can remember.
This year, as always, I had requests throughout the year for various images from my Peanuts art and Bill Melendez art fans. In my research for great images, I discovered something. (I’m always learning something new..) Somehow I had never learned that Woodstock was named after the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival! That led to a great release from the people that run the animation art program at Bill Melendez Studios that was in honor of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. We got big Woodstocks, little ones, recognizable art from Snoopy Come Home and less identifiable but charming Woodstock art from commercials and other TV specials. We sold a bunch of them. They also stumbled onto a very few images from the original Halloween special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. We sold them in minutes, then begged for more, but they were all gone, of course!
Cut to now… In asking for some images from Charlie Brown Christmas specials or commercials, the Bill Melendez folks found some great, very rare art, and offered me a special show. We’d had such a wonderful year full of collectors embracing these beloved characters, they wanted to show their appreciation. Of course we said yes!
The result is a collection of art spanning from originals by Bill Melendez himself, to A Charlie Brown Christmas art from the book and record, to cels and drawings from I Want a Dog for Christmas as well as Christmas themed commercials to limited editions that had sold out so long ago, I didn’t even have them at our own store or had just opened, so that would date to being released around 1995-2005. a LONG TIME AGO!
The Charlie Brown Christmas art from the record and book is so exciting because all the images were actually used to make the official one and only read-along book for the Peanuts Christmas special.
Someone made my life really easy by posting it in its entirety on YouTube:
I was floored when I saw these for the first time. I mean, we all recognize exactly what’s happening during each image and they’re from 1977!
We also got the official limited editions that had been released decades ago, including this one:
The thing about getting this collection, is we are requested to sell the art for only 10% more or less than their suggested retail. The above piece is $8000, which is exactly what they have as retail, and I haven’t seen any at all online, but even if I did, that piece would have been at a home and being resold. This is coming directly from the studio. It just doesn’t get any more classic than this!
other sold out A Charlie Brown Christmas limited editions include the below images, Tree Lot, Dog Gone Commercial and Snoopy’s Audition, all sold out but we have one of each!
We also have I Want a Dog for Christmas art. That special is a new classic played during the holiday season, and features Rerun, Linus’s brother. By the time they made this cartoon, cels were not being used, so the studio created model cels that are completely done by hand to accompany the original drawings or layouts or color model drawings from the special. My favorite is a great cel and drawings from a scene with Schroeder, Lucy, Snoopy and Woodstock:
The most surprising part of the collection is the original marker and graphite originals by Bill Melendez himself they sent. These have to be released by the Bill Melendez estate. We’ve only had a few in our entire span as dealers of Peanuts art. I truly wish I could keep one myself. They come directly from the source, so fans and collectors who buy them feel like part of the Peanuts family! (and, I’ll say it again and reiterate what everyone I’ve ever interviewed has said. Bill Melendez was the nicest man ever to work in animation.)
There was a show called The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show that ran between 1983 and 1985. We got Snoopy, Lucy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and Sally art from Sally’s Sweet Babboo, the one episode that featured a Christmas play and Lucy and Snoopy skating!
The Charlie Brown animation art oeuvre would not be complete without mentioning the commercials these characters appeared in, and we have charming images as part of this Charlie Brown Christmas animation show!
Have you been to our gallery in Reston Town Center since it’s been renovated? We have a new floor, new windows, a new door, and a new lobby! and of course it’s gorgeous in Reston Town Center at the holidays. Stop by and ask to see our Charlie Brown Christmas specials animation art collection.
Our Charlie Brown Christmas art show will be having an opening weekend on Black Friday, November 29th, Small Business Support Saturday, November 30th, and Christmas Special Sunday, December 1st, with refreshments, art exclusively available that weekend, and special surprises! Call or email us with any questions.
Michael Barry is a master framer, and has been framing since 1979. Now it’s very clear we do custom framing, because says it on our new sign! Until recently lots of people new to the gallery didn’t realize we do framing. We get it. Our vintage Disney art, Star Wars art, Marvel and DC art, Harry Potter… It’s magically distracting! Now we’ve got a new sign, and more new frames, and moved them so it’s clearer to folks walking by…
You may not know this, but Reston Town Center had been built with the pavilion taking the place of a spot in which, in the 70s, hippies, it is said, had bonfires. There was always great energy here. So we moved into a spot in the lobby of Two Fountain Square, where before us there was only a dirt floor.
It all started about 26 years ago, back when Mobil owned Reston Town Center. They had concerts and lots of other free events. Mobil, it seemed, had money to burn. They promoted all the stores here. There was a marketing budget, and they loved talking about the small businesses here.
The sign for our gallery was approved, after much ado, by both the folks at Mobil, and the Reston Architectural Review Board. But small and succinct, it just said, “ArtInsights”. We put a real hard wood floor in (that was four floors ago..), and got to work selling animation art, which at the time was only just becoming popular as a collectible. There are only a few galleries that specialized in it. But we ALWAYS did framing, and..in point of fact, for no more and often far less than Michael’s down the street from us…Michael had been framing since the 70s, and people followed him from Alexandria, driving from there, DC, Arlington, and parts of Maryland to avail themselves of his talent. Anyone who has framed art knows how important framing can be to interior design.
Over the years, we’ve had renovations, new floors, new walls, and the like, but every time we tried to get a larger, more interesting sign, we came up against whoever owned the center. We never even GOT to the architectural review board. We could just never get anything approved.
This year, to our great pleasure, Boston Properties gave us approval to put a far more interesting, more dramatic sign in front of our gallery! (and it says ART AND FRAMING!)
We also finally got a front door, which is something we’ve wanted a long time. Fresh air is important!
We also got new windows into the lobby, which gives us lots more light and a better view for people walking by.
Everyone who comes in thinks we made the gallery bigger, but it’s just little things like our moving the frames to the front and getting much bigger windows that have made the store feel bigger!
We added a bunch of new frames, and we’re pretty excited about them! Do you have some treasure, or funky thing, or a piece of art you’ve had sitting around that should be on your wall? Now’s a great time to come by and let us partner on some custom framing to beautify it for your home!
We have been grateful that all the major studios and many of our collector friends have given us rare art, special exclusives, and new releases to present in our new space to our clients.
Curious about some of the cool images (Batman, the Avengers, Star Wars, the Beatles, vintage Disney art from Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, Fantasia, and Mary Poppins, just to name a few..) stop by soon!
In the near future, we’ll be adding some music and special events to our roster, so check back often to see what’s new.
Lesson? There’s always something that renews enthusiasm in small business, no matter what the retail environment. My advice to other small businesses who have been around a long time is find something that will bring both you and your clients joy.
ArtInsights is celebrating Women’s History Month with a signing of the book Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney Animation and a lecture from the author, leading historian on women in animation and film, Mindy Johnson. Accompanying the event, which is from 2 to 5pm, will be the premiere of a collection of vintage animation, as well as illustration art by famed Disney concept artist Lorelay Bove, who has contributed images for Johnson’s upcoming release Pencils, Pens, & Brushes: A Great Girls’ Guide to Disney Animation. Scrawl Books (our indie bookstore neighbor in Reston Town Center) will be partnering with ArtInsights for book sales, and refreshments will be served. Entrance is free, but RSVPs have first priority. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ArtInsights at 703-478-0778 to secure your spot!
About Ink & Paint:
From the earliest origins of animated imagery, the colorful link between paper and screen was created by legions of female artists working on the slick surface of celluloid sheets. With calligraphic precision and Rembrandt-esque mastery, these women painstakingly brought pencil drawings to vibrant, dimensional life. Yet perhaps as a reflection of the transparent canvas they created on, the contributions and history of these animation artists have remained virtually invisible and largely undocumented, until now.
Walt Disney’s pioneering efforts in animation transformed novelty cartoons into visual masterpieces, establishing many “firsts” for women within the entertainment industry along the way. Focusing on talent, Disney sought female story specialists and concept artists to expand the scope and sensibility of his storytelling. Upon establishing the first animation-training program for women, ink pens were traded for pencils as ladies made their way into the male-laden halls of animation. World War II further opened roles traditionally held by men, and women quickly progressed into virtually every discipline within animation production. Disney’s later development of the Xerox process and eventual digital evolution once again placed women at the forefront of technological advancements applied to animated storytelling.
About Pencils, Pens, & Brushes:
Based on Mindy’s critically acclaimed Disney Editions title, Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, this nonfiction picture book is a fun and inspiring look at many of the amazing women who have worked at Disney Animation over the years—from Story Artists, to Animators to Inkers and Painters, all with unique personalities and accomplishments, such as becoming a record-holding pilot, or designing Hollywood Monsters, or creating an international club for tall people!
This timeless treasure features the whimsical and inspiring illustrations of noted Disney artist Lorelay Bové, whose visual development and design artistry defined such animated classics as The Princess and the Frog, Prep & Landing, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia.
About Mindy Johnson:
In her latest landmark book, Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, author Mindy Johnson pulls back the celluloid curtain on the nearly vanished world of ink pens, paintbrushes, pigments, and tea. From the earliest black-and-white Alice Comedies to the advent of CAPS and digital animation, meet the pioneering women who brought hand-rendered animated stories to vibrant, multicolored life at Walt Disney Studios and beyond. Extensively researched with the full support of the entire Walt Disney Studios archival resources, plus a multitude of private collections, firsthand accounts, newly discovered materials, and production documentation, as well as never-before-seen photography and artwork, this essential volume redefines the collective history of animation.
Award-winning author, historian, filmmaker, educator, musician and more, Mindy Johnson’s creative accomplishments reflect the diversity of her talents and experience.
A leading expert on women’s roles in animation and film history, Mindy frequently writes and speaks on early cinema, animation, women’s history, and creativity. Her ongoing research and groundbreaking discoveries continue to cast light on the invisible narrative of women’s presence within the first century of the motion picture industry.
Mindy has produced record-breaking global campaigns, creative content, exhibitions and events for a growing list of clients including: The Walt Disney Company, AMPAS/Oscars.org, WNET/American Masters, The Walt Disney Family Museum, Bing Crosby Enterprises, SiriusXM Radio and Horipro Entertainment.
In addition to her film expertise, literary efforts and consulting, Mindy is also an award-winning playwright, songwriter, composer, and contributing artist on several internationally acclaimed recordings and published compositions. Mindy teaches cinema history, aesthetics and intercultural film within the Los Angeles area, including a first-of-its-kind course on the history of women in animation, based on her ground-breaking book, at CalArts – California Institute of the Arts. See more about her on her website by clicking here.
About Lorelay Bove:
Born in Barcelona, Spain, raised in the principality of Andorra and part of a family full of gifted artists (her father is renowned painter Quim Bove) art has always been a way of life for Lorelay. Educated at the prestigious California Institute for the Arts, a school founded by Walt Disney to foster young creative talent, this exciting young artist has made an impact on the art and animation world almost immediately upon her arrival.
After making her entry into the business as an art intern at Pixar Animation Studios, she quickly transitioned into her current role as a Visual Development Artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
As a visual development artist for Disney, her conceptual artwork has been extremely influential in the visual direction of films such as ThePrincess and the Frog, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, and Wreck-it Ralph. Lorelay is also known for providing the illustrations for the Little Golden Book The Princess and the Frog title, as well as Toy Story:Ride ’em Cowboy! Her work is also featured on the cover of The Art of Wreck-it Ralph.
Her work is often compared to the work of Disney Legend Mary Blair, although Lorelay confesses that she did not become aware of Ms. Blair’s work until her college years. Her own visual signature and style had already been well established for many years at that point, however, she finds the comparison flattering. “It’s quite a compliment!” she says.
RESTON TOWN CENTERPARKING, ARTINSIGHTS HOLIDAY HOURS, GIFT WITH PURCHASE, AND GALLERY UPDATE!
As many of you know, with the changes in parking at Reston Town Center, we have had a number of clients avoid the center and only come on the weekends, so we’ve committed to being open on Sundays, and have seen a lot more of our clients on the weekends. For those of you who have avoided the center altogether…
Now Balducci’s is open across the street!How does that help us apart from the traffic?
Balducci’s offers 2 hours free parking without any apps or parking kiosks.Now, we don’t advocate you parking there and walking out without supporting the place, but who among us won’t find something awesome there? They are all decked out for Christmas, with lots of hard-to-find items and specialty foods all in one place.
I spoke to the head of produce there, and told him his produce was a might pricey.He told me there’s a reason.and it’s a good one!He says they go through the fruits and vegetables multiple times a day to make sure it’s all fresh and perfect, and that he personally checks every box as it comes in off the truck.So that means if you (or your loved one) wants something that isn’t going to go bad in a day or two, or you don’t find has mold on it the minute you get home, Balducci’s is the place!
I go there often for things I can’t find anywhere else, like tarragon mustard, imported chocolates, and swanky cheese. The holidays are the time to splurge on swanky cheese!
Anyway, you can park there and walk across the street any time! Also, of course the parking is free in all the garages Saturdays and Sundays. and if you just need to run in and pick something up or drop off framing, remember you can always park right out front, as it has 15 minutes grace period.If any of our clients ever get a ticket for being there, we get it taken care of, so just pop back in and i’ll take it to the parking staff.
HOLIDAY SPECIAL HOURS:
Black (Panther) Friday, we’ll be at the gallery starting at 8am!
We’ll have cider and snacks to fortify our friends and clients. We will have a few costumed pals out at the tree after the parade for pictures with the kiddos, and we’ll be open to 6pm.
The rest of the holidays, our hours are:
Monday through Friday 10 – 6pm
Saturday 10 – 6pm
Sunday 12 – 5pm
We’ll be open on Christmas eve, from 10-2pm, for last minute pick ups and late shoppers.
We’ll be closed from December 31st to the 2nd of January to celebrate the new year.
Reston Town Center is actually a wonderful place to do your Christmas shopping! Parking is always free in all the garages on the weekends, there are great places to eat, and not only is there not the crush and crowds you find at the traditional malls, it’s also beautifully decorated during the holidays. They’ve gone the extra step this year, as they’ve been doing the last few years, to make it lovely and charming, especially at night, so come visit us.
Remember if you need to plan for coming in outside regular hours, you just need to let us know and we’ll try to arrange it. We are here to help and make the holidays as easy and fun as we can for all.
GIFT WITH PURCHASE!
We are gathering fun and exciting items to give to those who make purchases during the holiday season, so from November 17th through December 31st, you’ll get a little something geeky and art-related with every purchase! What is it? You’ll have to come in to find out, but we know it will make your season a little brighter.
As those of you who saw our newsletter and our gift guide blog might have surmised, we have lots of new art, and the gallery is all decked out in holiday finery, so it’s definitely worth a trip.
What else is happening? We are about to get a door out to the front of the building.After 26 years, we thought it was time! With all the permit headaches, it’s probably going to be finished at the coldest time of the year, but we’re still excited. We won’t be using it during the winter, but we’ll have lots more air and a great feeling of openness when it’s warmer out. We want to be able to be open when we want, including outside the hours that the building doors are locked.We aren’t sure yet how this will effect our hours, but we’ll write again and let you know when we decide.We are imagining Friday or Saturday night events with music and new art releases. We will have an event to celebrate our new door and other special changes to the space in the spring.
ARE YOU ON OUR NEWSLETTER LIST?
We have a newsletter we send out to our clients.We don’t send them very often, but when we have new art, or events, or something cool is happening, we let you know.So it might be bi-monthly? Why don’t you give it a try if you want to keep up with us, read about and see all the latest releases or gallery scoops? Just go to the front page of our website and the popup will show up where you can sign up.Facebook and blogs can only do so much!
Are you looking for art for the loved one that loves film and art? Or just looking for something unique that will make you a superhero, a princess, a rock star to your family? We are ready for you!
Artinsights certainly has perfectly timed for what’s happening in pop culture this holiday season, all with art that is not only officially licensed, but created by studio artists.Steamboat Willie has its 90th anniversary on November 18th, and Yellow Submarine turns 50 on November 13th.Both Disney and Warner Bros. have highly-anticipated tentpole films releasing in December, with Mary Poppins Returns landing in theaters December 19th, and Aquaman swimming to screens on December 14th.ArtInsights Gallery has art representing all these properties, makingholiday gift giving easy for the loved ones of fans who search in vain every year for something special and unusual to make the season bright.Prices range from $150 to a king’s ransom, with several highlighted pieces in the lower range to keep budgets in mind. In fact, click below for the page with a selection of dozens of pieces below $250!
Fans of Mickey Mouse and the Beatles have been celebrating all year. Yellow Submarine returned to theaters this summer, and there’s a new graphic novel release of the story.Disney is having what they’re calling the “world’s biggest mouse party”, and have a new exhibit in New York called “Mickey: The True Original Exhibition”.ArtInsights is ready for those with friends and family who are fans, with official art by Alex Ross featuring the Beatles called “The Fab Four “ in a limited edition mini canvas for $150.Mickey Mouse as Steamboat Willie reminds Disneyphiles where it all began.For them, the gallery suggests one of two limited editions by highly-collectible Disney artist Tim Rogerson, one a giclee on canvas featuring Mickey through the years called “Mickey’s Creative Journey” priced at $150
the other a hand-signed giclee on paper capturing the character in a grey-toned piece called “Mickey at the Helm” for $350.
Mary Poppins, starring Emily Blunt, directed by Rob Marshall, promises to be a huge hit, especially with fans of the Oscar-winning 1964 classic.The gallery has a limited edition signed by Tim Rogerson called “A Mary Tune”,that shows Mary and her cohorts painted against the sheet music for Feed the Birds, written by the Sherman Brothers, who won an Oscar and Grammy for Mary Poppins. It is priced at $495.
Also offered, for the fans who have everything, is art by matte background painter Peter Ellenshaw, who, indeed won an Oscar for his work on the film. “Practically Perfect”, which is signed by Ellenshaw, who passed away in 2007, is $1100, and would be a highlight of any Disney film fan’s collection. Check out all the Mary Poppins by clicking on the picture!
For Aquaman, the gallery has an image created by famed DC and Justice League Unlimited animation director Bruce Timm, which includes not only Aquaman, but many of the members of the Justice League, including Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, all of whom have been making news in live action studio news this year, called “Guardians of Justice”. Also suggested is a giclee on canvas by DC comic book cover artist Alex Ross that features Aquaman with the lead members of the Justice League called “JLA”.Both retail for $150, but hey, see all the Aquaman art by clicking
What about the release of the new animated feature on December 14th called Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse? Yes, we have art for fans of your friendly neighborhood web spinner.
and of COURSE we have lots of great Marvel images for your superhero-loving loved ones:
There are a number of other pieces corresponding to film art news, including art from Pinocchio, which was recently announced as a property Guillermo Del Toro will reinterpret with a new stop-motion film. Whether purists stick with the original Harry Potter series or love the newest releases written by Rowling, art from the Harry Potter book and film series is alway popular, and coincides withFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.Many are created by Stuart Craig, the production designer for all the Harry Potter movies as well as the new Fantastic Beast series.
There are a number of images by Star Wars production artists, including the limited edition “The Cold of Hoth” by John Alvin, an exclusive giclee on paper for $150 from everyone’s favorite film in the saga.
We also have the latest official images of DC and Marvel characters. Of course, there is a veritable parade of Disney princesses represented in art, which is perfectly timed with the release of Ralph Breaks The Internet, in which there is a wonderful, hilarious scene featuring the classic princesses of Disney with their original voices.
Looking for something truly special and rare? You know we are the official representative for the art of John Alvin, and we’ve added a lot of new art from his family’s collection. Want some of the only original Batman art created for a Batman film? Concept art for Revenge of the Jedi? Blade Runner or E.T. art by the man who created the posters for those classic films? Maybe art from Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin? Look no further.
We also have a number of one-of-a-kind pieces that relate to new releases and anniversaries, like The Grinch, which (STARRING BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH!) releases early November. We have an original graphite from the 1966 Chuck Jones cartoon classic.
Also, November marks the 20th anniversary of the Powerpuff Girls. We have one amazing, awesome production cel with all three lead characters.
Are you a fan of the Fantastic Four?
and OH Hey, we have Warner Bros. and Hanna Barbera cartoon art directly from the studio, too! Below is one half of a two-piece set of Wile E and Road Runner.
Click below to see all the art from both studios!
We have so much more. Contact the gallery for all the special pieces we are getting in for the holidays to make your gift giving fun and easy!
Happy Holidays, everyone, from your pals at ArtInsights.
We are thrilled to announce the addition of original and limited edition art by the renowned concept and matte background artist William Silvers to our gallery!
All the art is from Bill’s personal collection, created in an official capacity as Disney and LucasFilm fine artist or was actually part of making a film.
We’re adding all the art as quickly as possible, but please contact us with requests or interest, as there are a number of originals we have not yet listed for sale, and some special images that will not be on our website.
As most of you know by now, we feature artists that actually work inside the industry, so it is a great pleasure to have his work at ArtInsights. He is also a very nice man. He is easy-going, has great integrity, and is committed to ever expanding his talent and skill. Here is Bill’s lengthy and impressive bio:
William Silvers is one of the preeminent concept artists working in the film industry today. Starting his career in New York as an illustrator for ad agencies, William continued to perfect his style and technique. His love of film and his passion for art led him on a path to filmmaking. He has worked with nearly every major studio, and is known for his use of diverse styles and techniques. Passionate and easy-going, William Silvers infuses his love of film and artistic expression in every piece.
In 1995, his film career began at Walt Disney Feature Animation where he adapted his fine art painting skills to the world of filmmaking. He created unforgettable backgrounds for Disney classics such as Mulan, Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, and Brother Bear.
Eager for new experiences William enjoyed a stint as Associate Art Director for EA Sports-Tiburon. While there he contributed to the development of the award-winning game NCAA Football.
William achieved a personal triumph when his long awaited book Painting Realistic Wildlife in Acrylic was published. The book was a compilation of his beloved Wildlife paintings and it included instructional techniques to teach and inspire young artists.
His collaboration with Disney had bolstered a deep-seated desire to create meaningful work and that drive earned him a coveted stint at Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm Ltd.As a digital matte painter, William created some of the most stunning images for the feature films The Day after Tomorrow and Star Wars Episode III, The Revenge of the Sith.
With his reputation in the Industry growing, William accepted a position at DreamWorks Animation Studios. His work can be seen in How To Train Your Dragon 2, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, The Croods, Rise of the Guardians, Puss In Boots, Kung Fu Panda 2, Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special and Shrek Forever After.
The artist recently concluded his Sony Pictures Imageworks contract as a digital matte painter for the animated comedy adventure film Storks produced by Warner Animation Group.
William also creates new and exciting fine art pieces for Disney Galleries and Lucasfilm Ltd.His art can be found throughout the Disney Theme Parks, and his long relationship with the Walt Disney Company continues to be a consistent theme in his career.
“What began as a foray into film making blossomed into a comprehensive career, the foundation for which was Disney Animation.”
Collectors from around the world have also embraced his personal art, which allows him to expand his artistic vocabulary and express the wide spectrum of styles that continue to bring him joy.
We are also working on a contemporary art project with him, and we’ll bring you news of that as it takes shape.
WELCOME WILLIAM SILVERS, and may the force be with us!
It’s getting down to the last minute for getting Christmas presents and holiday gifts! We thought we’d help the folks out there who are still struggling to find something wonderful, and suggest film art.Disney art and Marvel superhero art, just to name two, make crowd pleasing, inventive gifts for family and friends who love movies.Our experience in the gallery is it can be the sort of art people don’t buy themselves, but love and enjoy, and would be so happy to get as a gift! We have so many visitors who frequent our store and know all about the movies, and come by just to see what’s new.They respect and look up to the artists that are represented here.I’m also so excited when someone close to them comes in and gets them a piece.It’s always so well received!
With that in mind, here are a few pieces that are ready to display and are $150 or under:
How many of my longterm clients know that the mice and birds in Cinderella are some of my all-time favorites? I’m not alone. John Rowe does a great composition of them and the star of the film, Cinderella’s castle…ummm, I mean, Cinderella.
Oh that haughty iris is such a great character. There are so many minor characters that are memorable in Alice in Wonderland. Here are just a few of them, created in a great Disney fine art piece by Michelle St. Laurent:
What a wonderful piece this Dig A Little Deeper is! Heather Theurer has gotten lots of press for her live action reinterpretations of Disney princesses. Here is her version of the first African-American Disney princess:
Did you love Moana? Of course you did. This is one of the best scenes in the whole movie, captured in Disney fine art by Rob Kaz.
You’d be surprised at the number of adult fans this pixie dream girl has. She should be the original “not bad, just drawn that way”, but regardless, many a fan would love to have this sometimes-sweet fairy.
And what about Star Wars: The Last Jedi? You loved it? You hated it? Either way, you’re probably a fan of the saga, and so is that loved-one. Here’s a sold-out Star Wars limited edition of BB8 the Astromech droid by Steve Thomas that no one will argue about. The best of the new Star Wars characters captured in official Star Wars film art!
Maybe that hard-to-buy-for friend or family member is a fan of Marvel. If everyone didn’t love Thor and company before Ragnarok, they do now! We have framed special-release posters from San Diego Comic-Con of both Ragnarok and Black Panther that will be a great gift and tickle their fancy. We also have a sold out Captain America limited edition and a great New Avengers piece…
OMG! You can get Thor, Cap, and Iron Man by Alex Ross for your Marvel-obsessed loved-one! Can there be a better gift? No. The answer is no.
Today, on November 25th, the Disney classic of the new Golden Age of Animation Aladdin turns 25. Who doesn’t love and remember Robin Williams as the Genie?
This “Magic at Your Fingertips” Walt Disney Classics Collection sculpture by Ruben Procopio captures him perfectly. So many artists worked on the film that got and deserved credit…we can look back and point to lead animators like Eric Goldberg, who was in charge of developing the genie, and the co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker, who had Robin Williams in mind and approached him with fingers crossed that he would do it.
The characters of Aladdin and Jasmine have continued to resonate far beyond the release of the film. Aladdin had yet another animation superstar, Glen Keane as supervising animator, who also developed Ariel in The Little Mermaid and Beast from Beauty and the Beast.
Jasmine’s singing voice was provided by Broadway performer Lea Salonga (who was hired based on her work in Miss Saigon) and had female character specialist Mark Henn as lead animator. His influences for her included his own sister and actress Jennifer Connelly.
We remember going to the Sotheby’s auction and the enthusiasm for the work of these animators. Aladdin is one of the wonderful films in which we can really see these 2D animators do their best.
Also, for the Aladdin poster, our friend and consummate movie poster artist John Alvin was tapped to do the entire adult campaign. We have some wonderful examples of his process in the gallery, and not only did John Alvin create the advance, but actually several images used around the world to promote the film.
Disney wanted to see lots of images before they decided which ones to use, so John Alvin had various sizes of fully rendered art. Here is one example:
Check out all our Aladdin art at ArtInsights. Meanwhile, we congratulate all those involved with this classic film and are so glad to know only the animators who build the film, but also some great artists who have done official interpretive art, like John Rowe’s Endless Diamond Sky and Rodel Gonzalez’s Flight Over Agrabah.
Go celebrate Robin Williams and traditional 2D animation today, on Aladdin’s 25th anniversary!
Famed Drag & Contemporary Artist TENNESSEE LOVELESS appearing in person
to sign book and release new art for “DRAG FRIDAY”and “SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY” at ArtInsights Gallery! Meet ‘10SC’ on November 24 & 25 from 2 – 6 pm
Reston, VA – In conjunction with ‘Black Friday’ holiday events at Reston Town Center and Small Business Saturday, ArtInsights welcomes Tennessee Loveless for a book signing and an exhibit of original and limited edition art from the new retrospective book “The Art of Tennessee Loveless” and the worldwide exclusive premiere of new images from The Art Outsiders Project by Tennessee Loveless. The Art Outsiders is a portrait collection of important and influential creators who, through their struggle and determination, have changed the world with their unique genius. The Chicago-based, internationally known artist will be making a personal appearance 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Friday, November 24 and Saturday, November 25 at ArtInsights Gallery, 11921 Freedom Drive, Reston, VA.There is a display and sale of his original and limited edition art from the book “The Art of Tennessee Loveless: The Mickey Mouse TEN x TEN x TEN Contemporary Pop Art Series”, the first ever art retrospective on an openly gay artist in Disney’s history, and from his “Art Outsiders” series, including new limited editions of Prince, Grace Jones, Judy Garland, and Billie Holiday. As always, gallery admission is free. For more information, contact ArtInsights at 703-478-0778 and visit HYPERLINK “http://www.artoutsiders.net” www.artoutsiders.net.
The new book release is important because it marks the first time Disney publishing has released an art book representing an artist who is out and proud.Tennessee is also known for several other projects, including the “Drag Landscapes”, where he creates portraits of drag artists, and similarly to Art Outsiders, tells the story of these performers, whom he travels the world to interview, inside the body of the portrait.Tennessee’s career included and Award-winning stint working as Disney Consumer Products, so it’s a natural, as well as an honor, that Disney would choose him to represent this important first in their publishing portfolio.
His fine art representative and partner in The Art Outsiders project is ArtInsights owner Leslie Combemale. The gallery is excited to have the artist present to unveil new limited editions from the ever-expanding Art Outsiders series on the holiday weekend. From her perspective, the fact that Loveless is colorblind and limited in his ability to see color, is a fascinating after-thought in considering Loveless’ unique talent and artistic voice. “Tennessee’s art comes from his entire being, and his life experience. It’s true he has had to choose colors based on psychology rather than a personal visual understanding, but that is only one aspect creating the unique depth of his images. The TEN x TEN x TEN series is a fascinating look at how a popular icon can be manipulated to inject cultural context.The Art Outsiders project, for example, he is entirely immersing himself in the lives of the artists he is painting. He is speaking to their struggle, importance, and relevance. I’m thrilled it’s being so well received. People either love or hate his art, and I think that’s a great sign! It’s true for all iconoclastic contemporary artists”.
ABOUT TENNESSEE LOVELESS
Tennessee is inspired by his fascination with pop art, flamboyant fashion and film icons, and the underground drag culture. Although he attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, he began his career in earnest by painting drag queens in San Francisco. Simultaneously, while gaining recognition for that work, he became an product developer and artist at Disney, where he ultimately came to prominence with the 10x10x10 series, one hundred iconic silhouettes of Mickey Mouse’s face expressing a pop journey, exploring the history of the icon, while bringing global, societal, and personal context to the imagery. He has created art for an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival, was honored with a Smithsonian Artist Residency Fellowship, has been the featured artist in Anthology Magazine, and made one of the “People of the Year” in Instinct Magazine. The darling of contemporary art collectors around the world, he has been an artist in residence in Berlin, Paris, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Chicago. He was the 2016 official Summer Olympics artist with designs created for Speedo representing Brazil and USA, created the logo for drag queen superstar Shea Coulee, and was the official artist for Chicago Pride 2017. More information is available at HYPERLINK “http://tennesseeloveless.com/” www.tennesseeloveless.com
Loveless comes by his love of drag through his own experience as an accomplished drag performer both in San Francisco and Seattle with Trannyshack, the drag performance group founded by Hecklina at the Stud bar in San Francisco in 1996. He is also the founder and programmer of the Internet music show Beautiful Noise Broadcast, which has since morphed into Gorgeous Sound Underground.
ABOUT ARTINSIGHTS GALLERY
ArtInsights is a privately owned gallery located just outside Washington DC at 11921 Freedom Drive, Reston, Virginia, in Reston Town Center. The gallery focuses on official art from all the major studios, including Disney, DC, Marvel, and Warner Bros., as well as proprietary projects and artist representation relating to the history of animation and film, and the celebration and examination of popular culture. With artists like Tennessee Loveless, John Alvin, and Jim Salvati, the gallery builds collections of original and limited edition art for their growing worldwide collector base. Open since 1994, and co-owned by Combemale, ArtInsights is expanding to allow the display of the contemporary work of artists and art projects represented by Combemale Creative, her company for international art consulting and artistic representation. The gallery has Loveless’ Art Outsiders art as well as representative art from his entire career, including drag queens and 10x10x10. Visit ArtInsights at HYPERLINK “http://www.artinsights.com/” www.artinsights.com. For more information about The Art Outsiders project and Tennessee Loveless, visit HYPERLINK “http://artoutsiders.net/” artoutsiders.net.
The truth is, it’s very hard to get something surprising, special, and unusual enough to be remembered far beyond the holidays. We’ve always been so happy that ArtInsights, and film, animation, and contemporary art, is one way to make the season brighter. It isn’t just about buying something, is it? If you’re going to offer a gift, It’s knowing those you love well enough, spending the time, being inventive, and really expressing appreciation about them being in your life. That’s what takes a holiday to an even more special place. WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED!
The way people’s eyes light up when they see their favorite characters represented, or the passion they recognize in a portrait of, say, David Bowie, that corresponds with what Bowie’s music has meant to them. Those are frequent occurrences here. There’s no better time than when we hear how a gift of art from our gallery is received.
With that in mind, here are some great options for those searching for that special piece. We have a wide variety of prices and images, so we’ll just post links here, and you can click through and see whole collections. Also, please bear in mind that we have lots of pieces in the gallery that are even less expensive that what we show here on our website, but as we ship internationally, we tend to just keep most pieces under $100 for those calling or stopping by to find that ‘little something’…
Let’s start with this page of things we have framed and in-stock, much of which is hard to get, sold out, or special…it’s by no means exhaustive, but there are some interesting, and beautiful art options HERE.
If you are a fan of Tennessee Loveless (and who isn’t, with the release of his new book on October 31st, 10x10x10, The Art of Tennessee Loveless?!) he will be here Thanksgiving weekend for Drag Friday (happening on Black Friday, obviously!) and we will have new limited editions from The Art Outsiders, of Prince, Grace Jones, and Billie Holiday, as well as new 10x10x10 images that appear in the book. You can see all his work HERE. (you can buy the new book from us or from Amazon.)
THE ART OF DISNEY:
The best art for the holidays for gifting is often from the Treasures on Canvas collection, which can be found HERE:
(we loved this new Moana piece, and quickly got it for the gallery!)
THE ART OF MARVEL:
Alex Ross has done some great images for Marvel this year, and the price range starts at only $75! We have a limited number of images for that price of Captain America and Doctor Strange, as well as a few other well-priced “under the table” images–Call us. For other Marvel art, go HERE.
THE ART OF HARRY POTTER:
We just had a Harry Potter event over Halloween, and were able to get some wonderful, exclusive images to sell. We also have original art used in the making of the films. Of course, as always, all the art is created by artists who actually worked on the films or books. You can find all our Harry Potter art HERE.
Two images have been double signed by Dan Radcliffe and concept artist Jim Salvati, and they can be bought together for $1500, or you can buy just the Golden Snitch image for $750. Only ten exist from this exclusive duo-signed set, and only 2 are left for sale.
THE ART OF DC COMICS:
Timing, timing, timing. If it isn’t the blockbuster hit Wonder Woman, that broke all the records for female directors, it’s The Justice League. DC is all over 2017. Maybe this is the perfect time to get some Wonder Woman or Batman art? Or something will the whole Justice League? A link with lots of great DC art is HERE.
If you live within driving distance, we also have some great hard-to-find framed movie posters, including The Fly, Gremlins, Aliens, and The Black Hole. There are production cels and original drawings here, too, including an original, signed original cel of all three of The Powerpuff Girls together. Between what is in the gallery and what is on our new, (not completely perfect, but getting better all the time) website, we hope shopping with us will be fun and solve the evergreen problem of “let’s get something super cool, but what?”
I’m sure we can find some art here that will make the end of 2017 a bit more memorable and joyful for you and yours!
Best of the holiday season to you all, and hope to hear from you or see you soon!
We at ArtInsights are expanding, contracting, moving, shaking, and all good things. We are in the midst of adding some elements to our brick and mortar store, and at the same time making our website (hopefully) easier to navigate, as well as easier to maneuver when you want to buy!
As many of you know, even thought we are experts and have wonderful relationships with a lot of Disney and film artists, we have starting creating partnerships with contemporary artists that we are very excited about and fills us with pride. After being in business over 25 years, we wanted to add a component to ArtInsights that had social resonance
As I’m writing this, I’m considering what has happened in Las Vegas.A friend lost someone there, and it reaffirmed the desire on my part, as art director, to only add art to the world that has a healing, or contemplative, or politically resonant component. We live in complicated times.Times that require us to come together.Some of us are related to, or connected to, people we don’t understand or agree with.This is the time when, if nothing else, art will bridge that gap.
With that in mind, I want to let all our collectors and fans know we will have both studio art, meaning LucasFilm, Marvel, DC, Disney, and rogue film art like Blade Runner represented, and will be slowly adding our new projects under the heading of contemporary art. We are going to keep them separate, and there will be changes in the physical gallery coming up that will do that as well.We hope you’ll come by and see what we have done when everything is all pulled together, and of course visit between now and then as well!
First thing on the agenda, after the sprucing of our new website, is to get a new door into our gallery to the front of the center, because there is a huge building being constructed across the street.We’ll also have an awning to make us a bit more noticeable.The interior of the gallery will be going through some changes as well, but those will be a bit slower in happening, since we want to construct a few cool elements that will take some design.
Check back often here on the site, and of course you can always give us a call at the gallery if you’re curious about some of the contemporary art projects we’re working on, or you are thinking of adding some contemporary art to any of your environments.We have been are will be doing art consulting, both here and abroad in Europe and Asia.
Thanks so much and we look forward to exciting you with great new images of the best studio and contemporary art for collectors old and new!
SO EXCITED ABOUT OUR SDCC 2017 San Diego Comic-Con panels!
We have the announcement for the dates, times, and panelists for our panels at San Diego Comic-Con 2017!For those of you going, let us know and we’ll try to get you in to the panel of your choice.For those of you hanging back at home or on your yearly vacation with your toes in the sand and your head in the clouds, we will be filming them as usual and posting them when we return!
We are thrilled and honored by those who have helped once again to make these panels happen, not least the folks at ASIFA: Hollywood, Women in Animation, and Women in Film: LA, as well as the Women Rocking Hollywood sponsor, Wattpad Studios.
if you want an idea of the crazy experiences and what I do, go over to Barb, for which I wrote a little something:
1:00-2:00 Women Rocking Hollywood: Women Directors Changing the Face of Film and Television Wonder Woman broke all records in Hollywood for a film helmed by a female directors.Now What? While there’s still a long way to go to equal the number of women behind the camera with women, who make up 51% of the population, shows like Jessica Jones, Queen Sugar, and The Leftovers are making a huge difference by committing to the inclusion of female directors. This 2nd annual panel at SDCC focuses on the incredibly talented, successful women expanding opportunities for women in film who have made noise and winning awards with their work on both the big and small screens. Scheduled to appear: Kirsten Schaffer (exec director, Women in Film: LA) Tina Mabry (writer/producer/director: Queen of the South, director: Dear White People) Rosemary Rodriguez (writer/director: Silver Skies, director: Jessica Jones, The Walking Dead) Victoria Mahoney (director: Queen Sugar, Gypsy, American Crime) DeMane Davis (writer/director: Lift, director: Queen Sugar) Angela Robinson (writer/director: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, True Blood) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (writer/director: Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights), the first woman of color hired to helm a superhero film for the upcoming Silver & Black.. Moderated by Leslie Combemale (Cinema Siren). Room 23ABC
10:00 to 11:00 Cartoon Creatives: Woman Power in Animation In this 2nd annual panel at SDCC, we examine the history and trajectory of women working inside feature and TV animation, and talk to directors and show runners of animated shows and specials across networks and studios, as well as a historian bringing to light some great hidden figures in our past. These inspiring women are show invention and creativity that is expanding the industry. They talk about the rich history of women in animation, their mentors, what’s happening industry-wide, and inside their own exciting shows. Scheduled to appear are Marge Dean (co-president, WIA, supervising producer SuperMansion) Mindy Johnson (film historian, author of the upcoming “Ink & Paint-The Women of Disney Animation”) Victoria Ying (visual development, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, Moana) Shadi Petosky (writer/producer Danger & Eggs, founder, Puny Studios) Julia Vickerman (writer, Powerpuff Girls, director, Rad Lands, Twelve Forever) Elaine Bogan (director, Trollhunters, Dragons: Race to the Edge) . Moderated by Leslie Combemale (CinemaSiren.com). Room 23ABC
1:00-2:00 Women Rocking Hollywood: Women Directors Changing the Face of Film and Television Wonder Woman broke all records in Hollywood for a film helmed by a female directors.Now What? While there’s still a long way to go to equal the number of women behind the camera with women, who make up 51% of the population, shows like Jessica Jones, Queen Sugar, and The Leftovers are making a huge difference by committing to the inclusion of female directors. This 2nd annual panel at SDCC focuses on the incredibly talented, successful women expanding opportunities for women in film who have made noise and winning awards with their work on both the big and small screens. Scheduled to appear: Kirsten Schaffer (exec director, Women in Film: LA) Tina Mabry (writer/producer/director: Queen of the South, director: Dear White People) Rosemary Rodriguez (writer/director: Silver Skies, director: Jessica Jones, The Walking Dead) Victoria Mahoney (director: Queen Sugar, Gypsy, American Crime) Aurora Guerrero (writer/director: Mosquita y Mari, director: Queen Sugar) Angela Robinson (writer/director: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, True Blood) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (writer/director: Love & Basketball, Beyond the Lights), the first woman of color hired to helm a superhero film for the upcoming Silver & Black.. Moderated by Leslie Combemale (Cinema Siren). Room 23ABC
Wish us luck!We’ll have our wonderful new salesgirl and wonder woman, Holly, here for part of while we’ll be gone, and you can check on our message machine or give the gallery a call for our hours while we’re in SDCC.There will also be some SDCC releases you might want to find out about, and we’ll be posting about them the first day we are able and allowed!
Live long and prosper, do or do not, allons-y, etc.,
Leslie, Michael, Holly, and Christine, the whole SDCC gang.
About parking in Reston Town Center. Those of you who know us know we don’t ask anyone to do anything we wouldn’t do. While we don’t have a philosophical issue with paid parking in general and in Reston Town Center in specific, We aren’t pleased at all with the choices they’ve made putting it together and publicizing it. A number of you don’t want to have to download the app, which requires saying yes to a number of permissions. Beyond that, the technology utilized for parking involves taking a picture of your license plate. On the Reston Town Center website, it says the system doesn’t keep the picture after you leave. Some will be comfortable with that, others won’t.
COME ON THE WEEKENDS WHEN IT’S FREE!!Starting next weekend, our hours:
Monday through Friday 10-6, Saturdays 10-6, Sundays 12-5.
Should you WANT to come during the week, we will validate your parking with any purchase.Either way we’re happy to see you, and thrilled with your support. We want to continue to grow and be happy about being here, because for the most part the company that now owns the center has been great. If they see significant damage to their position in the marketplace, they might make some changes, but we don’t want our gallery or any of the small businesses in the center to bear the brunt of their mistakes!so again:
VISIT US ON THE WEEKENDS!That way you can still enjoy all the great aspects of Reston Town Center.
Meanwhile, do let us know positive suggestions and thoughts in the comments!
Best and warmest to you all,
Michael and Leslie and the whole Artinsights crew.
What does 2017 bring for ArtInsights? What can our friends and fans expect? We’re very excited about our plans, and we’d love to tell you a bit about them!
2016, by all accounts, was a pretty iffy year. We, like the rest of the art world, were challenged by the experiences, losses, and surprises we all faced. In the US, many artistic people are concerned about the future in a Trump presidency, even as our right-leaning friends suggest there’s nothing to worry about. We have many wonderful LGBTQ and immigrant clients, so yes, we worry.
With that in mind, we have an amazing new project we will be promoting with Tennessee Loveless. We can’t talk about it, really, but it is spectacular and very exciting. It is political in nature. How does this fit in with a gallery that focuses on animation and film art, you ask? Well….
We are going to split focus starting in 2017. It has been in the works for some time now. As many of you may know, I (Leslie) have been working directly with artists creating and building proprietary projects unique to ArtInsights. Two examples are The Art Outsiders with Tennessee Loveless, and The Image Projects with Jim Salvati. Both projects just seem to be getting better and better, and more known, and we couldn’t be happier about that.
Here is our favorite piece so far from the “Musician’s Image”, a collection of music legends created not from any single picture, but from studying many different pictures and extrapolating a unique image from the collection of them.
Those of you who are artists know how impressive this is. Very few artists can do this, but Jim Salvati excels at just that. We have been slowly building our collection of these images and have some great announcements about the collection we’ll be making very soon. Jim also started the “Sporting Image” with his instant classic representing Arnold Palmer. We’ll be adding to that soon as well. All these are part of a greater plan, and are going somewhere we can’t talk about at present, but those who are interested in commissioning their favorite musician or sports figure should contact me soon so they can get in on our plan, because it’s super cool (as are most things in which Jim takes part!) Of course Jim and I have to approve the image as part of our collection, but there are many very famous and wonderful musicians and athletes not yet spoken for…
Tennessee Loveless continues to get hotter. Not only does he spend much of his “free time” building his collection of interviews and portraits for his personal project “Drag Landscapes”, he also just gets better with each successive Art Outsider portrait. That’s not so say the first few aren’t amazing, they still floor me when I see them. He’s just always changing, always evolving. The latest pieces are just beautiful, especially Marlene Dietrich and Kate Bush (someone who inspired us both in our youth through to today).
He just charges forward, and he has more commissions already committed, as well as our new project that will be unveiled all at once, instead of one at a time. Believe us, they will be more potent that way! Follow us to see the art as it is released and announced, and of course if you are interested in a commission, let us know as soon as possible, especially as more is happening in his and our world together we can’t even talk about that will significantly influence his fame and, by extension, the prices of his originals!
(Marlene Dietrich Art Outsiders by Tennessee Loveless: contact us if interested)
As to the splitting of focus, we will still be representing the best of interpretive and original film and animation art, it just won’t be front and center on our site or our brick and mortar store. Maybe you noticed we changed our name. We are now “ArtInsights Gallery of Film and Contemporary Art. We will have a new website that reflects all the new and awesome work we’ll be offering… and it will be a BETTER, SEARCHABLE site! (HURRAY!) We will also have a dedicated section of our site, and will be happy to build your collections using our 28 years of experience. We just are finding ourselves more and more committed to contemporary art and the artists who are searching for a place to speak their vision. We want to help them speak, and find their audience, in any way we can. We have not only the aforementioned projects,
and are EVER committed to representing and promoting the work of the incomparable and amazing film artist JOHN ALVIN, (who, in 2016, broke all records for the highest price for a piece of film key art with the 396k sale at auction of the E.T. movie poster original!)
but we have new ones in the works we are building in 2017!
We also have a great artist new to ArtInsights we will be promoting in the U.S. who is very successful and popular in his home country of England, Mark Davies. His work will just blow you away.
Our show, which we are actively building as we speak, is a passion of mine and continues to excite me. SO MANY IDEAS! Check out our new limited edition from his last show, all of which have remarques on them.
If you find his work compelling, contact us soon, because his work is going to go up in price really fast! Right now, originals are around $6000 to $7000, and he loves nearly any movie you can imagine. If he doesn’t, i’ll let you know and talk you out of it…you know my favorite movies? He’s creating art from a number of them. How synergistic is that for me, a film critic/art gallery owner? VERY.
Lastly, those who live nearby or come to visit on occasion may have heard Reston Town Center is siting to paid parking as of January of 2017. We have taken proactive action on behalf of our clients and friends. We will validate your parking during the week, but also, since parking is free on the weekends, we’ll be open on both Saturday and Sunday, so we suggest coming to visit us then, because we’ll be making ArtInsights so much fun on the weekends you’ll WANT to come by!
We continue to be honored and touched by the support and loyalty of the clients and friends of ArtInsights. After over 22 years in business, we are so appreciative to those who keep showing up, seeing what’s new, and embracing exciting new art year after year.
We know you could go anywhere. And yet, you show up again and again, take our advice on new artists, and celebrate inventive, creative art we show you, whatever its origin or subject matter. That is beyond cool. It’s why we keep doing what we do. Happy New Year to you all, and thanks for all your support, from Michael and I.
We are really excited to be partnering with Alex Ross Art at New York Comic-Con! We’ll be there at booth 2328 from October 6th to Sunday the 9th.If you have tickets, come see us.If you don’t, they still have tickets for Thursday HERE. The rest of the weekend is sold out.We posted about our exclusives HERE.We also have two new pieces being premiered there, which include the wonderful GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY image which you can read all about and order HERE. …and there’s the exclusive premiere of CRISIS!
An image fans have been begging for for years, and we’re happy to bring it to you at NYCC!! The information on that is HERE. Watch this blog, the front page of our website, and our Facebook page for the big reveal!
It was very exciting to be part of the decision of what the pieces would be, given the fact that having an exclusive at New York Comic-Con is such a big deal, but the folks at Alex Ross Art really wanted us to be a part of it all.The Guardians of the Galaxy art being premiered is representative of one of my very favorite Marvel movies, and is the first time a production artist and production art of that series is being recreated as a limited edition.The Crisis image is a HUGE deal to DC fans, so we are psyched! I want it myself <3
We are offering up the two exclusives at only one hour past the release at NYCC, so those of you who can’t make it or hate crowds or live far away can take advantage of the release and get a great low number if you go online on Thursday at 11:00 Eastern Standard Time.We’ll take the orders as they come in, so as soon as you buy, we set the lowest number aside 🙂
They also gave us #1 in almost every edition they have created to date, which is wonderful for fans who love to get that special number.It is usually kept in the archives but they really wanted to make a big splash at this convention, so they pulled out all the stops.So glad we will be there as part of the fun!
PERSONAL NOTES ON THE ART:
As to the exclusives, I’ll tell you why I was particularly pleased with being able to have the images we’ll have in particular.The Captain America image is super dramatic and as friends of mine know, he and Thor are my favorite Marvel characters, and always have been.The Batman piece is great because, as silly as this sounds, I love when Batman actually looks like a bat, because bats, along with hummingbirds, are my favorite creatures in all the world.
The Doctor Strange, although it has the smallest edition size, is my favorite of the three exclusives, because i’m really excited for the new movie and love all the trippy aspects of his storyline and the continuing journey from dark to light and back his character takes….and Benedict Cumberbatch.
I had to do research about Stephen Strange as part of representing the art and WOAH.He has a seriously dark past with lots of loss.I’m very intrigued to see the movie!The character is very different from any others up till now, and there’s a spiritual element along with the archetypal Joseph Campbell-type stuff in it that makes me such a Star Wars fan.
We’ll be gone while we’re in NYC and the gallery will be closed for those days, but you all can email me with questions or concerns, or to see if we’ll have any of the exclusives left.
Wish us luck, and the right kind of Con-craziness!
Playing for a week in four theaters across the country and available on blu-ray and on iTunes August 26th, FLOYD NORMAN: AN ANIMATED LIFE is a delightful and fascinating documentary about “Disney Legend” Norman, who is widely regarded as the first African-American animator, hired at Walt Disney Studios in 1956.The tagline for this movie says “Animator. Storyman. Troublemaker.”, and whether you are one of Floyd’s many friends in the animation industry, or someone experiencing him for the first time through the documentary, there’s no question all three labels are equally true. The term “floydering” was coined in reference to this man, who continued to go to Disney every day after he retired, to draw, visit, and interact with other artists all day.He is equal parts an easygoing, gregarious, friend-to-all, and a rabble-rouser who doesn’t suffer fools or bullying of those around him, regardless of the source.
It’s easy to find much to appreciate in the way Norman’s life is presented without too much interference by the filmmakers.The kudos for that go to co-directors Erik Sharkey and Michael Fiore. It’s Norman himself and the people who know him best who do the narrating.The audience is able to get a real sense of the man as the sum of his past experiences and how they have informed his current life.
The film begins with Norman’s wife Adrienne, also an artist and currently at Disney, as she describes what it’s like to go to work at Disney publishing with her retired husband only to find him hours later in the office he has adopted for his “post-retirement”.What she jokingly calls squatting he reframes as a friendly face, visiting and giving helpful hints.Since Norman has been working with Disney on and off as an animator and story artist since the 50s, it’s advice they should consider very carefully. He was let go and rehired repeatedly, and each time he departed, he went off to do something fascinating and noteworthy.In the 60s, he started a production company that wound up capturing the riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles on film.If you saw footage from that time, it was probably his company that filmed it.His company was also responsible for creating the animated sequence in the opening of the famed dance show Soul Train. Even now, he’s a fixture at San Diego Comic-Con, a part of an extremely popular panel called“Quick Draw” with his friend Sergio Aragones of Mad Magazine fame. He was also on my panel this year about diversity in the history of animation, and you can get to know him a bit here, and see why you might want to know all about his life and experiences:
As someone who knows Floyd, his family, and animator friends, it’s hard not to be biased towards the celebration of his life. In fact, when I know a filmmaker, I tend to be even more critical, just to make sure i’m not seeing through ‘rose-colored glasses’. However, FLOYD NORMAN: AN ANIMATED LIFE has twists, surprises, and the sort of story arc that even the most objective viewer can appreciate. These attributes are no less essential to a good documentary than to the best fictional releases, and they exist here without feeling forced or contrived. The audience is treated to a wide variety of celebrities and artists talking about the man that is often labeled “The Forrest Gump of animation”. There is a balance of intimacy, when he, his close friends, and his family consider some of the more difficult times of his life, and humor, especially in the animated sequences by various artists that offer a nod to Norman’s own often satirical comic illustrations.
Incidentally, it’s those comic illustrations he’s been doing since the 50s that have propelled him into all sorts of new adventures.They speak to his acerbic wit and willingness to fearlessly speak his mind, but as the best artists do,through his art.The most inspiring aspect of FLOYD NORMAN: AN ANIMATED LIFE is the fact that as straightforward and opinionated as he is and always has been, he has still succeeded and thrived as an artist.One might even say those traits are some of his greatest gifts.In this day of tiptoeing around the corporate world, and staying silent to stay safe, Floyd Norman proves there is a way to be kind, be true to yourself, and be honest, all at the same time, and live a long happy life by continuing to doing so.
For those of you who frequent either my art gallery Artinsights or the website Cinema Siren, we are going to be at SDCC 2016 next week with three panels.That means we won’t be in the gallery, but we WILL be creating amazing stories and memories.Anyone who will be at Comic-Con International: San Diego, I hope you’ll come to whatever panels interest you we’ve put together!And i’ll take this moment to thank all the amazing women and men who have supported, promoted, or are taking part in any way in these events.One thing i’ve learned and will never forget is that there are genuine, enthusiastic, people in LA and working in Hollywood who still maintain their optimism and believe in making the world of film better!
You may not believe this, but there are actually nice, well-meaning agents and studio reps. YES, YOU HEARD ME!
Here are the three panels I’ve spent the better part of the last year putting together.Do I believe in the subject matter? YES! There are lots of people spending hours outside their actual job trying to make change, and they deserve to be heard.As long as I can and whatever way I can, i’ll shine a spotlight on anyone with vision and an open heart.I invite you to do all you can to promote these people, and anyone who is working to make Hollywood more diverse and inclusive, while providing AWESOME entertainment!Also let me send out a hearty thanks and express my gratitude to both Wattpad, the sponsor for our Women Rocking Hollywood panel, and Women In Animation, who sponsored our Cartoon Creatives panel.
4:30 – 5:30 Cartoon Creatives: Women Power in Animation–While Women in Animation’s initiative strives to have a 50/50 workforce in the animation world by 2025, there are women leading the charge right now, creating, innovating, and guiding cartoons into a future filled with talent that goes beyond gender, and their fans are loving every minute of it. Scheduled to appear are Lauren Faust (creator, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) Brooke Keesling (director of animation talent development at Disney TV Animation) Lauren Montgomery (co-executive producer, Voltron: Legendary Defender) Stevie Wermers-Skelton (co-director, the upcoming Frozen Holiday Special) Gina Shay (producer, the upcoming Trolls) Katie Krentz (senior director of development: Cartoon Network, Steven Universe), Daron Nefcy (creator/executive producer, Star vs. the Forces of Evil) and Marge Dean (co-president, Women in Animation) to discuss their experiences and upcoming projects. Moderated by Leslie Combemale of Animation Scoop.Rm 24ABC
1:30 – 2:30 Cartoon Legends Speak: Diversity in the History of Animation–A panel featuring great artists including Disney Legend, and first African-American animator hired at Walt Disney Studios, Floyd Norman (The Jungle Book, Monsters, Inc), first African-American animator to get a screen credit and award winning illustrator Ron Husband (The Rescuers, The Little Mermaid), Japanese-American and Inkpot winner Willie Ito (Lady & the Tramp, The Flintstones), Jane Baer (Sleeping Beauty, Roger Rabbit) discuss their careers, their futures, and how diversity has played a role in their artistic lives. Moderated by Leslie Combemale of Animation Scoop. Room: 24ABC
2:00 – 3:00 Women Rocking Hollywood–This exciting new panel features powerful, talented women changing Hollywood from the inside. As creatives, directors, and producers, they are breaking box office records and showing Hollywood altering the status-quo just makes for better movies. Scheduled to appear are Victoria Alonso (exec producer, Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War), Deborah Snyder (producer, Wonder Woman, Justice League) Angela Robinson (writer/director, D.E.B.S., True Blood, How to Get Away With Murder) Catherine Hardwicke (director, Twilight, upcoming Love Letters to the Dead) and Kirsten Schaffer (exec director, Women in Film: LA)talking about positive changes in tinsel town, their work, and future projects. Marvel, DC, blockbusters, indies, and powerful women-This panel brings it all! Moderated by Leslie Combemale of Cinema Siren. Room: 25ABC
If you won’t be at SDCC, as many around the world, you can watch our panels on our YouTube Cinema Siren and ArtInsights channels, or you wait and see them when we post them on our websites.As for ArtInsights, we’ll be back on Wednesday, July 27th.Come visit, call, or chat online.Meanwhile you can also read a bit more about my experience putting together the panels HERE on my column for Animation Scoop.
So now that it’s on the official schedule on the comic-con website, I can officially announce my first panel in San Diego! I am honored to have such an amazing collection of women taking part in this discussion. Marge Dean, of Women in Animation, who are sponsoring the panel, will be explaining the current state of the industry, and we will be chatting with some super creative people about their ideas, artistry, and inspiration!
HERE IS THE WRITE-UP:
4:30 Thursday, July 21st.
While Women in Animation’s initiative strives to have a 50/50 workforce in the animation world by 2025, there are women leading the charge right now, creating, innovating, and guiding cartoons into a future filled with talent that goes beyond gender, and their fans are loving every minute of it. Scheduled to appear are Lauren Faust (creator, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), Brooke Keesling(director of animation talent development at Disney TV Animation), Lauren Montgomery (co-executive producer, Voltron Legendary Defenders), Stevie Wermers-Skelton (co-director, the upcoming Frozen Holiday Special), Gina Shay (producer, the upcoming Trolls), Katie Krentz (director of development: Cartoon Network, Steven Universe), Daron Nefcy (creator/executive producer, Star vs. the Forces of Evil) and Marge Dean (co-president, Women in Animation), talking about their experiences and upcoming projects. Moderated by Leslie Combemale of Animation Scoop. Room 24ABC.
If you are going to the con, go to the site and let us know you’re coming to our panel! We have some cool giveaways, and smart, talented women have created some of the best animation out there!
Lots has been happening in the world of the superhero, and now is the perfect time to update fans of superhero art! Have you seen Captain America: Civil War yet? Well, surprisingly timely is the roll-out of the new Alex Ross art collection, and it’s just getting started.We are happy to be part of their team of galleries, and one of only three with the first assortment actually physically in the gallery, so you can get your eyes on the art.
You may be wondering what all the fuss is about, since Alex Ross art has been available to fans since the days of the Warner Brothers stores.Don’t worry, I’m here to explain it to you.
Those of you who have been following the career of Alex Ross, who of late has had exhibits in the likes of the Warhol and Rockwell museums, and has been placed in national museums around the world, know that Ross has been one of the very few comic book and pop culture illustrators to help break that art into the “real art” world.This is actually a big deal, especially for those who believe the work by the creators of comic books deserve artistic recognition like me.
The story behind how Ross and his own team started a new art program is pretty innocuous. Apparently he just wanted control of his own artistic destiny, and they figured now is the time.
The company that first sold his art was Clampett Studio, which is run by people who basically made him famous through his exposure in the Warner Brothers stores. In fact, Clampett Studio, and the artists they represent, should absolutely be on your radar and here’s why: Clampett Studio, which is run by Ruth Clampett, the daughter of famed Warner Brothers animator Bob Clampett, is the one company that sells art of the comic books, cartoons, and film that only sells art created by artists who actually work on the movies.THEY ARE THE ONLY ONE.and what’s more, they support the artists.Once someone works with them, they never look back.If you love the art of Alex Ross, you partially have Ruth Clampett and those who work with her to thank.
As i mentioned, she still has art by Alex Ross available, but those signed by him are selling out fast.We can access and sell you anything on her website, and I urge you to support her artists and collections.Jim Lee is still part of her assortment, for example, as is all the OFFICIAL art of Harry Potter.You can dive into the Alex Ross works available HERE.
For all the assortments on Clampett Studio, go HERE.
So, back to this new Alex Ross collection….they decided to take the reigns back and start their own art program. Normally, Warner Brothers wouldn’t let an artist make a decision like that, but this is Alex Ross. Now that they’ve taken the art program in-house, and with a big splash in Los Vegas with a release of Beatles art, they are forging forward.
The person in charge of their art program is an old friend, and I am absolutely 100% behind her and the Alex Ross Art program, because she always knows how to build a great collection, limit releases, and consider the collector. She is a fan, and a fan who knows the business is the best person in the world to create a lasting collection of art.
Now might be a good time for full disclosure. I haven’t always loved all of Ross’s work.I think some of it looks very frenetic, and too full of color.Yet, somehow, the new work has a calmness, a grace to it, that rises above much of the art i’ve seen before.For example, limiting the color palate in this collection of four images and making them a series that visually complements each other was brilliant.Also, the painting of Wonder Woman is, to my mind, one of the best pieces he’s ever done.The crazy thing is, it’s in an edition of only 50.I assume it’s because they want their first pieces to blow through and succeed with a sell out.YES!
What does all this mean for you?It means great art, well curated, considered, and controlled.The first release was impressive onscreen, but when it came in, I was gobsmacked. ESPECIALLY the Wonder Woman and the Captain America v Iron Man.If you’re in the area, come in and see the art.Also, I forgot to mention there are several pieces that are only $150, and on canvas, representing both DC and Marvel.I am sorely tempted to buy some of it myself!
Lastly, although it’s likely you won’t have access, we WILL be getting some originals by Alex to sell.While you can get art directly from his company, they will be releasing special production graphites that won’t be available through them that you can get from the galleries.Not only is this a great sign they are committed to the galleries, it also means we can get wonderful original art for his fans!
I hope you’ll come by if you live in the area, but if you don’t, I still hope you’ll peruse the art on Clampett Studios, and on our own site created by Alex Ross and buy from us.The museum exhibits coming up and the work he’s doing with both Marvel and DC speak to Ross’s expanding fame and success, and if you love comic books, his work is a great way to bring it into your home and celebrate your love of all things superhero! Also, he is one of the only artists who can create the art of the Beatles. Here’s the piece that’s both a limited edition, and very inexpensive:
In the history of our having the art of DC at ArtInsights, which has been over 23 years, I’ve seen some pretty spectacular cels and backgrounds from Batman and Superman.I have a particular fondness for art from Batman: The Animated Series.I remember one background of the Arkham Asylum that was all dark blues and blacks, with some gorgeous details and a creep factor that rose above Nigel Tufnel’s 11.
I also remember a cel of Batman that had absolutely everything anyone who loved the character would want.He was next to the Batmobile, gadgets in-hand, cape flying.I’ve learned that really the first season of episodes from Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 are the best in terms of art.After a while, creator and character designer Bruce Timm altered the way the cartoon looked, making it more anime-inspired, which was fun to watch, but not nearly as compelling as art.
The people of Clampett Studio Collections who have the rights to sell animation from these cartoons know my taste.They know I really only want cels and backgrounds from the early part of the series.They know I also feel that way about the Superman series. The problem is, it’s been years since the show, and there’s not nearly as much available now as there first was.Imagine my giddy pleasure at opening up what they sent for our Batman v Superman: The Art of DC show and finding a really great assortment of older and newer cels!
Many fans know this, but occasional viewers may not be aware of the star power utilized as voice talent on Batman: The Animated Series.Kevin Conroy won out over reputedly hundreds of other voice actor hopefuls, and to no surprise, given he studied at Juilliard under actor John Houseman, during which time he lived with Robin Williams.Here is an interview with him on a podcast…
Here’s a fun interview with Kevin at the Denver Comic-Con:
It was there I first learned Mark Hamill as The Joker had a singular ability as a voice artist, and indeed that’s what drove me to buy the audio book for World War Z, in which Hamill has an pivotal role.Here’s a great little vid about him and the character with both he and Bruce Timm:
Mark Hamill’s not the only well-cast actor, though.Here are just a few of the people you might recognize that take part in the series:
Melissa Gilbert: The former star of Little House on the Prairie plays Barbara Gordon and Batgirl
Marilou Henner: The actress from Taxi plays Veronica Vreeland
Adam West: TV’s favorite Batman plays Simon Trent and The Gray Ghost
Arleen Sorkin: The actress who plays Calliope Jones on Days of Our Lives is Harley Quinn
Paul Williams: The dude from Phantom of the Paradise and singer extraordinaire is The Penguin
Adrienne Barbeau: Former sex symbol and star of the original of Steven King’s The Myst is Catwoman
Ron Perlman: Hellboy is Clayface!
Roddy McDowall: The child star of Lassie and star of classic cult favorite Planet of the Apes is The Mad Hatter
Ed Asner: Multi-award winning vocal star of UP plays corrupt businessman Roland Daggett
Kate Mulgrew: Everyone’s favorite starship captain plays Red Claw
Helen Slater: Supergirl and the co-star of The Secret of My Success is Talia
Treat Williams: The star of 1979’s Hair plays Professor Achilles Milo
Michael York: The star of 1973’s The Three Musketeers and cult fave Logan’s Run is Count Werner Vertigo
I love that in 1992 Entertainment Weekly rated Batman: The Animated Series as one of the top shows of the year. It certainly endures as a longterm favorite among cartoon aficionados.I’m happy to have the art to sell and look at every day at my gallery. Here are a few favorites:
Reston, VA: ArtInsights Animation and Film Art Gallery is hosting an exhibit of limited edition and original comic book and animation art featuring Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, the characters soon to be the central focus of Zack Snyder’s new movie “Batman V Superman” premiering March 25th. Other popular DC Comics superheroes and villains will also be for sale and on display. The show runs from March 2 through April 4 at ArtInsights, 11921 Freedom Drive, Reston, Virginia 20190, in Reston Town Center.
The images on exhibit will encompass the work of a variety of well-known figures in the comics and cartoon world, including limited editions by Jim Lee, renowned artist and co-Publisher of DC Entertainment, and production art from Bruce Timm’s Batman and Superman animated series. Says Leslie Combemale, co-owner of ArtInsights, “I love that the world of movies is catching up to what comic book fans have known for years. Comic book art is real art, and so is production art from the superhero cartoons. It’s made by the artists who celebrate these characters and keep them at the forefront of pop culture. No one represents that more than Jim Lee, and we’re proud to have his art, and the art of these icons gracing our walls.” Continues Combemale, “It’s so much fun, seeing kids and cosplayers dressed as their favorite hero or villain, coming in. They often leave with art, but always with smiles on their faces!”
ABOUT ARTINSIGHTS ANIMATION AND FILM ART GALLERY
Established in 1994, ArtInsights is a privately owned gallery located just outside of Washington, DC at Reston Town Center, in Virginia. The gallery presents important images from the 20th and 21st century film art genre, including original art from the masters of film and moving entertainment. From film campaign artists to concept and layout artists to production designers and animators, ArtInsights represents a wide collection from the giants and up and comers of film art. The gallery exclusively represents the original art of the great cinema poster artist John Alvin, and also exhibits Tim Rogerson, Jim Salvati, Mike Kungl, and Chuck Jones, among others. Featured studios include Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, and 20th Century Fox. ArtInsights also features contemporary art by artists such as the innovative Tennessee Loveless, who is known for his portraits of drag queens and pop icons. With more than 30 years’ experience, the owners work with their worldwide collector base to build and insure the integrity of their collections. See and learn more on the website and on the web magazine, and hear and see movie reviews by owner Leslie Combemale’s alter ego, Cinema Siren, all of which are published on her site www.cinemasiren.com, as well as on Indiewire, Screenrelish.com, patch.com, and other recognized outlets dedicated to film worldwide.
Yes, the loss of Alan Rickman is felt acutely by lovers of Harry Potter and all those in the HP fandom.
Rickman brought Professor Snape to life in a way no one else could, and created a much bigger audience for the movies out of his many fans.As much as I loved the books, having Alan Rickman announced as Snape just made me all the more excited and committed to watching the entire film series.The film series is full of wonderful actors, but it is because of him, first and foremost, that I became so attached to it.
I’ve been to many conventions, been a part of lots of panels, and sold hundreds of pieces of official Harry Potter art.I’ve seen Alan Rickman in plays for years, and even felt a kinship because he was connected to RADA (I went there) and we shared a birthday (February 21st). I know from my fellow HP fans, collectors, and production artists that Snape, and by extension Alan Rickman as that character, came to be a representative for all things misunderstood, weird, and wonderful.
Snape was both good and bad, trapped and stymied by his overwhelming love and bitterness.He was a cautionary tale and an inspiration. There are few characters that do that as well.
As an actor, it’s a powerful legacy to have built from just one character.Of course many remember him as Hans Gruber from Die Hard, but he had a long and stellar career both on stage and screen. Sometimes he was the picture of subtlety, sometimes an intentional scenery-chewer, but always compelling to watch.
Reportedly, he was also kind and giving as a colleague and friend.Daniel Radcliffe said in 2014, “Alan has cut short holidays that he’s been having to come and see me in plays, and take me out for dinner afterwards to talk to me about stuff.I think when he realized how serious I was about wanting to be an actor, and he knew what a particular world the Potter set was to grow up in, he just sort of made it his – he just really wanted to help us all and has been very helpful to me, certainly.”
Here is what Dan wrote in tribute to Alan at his passing:
Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with. He is also, one of the loyalest and most supportive people I’ve ever met in the film industry. He was so encouraging of me both on set and in the years post-Potter. I’m pretty sure he came and saw everything I ever did on stage both in London and New York. He didn’t have to do that. I know other people who’ve been friends with him for much much longer than I have and they all say, ‘If you call Alan, it doesn’t matter where in the world he is or how busy he is with what he’s doing, he’ll get back to you within a day.’
People create perceptions of actors based on the parts they played so it might surprise some people to learn that contrary to some of the sterner (or downright scary) characters he played, Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass.
As an actor, he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child. Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career. Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man.
We were just preparing a show of Harry Potter art called “Sorcerers in Snow: Hogwarts in Winter”, when we were approached by the founder of the www.alwaysjkrowling.com site about raising awareness and funds for a charity Rowling had started called Lumos. Lumos endeavors to make the institutionalization of children in the world a distant memory. We backtracked and added that we’d donate 10% of sales proceeds to Lumos . Then this morning we found out fans had lost their Snape, and of course we wanted to donate to one of Rickman’s causes as well, so we added a charity he supported, Saving Faces. It does research, aids in treatment, and works to expand awareness about facial diseases like oral cancer. Both charities are worthy and important, and we always love having a charity component when we have an exhibit or collection.The idea is to hopefully do well and do good at the same time.
It feels like a way to channel our sadness at a loss, with a proactive way of celebrating not only the work of J.K Rowling, but the life of an amazing actor who inspired us with his work and life.We can bring attention to charities that might make the world a little better, and raise a little money for them as well.If you are interested in donating directly, or want more information on the charities, go to wearelumos.org http://wearelumos.org/and savingfaces.co.uk http://www.savingfaces.co.uk/.To see our collection of art from Harry Potter, go to our HARRY POTTER PAGE.
Below you’ll find Cinema Siren’s Top 10 Movie Posters of 2015, AS WELL AS added opinions and thoughts from Andrea Alvin and Bill McCloskey–both who were involved in the making of some of the best movie posters in recent film history!
The past is the past.As someone who celebrates traditional illustration in movie posters, it’s hard to say.It’s not that there are any nods or actual illustrations being used to promote new films, or that there won’t be a resurgence, but the era that genius artists like John Alvin and Richard Amsel made their own is gone forever.And there are reasons for that.Not only are many of the greats lost to us, having passed away, but more importantly, the world of film promotion has changed so significantly.When the artists who brought us posters like the one for E.T. and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK created their memorable images, the closest thing they had to a social network was word of mouth.An advance poster, as John Alvin would say, created “the promise of a great experience”.It had to. We as movie fans couldn’t click to see a trailer, or see a youtube featurette, or read about the coming attractions on the hundreds of film blogs vying for fans’ attentions.Just today, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange rose to the top of trending topics on Facebook.
So posters, and movie campaigns as a whole, have had to embrace and use the times.As a result, these top posters reflect the new way in which art directors, brand managers, and studios are leveraging fandoms around the world and the power of social media in their campaigns.Some of these images attempt to harken back to the golden age of movie posters, and some still attempt to grab and hold at least a fraction of the attention of curious film lovers with just one image. Good for them.As the representative of the estate of film artist John Alvin, I applaud them.It is through that experience, my knowledge as a film critic, a movie lover, and as an expert in film art, I offer my top movie posters of the year.
In the interest of you not just taking my word for it, I have also enlisted Bill McClosky, former art director at Intralink Film Graphic Design and Andrea Alvin, John Alvin’s wife and partner in Alvin and Associates, to add their comments and insights.
Since a blending of photoshop and photography creates the palette for most film posters these days, the best find ways to connect with the audience in a visceral way—and make potential viewers both curious and excited. This visual riff on a playing card shows an equal power between the masculine and the feminine in the film, while suggesting the action is both off kilter and off the charts.This poster reminds fans of the Divergent series while motivating potential viewers to check out the franchise.
Andrea Alvin: I like the formality and elegance of this design and its allusion to the ying and yang symbol. It’s an image of the two characters in a world that is coming apart. Its visually appealing and conceptually tells a story.
Bill McCloskey: I agree with both Leslie and Andrea on this one, in addition I think this does something very unique to movie posters – it changed orientation. One of the most frustrating things, as well as a benefit, as a designer of movie campaigns is the size and orientation of the poster is consistently one shape and one proportion, this campaign switches the focus to the top and the bottom of the frame, in addition to the symmetry of the opposing figures.
This campaign offers great tag-lines (“Heroes Don’t Get Any Bigger”, “No Shield. No Armor. No Problem.”)and uses the leverage of Marvel power to promote a movie that had gotten quite a bit of negative press.Their designs made huge strides in rebranding the film.The advance is fun and cheeky, but the series that thumbs its nose at the big boys who have brought in so much money for Marvel while reminding us the character is part of the Marvel team was genius, and positioned the film as funnier than its predecessors.Fans got what they expected at the multiplex.
Andrea Alvin: I love the copy line. Its strong and funny. This is a great image. It tells us that this little guy will stand up to the big and powerful and hold his own. Its a strong graphic and an image we can remember and it brands the film.
Bill McCloskey: This has one of the best composition elements going for it…Contrast in size. This also benefits from being able to utilize two other fantastic franchises, Captain America and Iron Man, but they were used so tastefully and with minimal exploitation, they serve the image rather than dominate it.
8: AMERICAN ULTRA
Is it the 70s? Does it matter?The campaign for American Ultra had to draw the stoner contingent as well as those who love Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart’s other work.This poster says, “Pot!, Guns!, America!”.The film had to do the rest.
Bill McCloskey: Teaser posters tend to be able to exploit the size and position of certain elements. I love the title treatment as that was the element I mostly designed during my career. There will be a problem utilizing this in the final campaign because it will require putting on the most disgusting element of the movie poster…the billing block, as that size is always determined by the physical size of the logo’s lettering.
7: JURASSIC WORLD
With the original logo still intact, this poster for Jurassic World reminds its audience dinosaurs, and the humans they want to eat, are front and center in the story.Juxtaposed images of a white computer room and controlling businesswoman and a dino surrounded by foliage, pit technology against nature.Those who are fans of the franchise know nature always wins.This image suggests Jurassic World may show that to audiences in a new and exciting way.
Andrea Alvin: This is a strong composition. Dividing the poster into two equal images makes the viewer very conscious of the two competing worlds in the film. I feel like the dino side is still a bit pristine, and could benefit from a more visceral and menacing shot of the beast. For me, it lacks the tension that I believe the designers were trying to allude to.
Bill McCloskey: I agree Andrea, the success here is in the composition of the opposing elements, I would also like to see a bit more “grit” to the dinosaur’s environment.
6: THE MARTIAN
Whether with traditional illustration or photo images, sometimes using the star power of the film lead is the best way to insure box office success.No one wants to see Matt Damon trapped forever on Mars.This simple, dramatic image, coupled with a clever collection of astronaut videos meant to go viral, meant far more fans attended the first weekend of release, thereby leveraging word of mouth for this great film’s ultimate success.
Andrea Alvin: This poster has the feeling of a high quality “Missing person” poster. I like its call to action. It’s a good way to present a poster using the star power of Matt Damon. I might have tried a subtle reflection of the Martian landscape to show his desolation.
Bill McCloskey: I love this poster and this one breaks the mold a bit with its big, superimposed, simple copyline. Usually we try and create a nice clear space in the composition for the placement of the copyline, here it runs right over our star’s face, but the line breaks perfectly between his gaze and his mouth. Having worked with Ridley Scott before he also likes to bury the credits, see if you can find his above title credit.
5: SHAUN THE SHEEP
Promotion for the Shaun the Sheep movie had to get both longtime fans of the show and potential viewers onboard for their release to make some bleating money.These riffs on other blockbusters were a clever way to reinforce love from the fans and pique the curiosity of animation aficionados they wished to add to their flock.From Spectre, and Mission: Impossible to the Fantastic Four and Ant-Man, this campaign shamelessly leveraged other designs, and to great effect!
Andrea Alvin: I love both of these posters. They have treated the animated characters with all the seriousness of an action movie and that makes it funny. This is a campaign aimed at savvy adults. I want to see it.
Bill McCloskey: I agree with both Andrea and Leslie, to bring animation into the mainstream you have to engage the adult audience and both of these posters do it cleverly.
With all the fuss about women in film and the dearth thereof, here is a film with women directors helming four unique stories.The poster, like the subject of this anthology, is killer! If a graphic poster is used, it’s essential it reads from far away and causes curiosity in the viewer.The best posters advance knowledge of films that might otherwise stay unknown. This dramatic image does the trick and deserves a big smooch!
Andrea Alvin: This is a really effective poster. It looks like the european campaigns done in the 70’s or 80’s – very artistic. At first viewing, I know its about women and that its scary. It works.
Bill McCloskey: It’s always tough to make a graphic image have a double read and this one is very clever on how it accomplishes meshing both of the images. You also can’t get more striking than red on black.
3: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
No one in the public saw this movie as the colossus it became, until the posters started hinting at spectacle beyond our imagining.That’s what a great movie campaign does.One of the best aspect of this collection of images is they are created by a diversity of agencies, but still maintain a consistent look. The tagline “What a Lovely Day” will live on, as will the memory of this particularly poster, which captures the “High Noon” vibe of one man facing an impossible undertaking. Gratefully, he has Imperator Furiosa to help!
Andrea Alvin: This is a very successful poster. It is difficult to create a poster for a movie that is so full of details and images, without it becoming “ beef stew.” That is a term we used to use when the art was full of details and had no focal point. It is something we see a lot of today in poster design. This poster solves this particular problem beautifully. The formal composition, with nearly everything stacked in a line down the middle of the page emphasises the concept of one man against the world. The “world,” represented as a beheamoth mass of men and machines emerging from a noxious mix of fire and smoke, is portrayed as one huge form with the many details contained within it. Our hero, sihlouetted with his back to us shows his potential strength of character. The story and conflict are all here in this image… and it looks good too.
Bill McCloskey: Leslie has hit the nail on the head. The word of mouth that started coming out about this movie established how truly amazing the imagery in this film was going to be. Also evoking our main character’s stand against the masses is always a “go to” theme. As Andrea also mentioned it’s hard to create an “atmospheric” look with out creating a mish mash up of elements. The forced depth of field is what really helps pull that off.
2: AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON
How do you keep the head of visual development and his team happy at Marvel? Or any artist, for that matter? You let them sign their work (note the signature).The special release poster was a wonderful way to excite Avengers fans at SDCC 2014, and in fact was 8 images pieced together, all of which were their own advance posters. All of which were signed by the artists. The creators involved were the head of visual development for Marvel, Ryan Meinerding, and 2 of his concept art cohorts, Andy Park and Charlie Wen. The Eclipse agency added to the momentum by creating both an illustration mimic, and design that reads from far away and close up, like a Where’s Shield version of Where’s Waldo. Marvel has always respected diverse designs and ideas for promotion, and it shows in their ever-increasing fandom.
Bill McCloskey: Well you can’t forget the fan boys and girls. So limited edition posters are perfect. Comic-Con is known for its giveaways and I’m sure this was a hit. I would have tried to collect them all.
1: HUNGER GAMES
The secret of success for the Hunger Games Mockingjay part 2 campaign is in part the art photography of Tim Pale.He is both the chief brand officer and international marketing president at Lionsgate and a talented photographer. Pale has taking photographs of all the major players in the Hunger Games franchise from the beginning, and pursuaded Lionsgate to use the images in the campaigns’ propaganda-based designs.The result is a collection of gorgeous, compelling images that went viral and reaffirmed the value of artistic presentation in movie posters. The campaign for the last Hunger Games film got even halfhearted fans back into the theaters. It may also influence the look of future movie art.A campaign can be successful, inventive, artistic, and visually diverse.
Andrea Alvin: The single figure against the clouds is a very successful poster in my opinion. The propoganda posters were a natural fit for this movie because of the political nature of the subject. The heroic photos are gorgeous and the top poster has the feel of a Maxfield Parrish painting as well.
Bill McCloskey: Over the years, studios have begun to rely on pre-marketing images. In my olden days, the 80s, we sometimes had to beg, borrow and steal for decent photography for John Alvin to illustrate from, but these days it appears special photographic shoots before principal photography is done allows for design firms to create teaser posters that can start to define the product to the public. Sometimes these images won’t tie into the main campaign at the end, but they will still succeed at keeping the word of mouth going.
Andrea: The art of the movie poster is not dead, its just different. There are fewer examples of thoughtful, concept driven and good looking posters, but I don’t think that is the fault of the artists and designers, rather a short sighted view on the part of the studios. The purpose of the poster to brand a movie is the same as it has always been, although it is not being utilized. One great poster can be the movie’s calling card in the theatre or when choosing a movie to watch on a streaming service. Most are lost in a muddle of images that are unforgettable. Thank you Leslie, Cinema Siren, for pointing out some very nice examples of what is being done today in movie marketing.
Bill: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to comment on some of the current standouts in one sheet design. Would I love to see more graphic images and illustrations come back into the marketplace? Who said they’re gone? The hyper real photocomposition on “Star Wars – The Force Awakens” blends the two so well, it’s hard not to look at that campaign as the type of illustrations we used to see from the greats: Alvin, Amsel and Peak!
Thanks to both Andrea and Bill for offering their thoughts, and congratulations to all the agencies and artists who created the chosen images and campaigns. Here’s hoping there will be some traditionally illustrated posters on the list in 2016, and that the best images continue to inspire and excite those of us who love movies to keep finding our new favorite films!