Category: Studio Art

Collecting Vintage Photostat Disney Model Sheets: Fake vs Real

In the 30+ years I’ve been selling vintage Disney art, I’ve largely avoided photostat model sheets. I mean, they are copies. They are copies created 50 years or more ago and used by character animators as a roadmap for the artists working under them of how to draw some of the most iconic characters in history, but copies nonetheless. Whenever I’ve been able to score an original graphite model sheet, it’s my absolute favorite thing to sell. They are incredibly rare, and knowing a model sheet with great provenance is in the collection of one of my clients thrills me. So there’s a huge difference about how I have felt about the original vs photostat models.

That being said, over the years, original graphites and concept art have become very expensive, and people have started collecting photostats more and more. Obviously, though, it’s very easy to fake them. I’ve seen countless images on Ebay for sale, often framed, for very little money, but that are also clearly not authentic.

Lately, I’ve become more interested in offering original photostat model sheets. They may be more expensive than they used to be, but they still have great history, and the images are so exciting. Who used them back then? Where did they keep it? (for example, often you see they have pinholes where they were put on the wall for the animators to follow)

I know with absolute certainty that the model sheets I have access to are authentic. This person has only ever bought from animators, and they are super tied into that crowd and have been for decades. Also, the collector who has them has had them for so long that they supersede the advent of giclees on paper, and copiers that could do the sort of fake they make and pass off as authentic nowadays. Granted, they are generally a lot more money than the fakes proliferating the auctions and sites now. It all comes down to how much it matters to you that the piece you’re buying was there then, a part of the history of creating the cartoon for which they were utilized.

With that in mind, there are a few rules you might want to follow when buying photostat model sheets:

  1. Know your seller. I can’t stress this enough. This assumes you’re actually after an original, not a copy of a copy. If all you care about is the image, not the history, it doesn’t matter. If you’re wanting to get a photostat model sheet that was used by animators working on that character, you have to get it from someone who traces everything they ever sell all the way back to Disney. I say this in part because there are many people with integrity who buy pieces that have changed hands many times, and they just base their buys on what the seller is telling them. It’s a bit like “Telephone”. If the seller you bought it from got it from someone who was duped, that’s several layers away from the criminal who has faked model sheets. Stick with highly rated, well-versed dealers if you want a model sheet used by Disney animators.
  2. If you buy from Ebay, or any other auction, limit your spending to under $300. To my mind, this is actually true for any sale on there. If you get a fake for under $300, at least you have an image. For over $300, and it had better be real. You’ll never know if aren’t buying it from someone with a pristine reputation who has been in the animation world a long time.
  3. As always, only buy characters you love. Original model sheets represent a part of that character being brought to the screen. There are literally many millions of fans all over the world who love them. Don’t add something about which you feel mediocre to your collection.
  4. Don’t buy them framed. If you are buying them from someone who will be framing them, look at them unframed first. There are many obvious signs of a fake model sheet, not least of which is the paper it’s printed on.
  5. How much should you spend? I’ve seen vintage photostats from $150 to $650. Beyond that price, you might just save your money and be on the lookout for an original. It will be much more, but as I’m always teaching my clients, it is better to have fewer pieces of higher quality.

We almost always have at least one original graphite model sheet in the gallery. If you’re wanting to get some photostats, we have some available right now, and we can also try to track down ones that show your favorite characters. Here are a few photostats we have at present, but contact us for availability or to have us find specific characters.

Above are two photostat model sheets of Snow White.

These Bambi and Thumper photostat model sheets really capture how they are drawn and their expressions for the animators using them.

Here are two from Dumbo, showing Dumbo and Timothy, two best friends, from all angles.

Two classic secondary characters that are fan favorites from Cinderella, Lucifer and Jaq.

Here are two of the most fragile, beautifully rendered characters in Pinocchio, The Blue Fairy and Cleo, both of whom required translucent paint.

Who can forget the characters that populated The Song of the South? I’m sure plenty of folks at Disney would love you to, but Briar Fox and Briar Bear stick with you like a briar from the patch.

If you’re interested in adding some photostat model sheets (or for that matter, some original graphite ones) to your collection, let us know and we’ll set about finding exactly what you’re after or add it to your wish list!

Good luck and happy collecting!

Vintage Disney Art from the Vault at ArtInsights

So much awesome Disney history right here!

Premiering live on March 2nd at Mindy Johnson’s Ink and Paint: The Women at Walt Disney’s Animation is a collection of vintage Disney concept and character drawings that will fascinate and excite fans and collectors of Disney art! ArtInsights already has them on-hand, but will be unveiling them at the event, which is from 2-5pm. Come see them in person!

A screen shot very close to the graphite from Canine Caddy, a classic 1941 Mickey Mouse cartoon, in which Mickey is voiced by Walt Disney. Note the touches of color on the drawing, as well as the difference in Mickey’s design between this and 1932’s Mickey’s Good Deed.

We will be showing and selling drawings from Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, Dumbo, and some fantastic shorts like Canine Caddy, The Picnic, Mickey’s Elephant, and more!

The above drawing from 1932’s Mickey’s Good Deed (also called Mickey’s Lucky Break) has two pegholes, as was the case in the earliest Mickey cartoons. This is an early example of a cartoon where Mickey’s voice was supplied by Walt Disney, and is one of the most charming Christmas-themed Disney shorts.

This concept art piece of a pegasus baby from Fantasia has an official Walt Disney Productions stamp in the corner, usually used as part of the Courvoisier Galleries releases!

He just gave Yensid back his hat and broom.
He’s had fun being a very bad apprentice!

This wonderful original production drawing of Mickey from Fantasia has a perfect expression of the trouble-making apprentice, and some great notes and extras on it!

A screen cap of the finished sequence a few moments away from the drawing.

See the Sorcerer’s Apprentice section of Fantasia here:

https://video.disney.com/watch/sorcerer-s-apprentice-fantasia-4ea9ebc01a74ea59a5867853

When Mindy does her presentation, she’ll take you through the exciting and historic elements of some of these drawings, like the color key notes on the Geppetto from Pinocchio, the influence of women on the work created for Fantasia, and how the history of women in animation plays an important role in your favorite classic Mickey cartoons from the early 1930s!

This original drawing of the Queen from Snow White is not only exquisite, it also shows the complexity of creating images for animation. Disney envisioned the character as a mix of Lady Macbeth and the Big Bad Wolf. She is the first character to ever speak in a Disney feature film, and the first character to die in one, as well. In this drawing, you can see her reflection in the mirror, a close-up of her face, as well as the drama of her costume. The screen cap next to the drawing shows what was finally put onscreen as part of the film. The notes about the production and scene, as well as the notes near her face are just the sort of special additions fans and aficionados are looking for their collections!

In all the time I’ve been selling and writing about animation, I’ve only seen a handful of graphites from Night on Bald Mountain that I could trace back to the studio. A friend of mine has one of the only cels of Chernabog in existence, and wow is it a beaut! The character was animated by Bill Tytla, who had meant to be inspired by the poses of Bela Lugosi, who had been brought in for visual reference. Instead, he used Night on Bald Mountain director Wilfred Jackson’s shirtless poses to create the images he needed.

Both images from Dumbo have added notes and color as part of their drawings. The film won an Oscar for Best Original Score. For folks who love both Dumbo and Lilo and Stitch, they do have something in common. Both used watercolor backgrounds extensively as part of their artistic aesthetic.

We hope any who are interested in great original art from Walt Disney that carries significant historical significance will contact us about acquiring these lovelies. Remember that these images are subject to availability, so check with us! Meanwhile, we hope to see you this Saturday between 2-5pm!

Mindy Johnson: 5 Things You’ll find Surprising from INK & PAINT: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation

When Mindy Johnson started out writing her book Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, her plan was to make a compact little tome that celebrated what many thought must have been a very small percentage of those in the Disney’s workforce responsible for the experimentation and advancements for which the animation studio is known.  After, as Alice might do, “going down the rabbit hole” of research and discovery, Johnson wound up writing a book with quite a bit of heft, at 384 pages and sized at 10 x 2 x 13 inches. 

We were curious, since Mindy is coming for a lecture and book signing, to get a few thoughts from her on what she discovered early in the course of her research. Of course she’ll be talking about it all in greater length when she’s here in the gallery, but we figured our friends all across the globe might enjoy knowing what got her so curious about the subject.

5 THINGS THAT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU ABOUT THE HISTORY OF DISNEY ANIMATION:

  • 1. SO MANY WOMEN!

“Most books out there would lead you to think there were only a handful of women animators or artists who contributed to Disney’s animation, but it turns out there were thousands of women whose remarkable artistry inspired, defined and contributed to Disney’s classic animated titles.”

  • 2. MEN INKED! MEN PAINTED!

“We’ve been lead to believe that it was only women who did the inking & painting on these films, but men were involved at various points throughout the history of Disney Animation.”

  • 3. SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST LINES

“People thought Inkers were simply tracing the pencil drawings of the animators, but truthfully, Inkers are translating the line with tapered starts & stops, and specifically defined line widths for each character and scene — very calligraphic!”

  • 4. THEN, NOW AND FOREVER

“Women were at the forefront of the various technologies that advanced animation – xerography and Digital technology.”

  • 5. IMAGINE THOSE PICTURES OF ROSE FROM TITANIC, ONLY IN ANIMATION…

“Many remarkable women worked within Disney Animation whose accomplishments went far beyond animation – including several record-breaking pilots and ‘firsts’ within aviation, a world renowned opera star, and the founder of an international club for tall people!”

Come meet Mindy Johnson in person, get a hand-signed book, hear her speak about the history of women at Disney, and see a rare exhibit of vintage Disney art on March 2nd, from 2-5pm at ArtInsights!

Exciting Changes at ArtInsights and in Reston Town Center

So many changes in Reston Town Center, and this time they are for the better! For one thing, we are excited to hear the award-winning restaurant chain True Food is coming to the center, as is Peet’s Coffee! It will be a while, but we’re excited there’s new blood coming, and it’s fresh, hot, and trendy.

The lobby of our building is getting a complete makeover, and it will be all done at the beginning of April. Of course, our gallery is going to be in a bit of upheaval until then, but ultimately it will be so good! We are looking forward to having much larger, cleaner, more modern windows facing the lobby. You can see the new look below:

The images supplied by Boston Properties on the lobby update.

While they are doing the work, we’ll be starting to make changes inside and outside the gallery, some of which we’ll want to be a surprise for our clients, but one thing we want to let everyone know is we’ll have lots of new frames- (Come see them! They are SUPER DUPER COOL, and in all styles and sizes!)

Meet our new door out to the great wide world, finally here after 26 years!

They’ll now be across from the new door out to the street, with the table and samples more easily seen from the outside storefront. Our new door out to the street will be the new way into the gallery, but we’ll also have the lobby entrance back at the end of the renovation. Lots of pretty changes will also be happening, but you’ll see them as they develop. Bear with us, stop by and see them in progress, and come celebrate with us when they are all done!

We’ll be having some events in the meantime, and we have a few special collections we’re looking forward to announcing soon.

Some of the exciting announcements for new stores and restaurants in Reston Town Center include:

True Food KitchenMuse PaintbarJinya RamenNorth Italia RestaurantPeet’s CoffeeThe Glossary Nail SalonDC Row – and *rumor*: Apple Store Expansion

Meanwhile, we just want to say how grateful we are to you all, as many of you have been taking this retail journey with us lo these many years. We couldn’t do it without you!

Happy February, we hope to see you, and we wish you all good things throughout the month and into Spring!

BEST WISHES,

Leslie, Michael, and the whole ArtInsights gang.

ps. Yes, Leslie had foot surgery, and so far all is well. If you visit soon, you’ll see her with her big boot and her silly scooter, which looks way more fun when you’re not the one having to use it…

One Legend Paints Another: Carol Channing, John Alvin, and the play Lorelei

We were saddened by the passing today of a Broadway, film legend, and certified character Carol Channing, who died at 97.

Known for her raspy singing voice, her huge smile, she is most remembered for her role as Dolly Levi in the musical Hello Dolly, but she was nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar when she brought her sass to the 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie, which starred Mary Tyler Moore. She won a Lifetime Tony Award and was inducted to the American Theater Hall of Fame.

For a new show called Lorelei, in 1973, Channing reprised the role of Lorelei Lee, which she originated in the 1949 play Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  The now famous classic film where Marylin Monroe sings Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend was based on the play, and Channing sang it first. Subtitled Gentlemen Still Prefer Blondes, it picked up with Lorelei, now a wealthy widow, setting sail on the SS Ile de France. It proved a popular show, often selling out, but it was more about Channing’s charm and star quality than it was about strong songs or plot, but at 51, she made it work.

John Alvin was hired to create the original play poster for a special charity engagement of Lorelei that happened as they were working out the kinks in the play early on, and he was told she absolutely loved the image he created celebrating her. He was a big fan of her work. He loved strong, engaging women on and off the screen, as anyone who has ever met his wife Andrea would attest.

We spoke to Andrea about the art, and she wrote, “John had graduated from Art Center College of Design a year earlier, and was just starting a freelance illustration career. He met a designer named Anthony Goldschmidt at a trade show, and Anthony had a job that he thought perfect for John. It was a poster for a  production of Lorelei starring Carol Channing. John had done one other play poster with Anthony for Dori Previn’s “Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign.”

The technique that John used was based on a series of paintings he did his last semester of Art Center. It was highly influenced by the Art Nouveaux poster artist Alphonse Mucha. He did a very refined drawing and then had a sepia toned print made of it.  For this particular image, he used some of the handmade crow quill paper for the background. He then used transparent dyes to paint the image with his airbrush. It is a very subtle but pretty technique. He also designed and hand lettered the title art. “

As an early example of the art of John Alvin, who was already creating beautiful work in his mid-twenties, and as a lasting monument to the talent of Broadway legend Carol Channing, Lorelei certainly fits the (play)bill.

This art is available for purchase HERE.

Here are the pieces from Art Center John created that inspired Lorelei:

Mary Poppins Returns Is Inspired by Oscar-winning Matte Painter Peter Ellenshaw

From the first moments of Mary Poppins Returns, there is reference to the genius artistry that was a part of creating the original. The opening titles, which are fanciful paintings which one assumes are concept work used to build the magical nanny’s London, are a mix of art by Oscar-winning concept artist Peter Ellenshaw created in the 60s, and images influenced him created by one of the concept artists who worked on the new release. They speak to the rich colors and evoke an atmosphere redolent with fog, mist, and chimney smoke, that places us squarely in a London of distant memory.

Many fans of the original 1964 Disney live action classic, Mary Poppins, are well aware that film won five Oscars, including a Best Actress win for Julie Andrews, who had been passed over for My Fair Lady, but won the year both films were released against Audrey Hepburn, who had played Eliza Doolittle. The song Chim Chim Cher-ee and the impressive score meant two Oscars for the Sherman brothers, who both literally and figuratively became legends in their own time. Editor Cotton Warburton, who put together many of the wackiest, most beloved family-friendly live action films, including The Happiest Millionaire, The Absent Minded Professor, and The Love Bug, garnered his only Academy Award for Mary Poppins. Artists Eustace Lycett (who worked on some of the best rides at Disneyland), Hamilton Luske (who co-directed Cinderella, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp, and a host of other Disney animated features) and matte background painter Peter Ellenshaw, shared an Oscar for Special Effect and Special Visual Effects. Ellenshaw, Andrews, Luske, and the Sherman brothers all became ‘Disney Legends’, an honor bestowed on people who make extraordinary and integral contributions to the Walt Disney Company.

Peter Ellenshaw was already known for his artistry, having been in the film industry since the late 30s. His first project was assisting on 1936’s sci-fi wonder Things To Come. He apprenticed with one of the most successful, renowned matte artists, W. Percy Day. Standouts of films on which he assisted Day are 1940’s The Thief of Bagdad, and 1948’s The Red Shoes. His first film for Disney was Treasure Island, continuing with beloved classics like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Old Yeller, and Swiss Family Robinson.

Though he lived in the US from 1953, he grew up in England, making him perfect to capture the atmosphere and visual majesty of early 20th century London.  For Mary Poppins, Ellenshaw was responsible for the gorgeous matte backgrounds that made up the skylines and rooftops of London.

Practically Perfect by Peter Ellenshaw, a limited edition based on his work as matte background artist on the 1964 classic, Mary Poppins.

There is, in his work, the perfect expression of the magic of film and the importance of collaboration in creating a movie with lasting power and beauty. One cannot imagine Mary Poppins without remembering his wonderful scenes of London through which Mary flies, or the rooftops where the chimney sweeps dance.  So evocative are these images that when Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall began the task of world building for his new movie, he and his cinematographer Dion Beebe and production designer John Myhre found inspiration from his paintings, even to the point of using his actual concept paintings to bring the audience into the world of London, giving Peter Ellenshaw thanks, and a screen credit. They wanted to get away a bit from the storybook, fantastical look of the first film, but there’s no question that the panoramic views of London used to set mood are heavily influenced by his work.

Sweeps Dance on the Rooftops by Peter Ellenshaw, created from his work on Mary Poppins, celebrates the beauty of the London of yesteryear.

I never met Peter Ellenshaw, but I visited his studio with his son, Harrison Ellenshaw, and saw huge matte paintings from Mary Poppins and 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. They were spectacular. Harrison Ellenshaw followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a well-regarded concept artist in the film industry, being nominated for an Oscar for his work on The Black Hole. He also worked on Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Tron.  and  was also Though there are still artists like William Silvers, who is still working in concept art art and creates backgrounds both digitally, and (though rarely) by hand, matte background paintings done by hand are a thing of the past.

Smoke Staircase, a limited edition by Peter Ellenshaw, created from his work as matte background painter for the 1964 classic, Mary Poppins.

The pieces above are available as limited edition giclees on canvas, signed by Peter, who passed away in 2007. It is one case of Disney appreciating an important figure in the history of film and trying to raise awareness of his work, and we at ArtInsights celebrate that and him!

We loved Mary Poppins Returns, and believe many fans of the original will see that Rob Marshall created the film in the spirit of love for not only the books of P.T. Travers, but also the 1964 classic. Now when you see it, you’ll be all the more aware of the Peter Ellenshaw art, and his influence of the look of the new film!

The three images above, by Peter Ellenshaw, are called Practically Perfect, Chimney Sweeps Dance on the Rooftops, and Smoke Staircase, and are available for purchase through ArtInsights. For all art celebrating Mary Poppins available at ArtInsights, GO HERE.

For my interview with Sandy Powell, the costume designer for Mary Poppins Returns (who is already a three-time Oscar winner) read about it on The Credits: GO HERE.

For my review of the film for Cinema Siren, GO HERE.

Movie Lovers Gift Guide 2018 from ArtInsights Gallery of Film and Contemporary Art

Movie Lovers Gift Guide from Film Art Gallery ArtInsights Offers Film Fans

Art Celebrating Cinematic Anniversaries and Releases

All By Official Studio Artists

Reston, VA -You’ve seen “alternative posters” and “minimalist posters”, but what about art by the folks who actually helped you fall in love with the movies in the first place? Somebody has to champion them, and that would be you and us! That’s right! A movie lovers gift guide that is all art by the folks who make movies and promote them! 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, making  holiday 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.

No movie lovers gift guide would be complete without less expensive art! There is a page on their site with a selection of dozens of pieces below $250. (https://artinsights.com/production/santas-little-helpers-presents-for-christmas-hanukkah-yule-kwanzaa-under-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.

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.

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 strictly 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 with  Fantastic 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, as well as images representing 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 the Disney princesses figure prominently, (including the use of the voices from the original feature films!)  You can find all these options on the gallery’s new blog.  See the bottom of the press release for links or contact the gallery for more information. Images of available art sent immediately upon request.

ABOUT ARTINSIGHTS

Since 1994, representing a wide range of film and animation art at the gallery in Reston Town Center, ArtInsights focuses on proprietary projects and artist representation relating to the history of animation and film, and the celebration and examination of popular culture, all by artists working in the film industry. With artists like iconic movie poster artist John Alvin, studio concept artists William Silvers and Jim Salvati, and Marvel and DC cover artists Alex Ross, the gallery builds collections of original and limited edition art for their growing worldwide collector base. See the work and read the blog on  HYPERLINK “http://www.artinsights.com” www.artinsights.com. For more information about ArtInsights’ 2018 gift guide, go to https://artinsights.com/the-artinsights-2018-gift-guide-celebrates-film-anniversaries-and-new-releases/ 

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“Fab Four” by Alex Ross https://artinsights.com/product/fab-four-yellow-submarine-limited-edition-mini-canvas-by-alex-ross/

“Mickey’s Creative Journey” by Tim Rogerson https://artinsights.com/product/mickeys-creative-journey-treasures-on-canvas-by-tim-rogerson/

“Willie at the Helm” by Tim Rogerson https://artinsights.com/product/willie-at-the-helm-mickey-mouse-steamboat-willie-giclee-on-paper-by-tim-rogerson/

“A Mary Tune” by Tim Rogerson https://artinsights.com/product/a-mary-tune-mary-poppins-embellished-giclee-on-canvas-by-tim-rogerson/

“Practically Perfect” by Peter Ellenshaw https://artinsights.com/product/practically-perfect-limited-edition-giclee-on-canvas-by-peter-ellenshaw/

“Guardians of Justice” from Justice League Unlimited by Bruce Timm https://artinsights.com/product/guardians-of-justice-dc-comics-lithograph-on-art-paper/

“JLA” by Alex Ross: https://artinsights.com/product/liberty-justice-jla-mini-canvas/

“The Cold of Hoth” by John Alvin: https://artinsights.com/product/star-wars-the-cold-of-hoth-giclee-on-paper-by-john-alvin/

“Journey on the Hogwarts Express” by Stuart Craig: https://artinsights.com/product/journey-on-the-hogwarts-express-harry-potter-giclee-on-paper-by-stuart-craig/

For Mickey’s 90th Birthday, ArtInsights Celebrates Mickey Mouse Through the Years with Art

It’s the anniversary of the first appearance of Mickey Mouse, which happened in November of 1928.  I have always been a fan of Mickey Mouse as a rat, in particular.  Ub Iwerks made the awesome black and white Steamboat Willie.  He had designed the character after having designed Oswald, a character for which Disney lost control.

Steampunk Willie by William Silvers celebrates Mickey Mouse’s 90th anniversary perfectly!

Steamboat Willie wasn’t the first Mickey short created (that was Plane Crazy) but was the first widely released. It was the first Disney cartoon with synchronized sound, which is interesting, since Disney’s inspiration for the short was reportedly The Jazz Singer. Steamboat Willie premiered at Universal’s Colony Theater in New York on November 18th, and was an immediate hit. By 1932, there was a fan club, the Mickey Mouse Club had a million members. By 1934, Mickey merchandise brought in $600,000 a year.  The financial success of the character really is responsible for building the huge media empire we all know today.  It’s true that, as Walt said, “It all started with a mouse.”

Ub Iwerks, who is recognized as one of the most influential men in cartoon history, went on to animate my favorite Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Skeleton Dance.

In 1938, Freddie Moore, the famous animator known for , redesigned Mickey’s body away from looking as much like what Ward Kimball called Mickey’s “rubber hose, round circle” design, or what made when they used squash and stretch on him look so noodle-like.  Mickey’s eyes have changed a lot through the years, but Freddie Moore gave him the smaller white eyes with pupils.

You can see the changes in Mickey Mouse from Steamboat to Fantasia to Fun and Fancy Free to Today in Tim Rogerson’s piece Mickey’s Creative Journey.

That change had a significant effect, I think, on how connected fans became with the character. You can see that change in design by watching 1938’s Brave Little Tailor, and then 1939’s The Pointer, where the changes had taken place, then to, of course, 40’s Fantasia. You can see he also changed the color of his skin from pure white to a pale flesh tone. The expressiveness of his eyes, with the added pupils and eyelids, has a huge impact on his likability, and the huge following for the Sorcerer’s Apprentice short. It is nearly synonymous with Fantasia.  As Moore died in 1952, at the age of 41, his influence over the iconic character is an important part of his legacy.

Brave Little Tailer

The Pointer

Fantasia

The Mickey Mouse Club tv show, which started in 1955, brought Mickey back into popularity by bringing him into households every week.  However, there were no theatrical shorts featuring Mickey between 1953, with The Simple Things, and 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  The 1983 featurette was the first time a Mickey cartoon had been nominated for an Oscar since 1948’s Mickey and the Seal.

Even to this day, a large percentage of the sales through consumer products worldwide is derived from Mickey Mouse merchandise.

From our perspective at the gallery, there are a lot of American kids that aren’t fans of Mickey for a whole swath of their teenaged years, unlike Winnie the Pooh.  Winnie remains cool, while Mickey goes out of favor until the kids become old enough to have their own children or feel nostalgic about their own childhood.  Disney appears to be working to fill that gap by branding the character online and network television in new specials related to the anniversary. On November 4th, there’ll be a program called Mickey’s 90th Spectacular, featuring teen faves like Meghan Trainor and K-Pop powerhouse NCT 127.

Original production cel of Mickey Mouse from The Mickey Mouse Club, available at ArtInsights

We are lucky to have so much official art of Mickey for fans, created by the artists who actually work in the film industry, as well as production art from the Mickey Mouse Club we just got in.  He can be such a charmer! Mickey Mouse continues to be a character lots of collectors clamber for, especially any art depicting Sorcerer’s Apprentice, or with his lady love Minnie Mouse!

William Silvers, a concept artist who worked on Disney films like Tangled and Lilo and Stitch, and is an official artist for the studio, created this sweet original of the two lovebirds Mickey and Minnie.

If you want to see all the options for Mickey Mouse art to celebrate his long and storied career, CLICK HERE. 

And many happy returns, Mickey.  Must be nice to be wrinkle and carefree after all these years!

The Peanuts Art of Dean Spille: animation history made watercolor

We are always looking for extremely rare art to offer our clients, but hand-in-hand with that, we are always trying to find ways to promote and expand awareness about the importance of artists.  There are so many important figures in the history of animation that fans and enthusiasts know little about, and we want to change that! That’s where Dean Spille comes in…

He is just such a luminary. Dean Spille, concept and background artist for Bill Melendez Productions, is the official background artist for all the Charlie Brown and Peanuts films. Indeed, he is responsible for the color stories, the graphic design, and the finished look of Peanuts TV specials all the way from the beginning.  He worked on A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in 1968, and continued to influence these classics all the way to the TV short He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown in 2006.  AND WE JUST GOT ART CREATED BY THIS AMAZING ARTIST!!

At first, Bill Melendez, in his desire to give credit to the many contributors on A Charlie Brown Christmas, Dean was listed as doing “graphic blandishment”, which is code for concept artist, background artist, or any other element not yet isolated as deserving of its own credit.  He was named as production designer for over 20 shows, shorts, or tv specials between 1977 through 2000, and as often credited as color stylist as well.

A scene from from Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown, which is the inspiration for one of the 3 originals we are offering:

Given that the art Dean created is from his nostalgia and memory, it’s amazing how close this is to what was used in Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown.  He certainly has the French village vibe down, not least because he’s lived in France for over 40 years!  See his art below:

Inside the animation industry, Dean Spille is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated, talented concept and background artists in history.  It’s impossible to extricate the evocative, inventive backgrounds when considering the look of the beloved Charlie Brown TV specials, and they are all thanks to Dean.

Though native to California, he’s been living in France for over 40 years, and is now 92.  Imagine my thrill and excitement when we were offered an extremely limited collection of original Peanuts watercolor paintings by this treasured artist of the animation world.  We aren’t even sure if we’ll get any more than these three, all of which were created by Dean from his recollections of his contributions over his career with Bill Melendez Productions on the Peanuts cartoons.

Who doesn’t remember the scene with the kids out trick-or-treating from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?

The art Dean Spille created is below.  Classic!

If you’re a fan of animation art, Peanuts, or the Charlie Brown specials, these are exceptional, rare originals that represent an essential element of the beloved cartoons.  We may have them in-house briefly after selling them, and we’ll post about that on our Facebook page, but in the meantime, as we only have three to sell, contact us soon if interested in any or all of them!  We won’t be putting them online for purchase, but rather will sell them to those who contact us, since there only 3 and are one-of-a-kind.

What a wonderful palette Dean created for this scene! The original he created is below, and it may be my favorite.  Dig his subjective use of color, and how well it works, or how well we recognize it from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!

We really want to find Snoopy lovers, those who watched the animated specials as kids (or with their kids!), and art aficionados who get excited by the opportunity to have an original by an artist who is so important to animation history!

MORE ABOUT DEAN SPILLE:

In the fifties, Mr. Spille began working with Bill Melendez at Playhouse Pictures, a studio created by innovative artists who made up UPA. Peanuts’ television endorsement of the Ford Falcon, created at Playhouse Pictures, was the beginning of a partnership and friendship that lasted a lifetime for Melendez and Spille. After leaving for Spain in 1963, Dean returned to find that Melendez had created his own studio. Spille worked on the first three specials while teaching design at California State College, Long Beach. Later a sabbatical from teaching took Spille to live and work in a small town in the hills of Provence. Working on “Babar the Elephant” and later “Dick Deadeye”, he also continued working on the Peanuts films, while splitting his time between Los Angeles and France.  A definitive move to France was made as an additional project was in the works, the Emmy winning “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Dean Spille was, without question, an integral contributing artist to the success of Bill Melendez Productions, Inc.

Dean’s academic studies began at UCLA where he earned his BA in Cinema, furthering his studies at California State University earning his Master Degree in Fine Art. Dean continued his studies at the Accademia Delle Belle Arte in Florence, Italy and at Kokoshkaschule in Salzburg, Austria. Dean is also a former professor of Art at the California State University, where he taught Graphic Design and Animation. Today, he devotes his time to painting, and sells his traditional imagery throughout Europe, where he is known and celebrated for both his animation and fine art works.

Spille’s work is liberally shown through out the book, “The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation, Celebrating Fifty Years of Television Specials” .  Page 30-31 speaks of his process.

Limited Editions from Peanuts TV Specials Make Us Want To Do a Snoopy Happy Dance!

We just discovered we have a few super rare and hard-to-find Peanuts limited editions created for the anniversaries of the Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown TV specials. Given how much we at ArtInsights love all things Snoopy and Charlie Brown, it’s like we got an early Valentine’s Day gift!

What a coincidence.  Fans of the beloved Peanuts animated cartoons just celebrated the anniversary of the first airing of the 1975 Peanuts TV special Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown.  Although there are over 40 animated TV specials created over the years through Bill Melendez’s studio, many fans actually remember a few of them really well.  For me it was Snoopy Come Home, for which I had the board game, the Valentine special, and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. As an adult, I can to love this weird one that it turns out is the favorite of many of the animators who worked on multiple films for Melendez, What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown!. However, we can all agree that A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown are the most classic, right?

MELENDEZ AND MENDELSON MAKE TV MAGIC

Beyond the fact that the Peanuts Christmas special was a huge deal in that it was the first time the comic strip characters by Charles Schulz were translated to animation, it was also the first religious-based animated special to ever be played on tv, and offered a wonderful jazz score by Vince Guaraldi.  This cartoon has been played during the holidays every year since it played in 1965. The music was also a huge success, selling millions of copies.  At the time, A Charlie Brown Christmas was seen by 45% of those watching television in the US.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown quickly followed the Christmas special in October of 1966, although it was the third, not the second, coming after Charlie Brown’s All Stars in June of the same year. It was nominated for an Emmy. Longtime Peanuts specials producer Lee Mendelson, (who brought Schulz and Melendez together to translate the Peanuts comic strip into a cartoon, among many other important roles in the history of Peanuts specials) was outvoted in the discussion about Charlie Brown getting rocks instead of candy.  He wanted him to get his fair share.  Apparently the audience that year agreed with him, sending the character thousands of bags and boxes of candy to Melendez’s animation studio!

My childhood is filled with memories of watching the specials with my dad.  We also played my Snoopy Come Home board game a lot together.  We quoted lines from all the cartoons and the comic strip, and I’d even say seeing them every year influenced my going into a career selling art and promoting the artistry of animation.

Dog on Duty, a limited edition with three hand-painted layers, was created for the anniversary of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Dog on Duty, a limited edition with three hand-painted layers, was created for the anniversary of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. It included the drawings that capture Snoopy’s struggles and bravery as a flying ace.

It was quite an experience the one time I got to eat dinner next to Bill Melendez at an event some years ago, only to discover what a wonderful sense of humor and quick wit he had.  I had already heard he was famously a great boss, according to many people in the industry who had worked at a number of studios.  In the interviews I conducted more recently, that compliment was repeated by everyone who had ever taken part in the creation of the Peanuts specials or any other Melendez studio project.

ANNIVERSARY PEANUTS LIMITED EDITIONS

This "Snoopy's Audition" limited edition was the first one released for anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas. #SnoopyVulture
This “Snoopy’s Audition” limited edition was the first one released for anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas. #SnoopyVulture

2015, the anniversaries were coming up for both the Christmas and Halloween specials.  The company connected with the Melendez family and his studio, who sells all things Peanuts and Bill Melendez Studio related in terms of art, planned a big event to celebrate with Peanuts art.  They spent a long time, with the help and design artistry of Peanuts specials director Larry Leichliter, creating an anniversary collection of Peanuts limited edition cels.  There were only 65 and 66 in each editions.  When the first piece was released, we all called those folks who had always bought art when the company released art.  They were allocated, so each gallery could only get a few of these A Charlie Brown Christmas limited editions and the It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown limited editions.  (I think I got as many as any gallery was allotted, with 6 of each edition).  Those who bought the first one, got right of first refusal on each subsequent piece so they could match the sets.  So some said yes to them all, some skipped one, and so it went.

My Peanuts collectors tend to leave their art with me for a while and come in only a few times a year.  One thing led to another, we did inventory, and POOF! We actually have a few Peanuts Charlie Brown and Snoopy limited editions (and of course some with the whole Peanuts gang!)  available for sale!  Imagine my surprise!

This Peanuts limited edition cel, "Dog Gone Commercial" captures when Snoopy was decorating his dog house for the holidays.  Classic!
This Peanuts limited edition cel, “Dog Gone Commercial” captures when Snoopy was decorating his dog house for the holidays. Classic!

Anyway, this is all to the benefit of big Peanuts fans who will fall in love with these images.  The largest Christmas and Halloween limited edition cels each took weeks to complete, there was so much hand-work involved.  If you think they look cool online, they are truly spectacular in person!  We look forward to a fan or a few fans who grew up with the cartoons and Peanuts comic strips like I did winding up with these pieces.  They can bring them home as a wonderful, nostalgic reminder of holidays gone by.  Or rather, holidays to come, because they will be playing these Peanuts TV specials every year until our great-grandchildren think they came out for them!

In this blog are all the images of the pieces we have.  Click HERE to see them all, or on each image for more information for those specific pieces.

The work-intensive A Charlie Brown Christmas limited edition art created for the anniversary called "50 Years of Joy and Wonder"
The work-intensive A Charlie Brown Christmas limited edition art created for the anniversary called “50 Years of Joy and Wonder”

The anniversary It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown limited edition that we have for sale sold out immediately when it was released, with only 66 created. Linus and Snoopy steal the show again!
The anniversary It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown limited edition that we have for sale sold out immediately when it was released, with only 66 created. Linus and Snoopy steal the show again!

Remember if you love Peanuts and the Charlie Brown TV specials, there are some original production cels available from a number of cartoons you’ll remember we get directly from the Bill Melendez Studio.  None from the Christmas or Halloween specials, but we’ve found a few choice ones for fans from Snoopy Come Home, several Valentine specials, and others that would excite you. Contact us!

We’ll leave you with this an interview I did with the producer Lee Mendelson, talking about the history of the Peanuts cartoons:

Spotlight on Studio Art: Buying Original and Limited Edition Animation Model Sheets

I thought today I’d talk about my very favorite kind of animation art, model sheets.  The explanation of animation model sheets, according to wikipedia:

“In animation, a model sheet, also known as a character boardcharacter sheetcharacter study or simply a study, is a document used to help standardize the appearance, poses, and gestures of an animated character. Model sheets are required when large numbers of artists are involved in the production of an animated film to help maintain continuity in characters from scene to scene, as one animator may only do one shot out of the several hundred that are required to complete an animated feature film. A character not drawn according to the production’s standardized model is referred to as off-model.

Model sheets are drawings of posed cartoon or comic strip characters that are created to provide a reference template for several artists who collaborate in the production of a lengthy or multiple-edition work of art such as a comic book, animated film or television series. Model sheets usually depict the character’s head and body as they appear at various angles (a process known as “model rotation”), includes sketches of the character’s hands and feet, and shows several basic facial expressions.

Model sheets ensure that, despite the efforts of several or many artists, their work exhibits unity, as if one artist created the drawings (that is, they are “on model”). They show the character’s structure, proportions, attire, and body language. Often, several sheets are required to depict a character’s subtler emotional and physical attitudes.”

Finding original model sheets of characters that millions of people know and love always brings me great joy.  Actually, even finding obscure model sheets from movies or characters only loved by diehard fans or super-geeky animation fans is great fun.

In my 30+ years selling animation art, I’ve sold some amazing original model sheets.

There are two I remember the most and I’m the most proud of….One was from Alice in Wonderland, of Alice.  It was the one the animators actually used, that had been photocopied and you could find the photostat versions often online.  I think it looked something like this:

I also found a great Pongo model sheet, and since he’s one of my favorite characters, I was very excited to sell that one (so don’t fall in love ;).

Over the years, I had Snow White and the dwarfs, Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty, The Ugly Duckling, and a bunch of various Mickey and the rest of the fab five like Donald Duck and Goofy.  In 30 years, I’ve maybe found one a year.  Partly that’s because I have always done a ton of research to know where they’ve been before they get to me, and the more popular and collectible animation art has become, the riskier buying anything you can’t trace gets.

Interestingly, not that many people are as big a fan as I am of them.  I’ve always attracted more collectors who love production cels.  But..the characters that have been seen by millions and continue to be seen are created and kept consistent through these images.  It’s a big deal!  It’s the artistry of the character design sitting there on the wall!

I’m not trying to pitch you guys to want to buy them, because I do so rarely find them.   I just want people to understand the beauty and genius behind them. We do have one right now, and it’s one of those that are cobbled together by animators who want to keep a character consistent by seeing it from every angle…but it also has more than one character on it.  Another love of mine as an animation art dealer is the art of Fantasia.  The film is a classic, of course, but it also has an artistic quality that is unique in all of of Disney history.

Here is the model sheet we’ve got right now, and actually I’m looking at it in person, because it makes me happy, especially this time of year.

Unicorn model sheet from Fantasia available at ArtInsights
Unicorn model sheet from Fantasia available at ArtInsights

There are plenty of photostat versions of model sheets for collectors who either can’t find the original, can’t afford one, or just want to collect a variety of pieces from the time that capture the art behind the films they love. For example, there are lots of photostat model sheets from Alice in Wonderland, as many different ones as the number of characters represented in the film.

Here are just a few, so you can see how wonderful they are and how perfectly they capture less “popular” characters…

great examples of photostat model sheets from Alice in Wonderland
Two great examples of photostat model sheets from Alice in Wonderland

I’m toying with the idea of finding more photostat images to sell to my clients.  I didn’t use to have them or carry them, because they are some hundreds of dollars, and have been for some time, because they come from the time.

Contact the gallery if it’s something you might be interested in, because I know a bunch of old-time collectors who have them.  How wonderful would these look in someone’s office?!  Yes, they are esoteric aesthetically, but that’s what makes them work in a professional environment.  The same is true for a house that has a lot of tradition art in it.  Either original or photostat model sheets will work there when other animation might not!

For those who love Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera, there are some great images available from those studios as well.  We have an original from 1959 that’s more of a layout and a model sheet that is clearly from back when they are designing characters.  How awesome is it to know these characters hadn’t even been placed in a cartoon yet?  Fans of Quickdraw McGraw will get a kick out of that, and it’s definitely a piece of animation history.

A layout/model drawing of Hanna Barbera characters from 1959 available at ArtInsights
A layout/model drawing of Hanna Barbera characters from 1959 available at ArtInsights

Here are some limited editions with Tom and Jerry,Wile. E. Coyote and Roadrunner, and the gang from Scooby Doo.  The designs for Tom and Jerry are particularly interesting, given they were created while Hanna and Barbera were at MGM and the duo won seven Oscars and were nominated for another 7!  To put things in proper perspective, Bugs won only one Oscar!!

A limited edition of an early model of Tom and Jerry available from ArtInsights
A limited edition of an early model of Tom and Jerry available from ArtInsights

The Mystery Machine Gang and Scooby Doo Model Sheet available at ArtInsights
The Mystery Machine Gang and Scooby Doo Model Sheet available at ArtInsights

A limited edition based on a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner model sheet available at ArtInsights
A limited edition based on a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner model sheet available at ArtInsights

These do a great job of mixing the artistry behind the characters and the color and pop of production cels.  Again, they show the brain behind the movement and characterization of these classic cartoons, but in the above images you also get the color, hand-painted cel so many collectors want.

What it comes down to for me, is model sheets really represent the history behind animation.  They show our favorite characters in positions and doing things that sometimes they haven’t even done yet in a cartoon. They also capture just how talented not only the character animators are, but also those working with them who have to stay on model regardless of what is happening in their scenes.  There is so much skill, discipline and artistry in animation.  There’s no greater example of that than in animation model sheets.

If any of you collectors or animators have any great images, put them in the comments or email them to me, I always love seeing them!

Spotlight on Studio Art: IN HONOR OF THE LAST JEDI, a look at STAR WARS ART (and a review of the great new film!)

Many of you know I’m also a film critic.  I got to see the great new Star Wars release on Monday, and there’s a review on our sister site, Cinema Siren.  But for all you fans who want to read it who DON’T go on there regularly, it’s at the bottom of this article.

*it’s verified SPOILER FREE by Michael Barry, who hasn’t seen the film and doesn’t want to know any plot points*  If you don’t want to read it, you can stop at the art by Alex Ross and look no further on the post.

STAR WARS ART

In honor of The Last Jedi, I am writing a bit about the official Star Wars art we have at ArtInsights:

The art of Star Wars has always been collectible.  In fact, as many of you know, George Lucas has such a vast collection of art and artifacts from the saga, he’s building a museum to house it and his other fine fine art.

My experience of people who collect Star Wars art, not just toys or models, is they are some of the most enthusiastic, geeky collectors of all fandom.  They are notoriously obsessed with accuracy.  John Alvin created a number of images for the first three films, then for their re-releases and was thrilled to create the official images for Star Wars Celebration.

The Trench official Star Wars A New Hope limited edition by John Alvin
The Trench official Star Wars A New Hope limited edition by John Alvin

He often referenced times when a fan would come up and tell them how he got everything about a particular ship or craft right, and it was always when he was at his happiest.  He himself was an absolute Star Wars geek, and at the time of his death he left behind dozens of completely crafted, painted, and completed models of everything from X-Wings to the Falcon and various ships of the Galactic Empire.  It’s why he was thrilled when LucasFilm came to him to create an image called “The Trench” as official art for their website.

 

One of my favorite images John ever created as a limited edition is “There Will Be No Bargain”.  At the time there was no official Star Wars art featuring Salacious Crumb. We created a piece that highlighted the characters in Return of the Jedi, but included Salacious Crumb as a main feature.  Often when people come into the gallery and point out the piece, I’m temped to do my impersonation of his laugh (but I stop myself).

There Will Be No Bargain Star Wars Return of the Jedi Limited Edition by John Alvin
There Will Be No Bargain Star Wars Return of the Jedi Limited Edition by John Alvin

The art for the Star Wars Concert has a long, strange history.  The poster for the Star Wars Concert is the most highly prized original poster collectors look for from the saga. John Alvin’s art was used for the poster announcing a concert to be held at the Hollywood Bowl with John Williams.  Only 1500 were to be made and when the show was cancelled, they stopped printing.  No one knows just how many posters were created, but not anything close to 1500.  I love the concept art for the poster, because R2D2 and C3PO are two of my favorite Star Wars characters.  Like two bad pennies, they just keep showing up! 😉

Star Wars Concert Poster art and images from the concert poster from the book "The Art of John Alvin"
Star Wars Concert Poster art and images from the concert poster from the book “The Art of John Alvin”

Mike Kungl’s Star Wars art has been hugely popular, also because of the precision the artist used in creating his images.  His work was so popular, it wound up being featured on the set of the Big Bang Theory.  Even now, people come into the gallery and recognize his style from the show.

This "Patience" Jedi Master Star Wars limited edition by Mike Kungl is a reminder we've waited all year for The Last Jedi!
This “Patience” Jedi Master Star Wars limited edition by Mike Kungl is a reminder we’ve waited all year for The Last Jedi!

He excels at creating very dramatic renderings styled after propaganda posters, and that’s what Star Wars fans love about his art.  Every one is very iconic.  Here he is talking to me about his art:

We got Roger Kastel, who created the Empire Strikes Back poster to create art for us. At the time, he wasn’t even doing any illustration work any more, he was doing traditional paintings.  He created a number of graphite images based on both his work on Jaws and Empire Strikes Back.  He stopped doing them some time ago, but we still have one.  I did love working with him, and really his ESB image is by far the most iconic of the entire saga!

An original graphite by The Empire Strikes Back movie poster artist Roger Kastel
An original graphite by The Empire Strikes Back movie poster artist Roger Kastel

As to new art, since we have felt strongly a long time about only working with artists who have create art for the actual campaigns or LucasFilm projects, we don’t sell a lot of art from the new movies.  If one of the artists we know who worked on older films will do a commission, we will do those with our clients, or if artist Steve Thomas does something, we make an exception.  His advertisement-styled graphic images are very popular and reasonable for fans, and they are official Star Wars art, so we try to get as many as we can of those, because they generally get released at $89 and only go up a bit to $150 right before they sell out.  We have BB8 which sold out quite some time ago, but we have!

rolling-droid-bb8-star-wars-force-awakens-artinsights
We have this sold out Star Wars Rolling Droid limited edition by Steve Thomas!

 

Signed Star Wars: Celebration art by Alex Ross
Signed Star Wars: Celebration art by Alex Ross (which should be called, “Watch where you’re shooting, pal!”)

Alex Ross did a special piece that was for one of the comic books (still canon!) and we have that, too!  It’s a well-priced piece that was released for a convention, and we have it in the gallery.  Our favorite scoundrel is front and center, as we remember him.

If you’d like to see all the Star Wars art we currently have, CLICK HERE.

For those of you who are going to see the new movie soon, let us know what you think of it in the comments here or on our Facebook posting of this Spotlight article.  NO SPOILERS, please!  A Star Wars release always makes December even more the most wonderful time of the year!

May the force be with you.  Always.

 

 

 

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STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI Review:

The Character Development is Strong With This One

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is so good that it will thrill and surprise everyone from the first generation of fans to its newest recruit. It reaffirm to all the power of the force. This film, as written and directed by Rian Johnson, moves the saga forward dramatically, but in truth, it is all about character.

The Last Jedi is unquestionably Johnson’s baby, which given how controlling the LucasFilm powers-that-be can be, speaks to their faith in his vision.  When asked how he approached crafting the story, Johnson said, “This is the 2nd chapter. The Force Awakens created these vibrant new characters, it was the job of this movie to pick them up and really test their mettle and put them through their paces.”   

It’s best not to discuss any plot points. Fans already know Luke Skywalker is in the movie, because he’s the biggest character on the one-sheet poster.  Audiences will learn more about the characters they’ve always known and loved, and more about both the sophomore and freshman classes.  As to those from A Force Awakens, Poe, Rey, Kylo, and Finn equally get their chance to shine, and show the complexity and motivations of their characters.  There are also some great new additions to the cast.  Most notable is Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico and the dynamic she brings to her scenes with John Boyega. In an interview, Tran talked about why. “From the beginning we clicked during the audition process. I don’t think there’s a better partner anyone could have when you’re going into a movie like this.”  Their chemistry is undeniable.

tran-boyega-last-jedi-cinema-siren

Kelly Marie Tran also talked about the continued theme in the Star Wars Universe of having strong self-aware female characters.  “From the beginning, the Star Wars films have always been groundbreaking in that way.  What keeps people interested is they continue to do so.”  Another new strong female character portrayed by Laura Dern has a very interesting arc we see unfold in what almost feels like real time.  The potential for spoilers dictates no more is said about her role, or that of other Star Wars newcomer Benicio Del Toro, but they fold themselves and their storylines convincingly into the saga.

With all the newer members of the cast, lovers of the franchise can rest easy about the old guard.  Carrie Fisher’s Leia is luminous, as always.  Her swan song took a 1977 ingenue albeit fearless princess, and turned her into both a general, and a powerful wise-woman.   Even at that, it is Luke’s story that is most enriched, having several wow moments that legitimately rival the last act of A New Hope. 

As to the expanded diversity in The Last Jedi, it’s not something that hits the audience on the head, but really feels right.  In a story where there is conflict and resistance, it makes sense that those who believe in freedom and equality would be coming from every perspective and gender, as well as a wide variety of alien species. 

Visually, the audiences are brought through everything from cityscapes, to deserts, vast galactic spaceships, and desolate island landscapes. Some of the most exciting scenes of dogfights in space take us through such spectacular environments they will make your eyes pop. 

Also, as one would expect, there are some spectacular sets, and, as has always been the case for the films of Star Wars, there is a great balance of the real and the digital.  Says Johnson, “We had a huge amount of practical sets for this film. Part of the lived-in feel of Star Wars is something we really wanted to capture.  At the same time, the other end of Star Wars is constantly pushing the envelope in terms of special effects.”   “Rian’s script at first count had something like 160 sets,” said production designer Rick Heinrichs, (Pirate of the Caribbean, Beetlejuice), but they wound up with around 125 sets where it was filmed at Pinewood Studios in England, as well as other locations around the world.  For example, they built a cave that was changed and relit to work for three other settings.

There’s so much going on it’s almost impossible to remember the entire story (not that it would be shared in this review..) Which of course, may be a ploy to get audiences all to see it multiple times.  At 2 hours and 23 minutes, it is definitely on the long side, and there are so many plot threads it feels like they could get knotted up in the viewer’s brain.   It’s possible there’s an even better movie that could have been carved out in the editing room.  However,  a shorter film might have sacrificed the strong character development, which is what will remain with fans long after the credits roll.

Lovers of Star Wars are incredibly lucky to have Johnson at the helm, who is clearly a super-fan of the saga. He took the stories, archetypes and mythology, and expanded and enhanced it in nearly every way.

A-

Spotlight on Studio Art: The Queen Transforms Disney Publishing Original Disney Storybook Art Illustration

I wanted to tell collectors about one of the rare times we could buy Disney storybook art directly from Disney.

Quite a few years ago, around the time Disney was deciding whether to keep having an art program or not, someone who had been working in and around Disney for many years contacted me about the likelihood of Disney Publishing opening up to sell art to galleries.  Obviously, I was ecstatic!

There are a lot of artists who created Disney storybook art that are great talents, and some of them are even legends now.  Claude Coats, Retta Scott, Bill Peet…just to name a few!  I had the great pleasure of selling a whole collection of illustrations for Retta Scott’s Cinderella book.  It was for the puppet book, not the original storybook, but they were glorious and finding and placing it with a collector is one of my favorite memories as an art dealer.  Regardless of the fact that whoever was building the program at Disney for illustration art sales wasn’t branding the art based on the artist, but rather the subject matter, I was still all in.  I knew my clients would be thrilled.

As a test to see whether there was interest, Disney was doing some low key selling of original Disney storybook illustrations on Ebay.  This was back before Ebay had unintentionally created the garage sale feel they have now. I scoured the site for when they posted art.  They only did it for a very brief time, and I knew about it from the beginning.

One of the images they placed on there was this original Disney publishing illustration from a storybook about Villains.  You can see the space to the right where the words go.

"The Evil Queen Transforms" original Disney storybook art from Disney Publishing
“The Evil Queen Transforms” original Disney storybook art from Disney Publishing

What I love about a great Disney storybook art for a well-known story is you get both color and story in one place . To me the composition and story elements of the Queen transforming into the wicked witch are wonderfully vibrant and compelling.  The skull that the poison gas is creating, and how it connects you visually with the skull of poison on the apple is scary and beautiful at the same time.  We can tell there is very bad magic at work, and the plot is about to go south for poor Snow White…

What is also great about illustration in general is that very rarely is there just one medium used.  It might be drawn on illustration board, with gouache, but enhanced with airbrush, or pen and ink.  Illustrators use whatever will solve their design problem or build the aesthetic they are after for that project.

We bought the art from Ebay, and promptly sold it to a villains collector.  Oddly, even then they didn’t know or weren’t willing to tell us who did the actual illustration. (Yet another reason I should have been working inside Disney…CREDIT, people…CREDIT!) Years later we were thrilled to be able to offer it again to another lover of illustration and villains, or rather misunderstood heroes.

Sadly, the folks inside Disney publishing thought better of selling the art out of their archives.  I do wish they’d lost their head and sold a bit more before coming to their senses!  I remember my friend Lella, who used to be the head of the Disney archives, would bemoan the fact that the company sold so many backgrounds from their movies to the public through Sotheby’s.  At least they DID.  We were only able to get about three pieces before collectors got wind of what they were doing and then the prices often went above 10k.  Lucky for us we knew about it at the beginning!

For collectors of Snow White and villains, this piece is particularly great, since it’s so prohibitively expensive to get both the Queen and the evil witch. Also, since the vast Snow White art collection owned by Steve Ison was sold back to Disney, finding original art representing the characters has gotten a lot harder and more expensive.  

I have seen cels of the moment of her transformation before, but they are very strange and also very expensive.  Here’s a way to represent the darkness of the character, tell story, and celebrate wonderful illustrative talent at once.

 

Spotlight on Studio Art: The Art of Alex Ross at ArtInsights and on Video

Alex Ross has become the #1 collected artist in comics.  His style changed the world of comic book art, and he brought an illustrative, more Norman Rockwell style, with realistic, hyper-realistic depictions of superheroes as real-life humans, albeit with way more muscles.  As a gallery that specializes in pop culture, we have carried the work of Alex Ross for over 20 years…Now, his agents have finally started making videos where Alex himself talks about his work and inspiration.  I thought i’d talk about some of my experience selling his work, and post some of the videos here:

He talks about his realism in art here:

As great as Alex Ross’s work is, he wouldn’t be nearly as famous in terms of art collecting had it not been for the Warner Bros stores.  They got behind his work and promoted it as real art as well as a collectible.  His images were some of the crowning glories in the stores, always put in a place of prominence. His new limited editions were released to increasingly committed fans who were quickly becoming completist collectors.

I had my own taste of Alex’s enthusiastic fandom when ArtInsights was the first and only gallery to represent Alex Ross Art at a comic convention.  We had a booth at New York Comic Con showing only The Art of Alex Ross.  Alex’s representatives were kind enough to give us some great exclusive limited editions, and we also had full color and graphite originals.  No other art gallery before or since has had that exclusive.

Crisis on Infinite Earths Giclee on Canvas by Alex Ross AP1
Crisis on Infinite Earths Giclee on Canvas by Alex Ross AP1. We released this image in our Alex Ross booth at NYCC.

I had been working with what is now the head of the collections of Alex Ross limited editions for over 20 years at that point, and she knew me well, so she knew I would represent the art with integrity and honesty.  The same agent had been in charge of the Warner Bros. stores before they went out of business, so she knew everything necessary to design and implement a fine art portfolio for Alex Ross.  She’d been doing it for decades.

From the first day of the convention, we were swamped with convention attendees.  Some of them were just fans in love with his work, but not interested in buying art.  Others were avid collectors looking to buy the latest exclusive.  We had a Doctor Strange, Captain America, and Batman exclusive signed lithograph that we sold out of the first day. Had there been any DC Comics original art of the Justice League, a concern in the far east would have bought every one of them.  Alas, he has not been working on DC projects for some time, so there was no art for sale.  Apparently this one group will buy absolutely anything, with almost unlimited funds.  This is one reason why mere mortal collectors should look to graphites if they want something original of his art.

Many people wonder why Alex never comes to conventions.  There’s an easy explanation for that, but I think fans and art collectors often don’t consider it.  Alex still paints in the traditional way.  For the most part, he is not creating inside a computer.  He still uses brushes, models, and paint.  That means that when other working artists can make adjustments by clicking on the mouse of their computer, Alex Ross would have to completely repaint the art.

He talks about physical painting and why he does it:

He is a traditional illustrator in a digital world, but he likes it that way.  His idols are Norman Rockwell, Leyendecker, and the rest of the geniuses of twentieth century illustrative art.  He was particularly influenced by Andrew Loomis, who was not only a great illustrator, but the author of instructional art books essential to the craft.

If you know the work of Norman Rockwell AND Alex Ross, you may recognize the strong influence and reference Alex Ross used from some of Rockwell’s works in Ross covers for Kingdom Come and Justice.  Here is a video of Alex Ross talking about his inspiration for The Justice League paintings:

To my mind, when Alex Ross creates images like the Marvel Shadows and the DC Shadows series, he does his best work.  I usually prefer his images of single characters.  To my mind, we get to see shadows and light playing on the subject more distinctly, seeing more specific choices he’s making.

My favorite images to date, by far, are his images inspired by Universal Monsters.  Created entirely in shades of grey, black and white, these pieces show the nuance with composition, shadow, and light only a great illustrator can express.  There are times when Alex’s color art is so frenetic and intense, I have a hard time focusing.  That’s not to say it isn’t compelling, I just think in Alex Ross’s Dracula, for example, or his Bride of Frankenstein, you almost feel like you could step into the painting and become part of the story.  They are at once evocative of the films represented and seductive as unique illustrations, separate from the subject matter.  Whether you know the stories or not, you are drawn to the tableaus he has laid out before you.

ALEX ROSS UNIVERSAL MONSTERS:

Not only are all the Universal Monsters officially licensed images, the folks at Alex Ross Art got permission and became officially connected with Bela Lugosi and even has the logo of his estate on the certificate of authenticity.  Much to absolutely no surprise, his Universal Monsters giclees on canvas were the hit of San Diego Comic-Con.  They outsold all the Marvel and DC images! 

The whole set of Universal Monsters giclees on canvas by Alex Ross
The whole set of Universal Monsters giclees on canvas by Alex Ross

There were only 15 put aside as matching sets, and they are far less than if you buy them individually and we have #13 if anyone is interested in the whole set.

ALEX ROSS SPIDER-MAN:

We love Alex Ross Spider-Man art.  Whenever we get the opportunity, we get whatever Alex Ross Art releases for our clients.  Alex has loved Spider-Man his whole life, and actually his first memory of him is the live-action character on The Electric Company! 

Spider-Man: Rockomic by Alex Ross Signed Limited Edition Lithograph
Spider-Man: Rockomic by Alex Ross Signed Limited Edition Lithograph

We have a piece called Rockomic and another very sold out one called Spider-Man Visions, plus the more recent Spider-Man: Marvels. My own memory of Spidey is from the Saturday Morning Cartoon, which was the best!  It came on at 6:30 am and I got up especially to see it.

 

Am I the only one who really loves Aquaman?  I mean, he’s not just some stupid character to be made fodder for jokes in Entourage!  Whether he’s the blonde character I know from the Superfriends or Jason Mamoa, who nearly singlehandedly saved the new Justice League movie, I enjoy having him around to manipulate water, make jokes, and talk to fish… Apparently, Alex loves him, too.  

He talks about it:

(If you like the image below, you can find a limited edition of Aquaman HERE.)

If you’re a fan of Captain America (which I am!) and Iron Man, here’s Alex talking about what he enjoys about creating images of these superheroes.  And you can find some great Captain America art HERE.

One of the latest releases from Alex Ross is of Wonder Woman, and it’s called “Wonder Woman: Goddess of Truth”.   After the image was posted on the Alex Ross twitter feed, Patty Jenkins saw it and fell in love with it and sent Alex a note saying how beautiful it was.  The best aspect of Alex Ross’s Wonder Women: Goddess of Truth is how perfectly it translates into giclee. 

Wonder Woman: Goddess of Truth Giclee on Paper by Alex Ross
Wonder Woman: Goddess of Truth Giclee on Paper by Alex Ross

Giclees are basically a very high-quality ink-jet printer.  Instead of only 4 different inks, there are many different ones that spray microscopic drops of paint that read the original within a millionth of a difference in color.  This original watercolor gets translated so perfectly, it really looks like the original.  Actually, I call it “Colors of the Wind” Wonder Woman, and we only have APs. For obvious reasons it was very popular when it was released and sold out immediately.  This image is my very favorite superhero portrait he’s ever done.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll leave you all with videos of Alex talking about his career and sharing advice to artists:

Click here If you want to see all the art by Alex Ross on our site…

and for those artists out there, find inspiration here and wherever you go.  If Alex can do it, so can you.  Make a plan, and stick to it.  Work hard, and stay positive.  For the rest of us, we can be the vital ones who support these visual artists by hanging their art on our walls!

Spotlight on Studio Art: On Pearl Harbor Day, The Evocative Band of Brothers Art by John Alvin

John Alvin did art for the campaign to promote the wonderful, timeless HBO mini-series Band of Brothers, which won 6 Emmys.  I thought on the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I’d examine the story behind John Alvin creating Band of Brothers campaign art and find out more about the process, and the general fascination with World War II history I recall John having and discussing with me on a regular basis.

Concept art for Band of Brothers by John Alvin
Concept art for Band of Brothers by John Alvin

I remember John Alvin and I talking many times about World War II.  He never mentioned his personal history, or how he was connected to it.  I told him some of the stories about my family, which he found very compelling.  My grandmother Colette had been working in London when France fell and Charles de Gaulle made his speech about the importance of everyone doing what they could do in the war effort.  She was working directly under Rene Pleven, as part of de Gaulle’s Free French Forces.  She went to de Gaulle and asked him how she could help, and he told her he needed her in New York.  She had grown up in New York, spoke both French and English, and knew many important people in the US who could help, so he sent her there to organize relief for the Free French.

My dad, who was only 5 or 6 at the time, had to come from Paris to Vichy, France, to North Africa and onward to New York to reunite with her while she was doing her work for de Gaulle.  My dad told me during that time he saw a man get kicked down a long flight of stairs in the subway by a German officer, cracking his head open.  He remembers it vividly to this day. He doesn’t remember Pearl Harbor, because in France, they were already deeply into the war.   

John was fascinated. He never told me his story himself.

Concept art for Band of Brothers by John Alvin
Concept art for Band of Brothers by John Alvin

When he spoke to me, it was about that book and that series, and how great he thought it was.  I, too, fell under its spell, especially as so many great actors took part.  I’d been a fan of Tom Hanks since Mazes and Monsters. His second collaboration with Steven Spielberg, the Emmy Award-winning miniseries was about “Easy” Company, a parachute infantry regiment. It made Damien Lewis famous in the US, (a gift that keeps on giving..) and was at the time the most expensive TV miniseries ever made by a network. The first episode premiered on September 9th, 2001, two days before the September 11th attack.

I just spoke to Andrea Alvin about why she thought he was so connected to his work on Band of Brothers. As you’ll see, John Alvin’s connection to the subject ran deep.  His father, Albert Alvin, had been a career military man.  He was a captain in the Army, and spent World War II as a military intelligence officer stationed in Italy, because he spoke fluent Italian.  His mother Rena had been an Army nurse and followed Patton’s troops.  She was at the Battle of the Bulge, where she worked right behind the front lines caring for the injured from all forces; American, German…anyone who needed urgent medical intervention.   The battle lasted from December 16th, 1944 to January 25th, 1945.  For the rest of her life, she would get weepy every year around Christmas remembering the horrors of that traumatic experience.

Graphite concept art for HBO's Band of Brothers by John Alvin
Graphite concept art for HBO’s Band of Brothers by John Alvin

Also, as a young child, John Alvin lived for about four years in Germany.  His father was part of the occupational army helping rebuild Germany*.  When John was 4 or 5, his dad took him to an abandoned Messerschmitt factory.  It was like a graveyard of airplanes.  He was allowed to climb on and in the planes.  It made a huge impression on him, and Andrea counts that experience as one of the main reasons he was so obsessed with building models.

The art John Alvin created for the Band of Brothers campaign, though not ultimately used, has an emotional quality and visual authenticity derived from his love of history, interest in research, and his personal connection to that time. The color images look like they are done in pastel, but John never worked in pastel.  He worked on pastel paper, and used Prisma color pencils and freehand airbrush to get the effect of pastels.  Though not sure, Andrea thinks John may have also used some actual pictures of his father as reference.

Whatever his inspiration, he captured the bravery, and the intensity of focus and commitment the men of Easy Company must have maintained as they struggled through the terrifying experience of surviving war.  On the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we think of all those men and women who gave their lives or lost their optimism and their innocence, and who fought bravely to keep this country safe. 

We also remember that standing up for those being endangered around the world, as well as on our own shores, is the true mark of patriotism.

If you’re interested in any of these great images, click here for the John Alvin Band of Brothers art page. 

*years later, John would find out that the entire time he lived in Germany, they had a bodyguard who followed them everywhere.

 

Spotlight on Studio Art: The Harry Potter Concept Art by Production Designer Stuart Craig

Production Designer Stuart Craig has quite a CV. Beyond being the BAFTA award-winning designer for the entire Harry Potter film series, he has also won three Oscars, for The English Patient, Dangerous Liaisons, and Gandhi.  He has worked on over three dozen films, including as art director on classics A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Superman (1978).  Do you love Notting Hill, The Mission, or The Elephant Man? He worked on those, too. He has continued his part in translating J.K.Rowling’s vision for the cinematic world with last year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and is currently working on The Crimes of Grindelwald, which is being released in 2018.

He is essentially the architect of the world we see onscreen for all the Harry Potter movies.  Indeed, as directors came and went, his involvement stayed consistent.  An argument could be made that continuity, and the loyalty of fans to commit to every film, are largely to his credit.

Journey to Hogwarts by Jim Salvati

When the Harry Potter studio tour at Leavesden was opening, Ruth Clampett, who has always been the conduit between Warner Bros. and the art world for all things Harry Potter, worked to get the art used to create the environments, that so compelled fans of the franchise, into the tour.  She wanted Stuart Craig Harry Potter prints to be available for purchase by his fans.  Ruth has always been a great judge of what Harry Potter fans want, since she herself is a superfan.

I remember when I spoke to Stuart Craig, he said he couldn’t imagine anyone wanting his concept images.  The pieces Ruth wanted to release were of finished and “in process” concepts, which were created by both Stuart Craig, who drew out the graphites, and architectural and concept artist Andrew Williamson, who finished them in colorful, fully rendered concept images. Williamson is now the Global Head of the Art Department at Double Negative.  Double Negative has worked on Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Justice League, Blade Runner 2049, and many more of the biggest films of the last nearly 20 years.

Ruth went about selecting images evocative of the film series, that would resonate with fans in both the UK and the US.  It required quite a bit of convincing to get the art into Leavesdon, but when she did, they were a huge success, much to Stuart Craig’s surprise.  Production designers see their work as a means to an end.  It was hard for him to picture fans wanting to put Stuart Craig Harry Potter prints as art on their walls.  My experience is quite the opposite.

Because I was involved in selling official Harry Potter art to collectors from the very beginning, I knew many of the collectors who loved and bought the art of book cover artist Mary GrandPre who had embraced the films would also collect art by the man partially responsible for bringing the world of the books to the screen.

I love seeing how a movie comes together.  I love seeing design, alteration, and creativity as it develops ideas into physical form.  Not enough people realize how much the production designer and their team influence the finished film and how it’s received.

Take a look at the many wonderful images of Harry Potter concept art by Stuart Craig on our ArtInsights page for the production designer.  Because we were in it at the beginning, we get to have limited editions by him that say “Warner Bros. Studio Tour London” on them.

Meanwhile, I spoke to Stuart in 2011 before the release of the first of the two last films.  I just posted it on YouTube as a video (it is mostly just my phone interview, but there are pictures of his art accompanying it)–if you want to hear a bit about his career in his own voice, check it out HERE.

 

Spotlight on Studio Art: Star Wars Visions Deluxe book and limited editions

Star Wars: Visions was released on its own, and in a deluxe edition with five hand-signed giclees.  They include art by Alex Ross, Moebius, Donato Giancola, Daniel Greene, and Jamie Wyeth. The deluxe book also includes 40 extra pages focusing on the artists’ processes, complete with sketches.  There were only 500 created.

It sold out immediately, as collectibles of this nature do.  We got as many as we could at the time, and of course didn’t open them, that being the privilege of the collector who takes them home.  So we never got a close look at the prints. The one copy we still have sits unopened. 

The images were curated by J.W. Rinzler, who was the executive editor at Lucasfilm. He is also responsible for New York Times bestsellers The Making of Star Wars and The Making of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and The Complete Making of Indiana Jones.

George Lucas decided, as an avid collector of both the art used to make and promote the Star Wars films, and fine and illustration art, to go out and find artists he loved in the fine art world to create images relating to his films.  This is a great idea, obviously, but here’s a little-known aspect of that project.  When an artist creates art relating to Star Wars, they have to, as part of the contract, offer their art to George Lucas as the lowest market price.  That is to say, if the artists involved usually work through galleries or agents, Lucas would have to have the right of first refusal for the art before even the galleries or agents had access.  This seems perfectly fair for those who usually create art for the franchise.  What about those outside the usual Star Wars Universe?

A number or artists used in the book are very famous in the world of contemporary fine art.  What a genius move for an art collector to get the lowest possible price for art by these successful artists, while getting them to create unique commissions for him.  Win-win? Yes!  Indeed there were only a few artists that didn’t sell their pieces for the book to Lucas.  As someone who is artist-centric, i’m going to say that’s a solid win for artists everywhere.  Now that, years after the release of the book and his acquisition of the art created for it, we know the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be built in Los Angeles, we can look forward to seeing at least some of these originals in person on its walls.

The beauty of this book, ultimately, is the continuing belief by Lucas, and his support of it through the creation is this art, that there should be no distinction between “high” art and “popular” art.  This is a notion I’ve been standing behind for the 25 years i’ve had a gallery dedicated to film, animation, and contemporary art.  I look forward to seeing the many paintings he bought from John Alvin, as well as his huge collection of art by Norman Rockwell.

AS TO THE BOOK:

Since the release of the book, Moebius has passed away, so getting a signed limited edition by him as part of the set is reason enough to buy the deluxe edition.  We’ve not really been promoting that we have a copy, because we certainly don’t want someone to buy the book and break up the limited editions and sell them separately.  This is one of those collectibles best reserved for a collector who will know how nice and right it is to keep them together!

There’s a great video about the collection of the artists HERE.

Spotlight on Studio Art: FOUND! Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

We just unearthed this set of Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin!  A fan asked us about availability of art from Gremlins, so we started researching the archives of the Estate of John Alvin, and lo and behold: a full set of storyboards for a finished advanced movie trailer!

Each one of the 17 images, posted below in sequence, were painted by hand as 5 x 7 fully executed paintings. The script is below the paintings and is original from the time, of course! If that doesn’t show us all just how much the movie and illustration worlds have changed, I don’t know what would! Beyond how great and exciting these are for fans of Gremlins, seeing the actual teaser trailer and finding exact moments captured from the storyboards…that’s just ultra-cool for movie geeks, especially when those storyboards were done by John Alvin, who did the official one-sheet for the film!

Sad to say, John did do some other sets of storyboards that became trailers, but the art from them has gone the way of whatever art director he was working with at the time. Notably, he did several of them for Jurassic Park. Two sets were used for the finished promotional trailers for the film, but none of the art survived.

Here is the Gremlins trailer, though, which you can watch to see his paintings come to life, and enjoy the messaging recreated in voiceover.  (Here is a link if you can’t see the video here.)

For those with interest in purchasing this set, I’m happy to report (and sorry to break it to interested parties) that we sold the whole set to a big fan and they are thrilled to add it to their collection!

Whether you might have been in the market or not, we’re betting it’s still going to be the coolest Christmas movie production art you’ll see this year!

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboard by John Alvin

 

A screenshot of the advance trailer, which follows John Alvin’s storyboards very closely!

 

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Eggs making a mess in the advance trailer, as in John’s storyboards.

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

A broken clock is about to strike 12 am, as in John’s storyboard.

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

The clock strikes! The shadows on the finished trailer are the same as in John’s storyboards.

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Discovery is imminent, as indicated in John’s storyboards.

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

John’s storyboard was used, right down to the box with holes. COOL!

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

Gremlins Teaser Trailer Storyboards by John Alvin

“Mom’s gonna kill us!” as created in John’s storyboards.

Wouldn’t it be so great if more of this historic art existed now, having survived the process of filming and campaigning the movies of our youth?  At least here we have a great example of hand painted campaign art by John Alvin for 1984’s Gremlins, a true Christmas cult classic!

Spotlight on Studio Art: Concept Art for Disneyland by Walt Peregoy

We were so excited when we gained access to images created by Walt Peregoy.  It was when he was alive, and we got to speak to him and meet him on several occasions.  He was truly a consummate artist, just like so many artists who were integral to the creation and development of Disneyland.

Finding rare and authentic art actually used to create a film, or build an enduring world like Disneyland is one of our greatest joys.  So many people online are finding and buying art created after the fact, or by fans.  Many of these fans are wonderful artists, but they are still creating fan art!  When we are able to offer concept art for something loved the world over, (in this case, Disneyland) it goes in our memories as yet another reason why we stick to small business and owning an art gallery.  Somebody has to be the custodian of the production art!  To us, there is a difference.  Putting our hands on the art, knowing it was toiled over, designed in some mid-century modern office, and even better, to recognize the avant-garde design style that went on to influence 101 Dalmatians, and inspire Disney to give the designate “LEGEND” to the artist.  Well, that’s the whole point of “film art by the filmmakers”.

Born in 1925, Peregoy knew early he wanted to be an artist.  He started taking classes at the ripe old age of nine, in Berkeley, California.  Through his teenage years, he studied at Chouinard Art Institute, (where animation luminaries Chuck Jones and Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston went, among many others) and at 17, quit school altogether to work at Disney, before abruptly leaving to fight in WWII, and then studying at arts universities after the war in Mexico and Paris.

In 1951, he came back to Disney.  Along with working on the designs for Disneyland, he and another artist also known for his stylized artistry, Eyvind Earle, worked on 1958’s Paul Bunyan, for which they were nominated for an Academy Award. He went on to be lead background painter on Sleeping Beauty, and became color stylist on 101 Dalmatians and The Sword and the Stone.

There’s a great Disney documentary called, “Four Artists Paint One Tree”.  What makes it so great is the fact that four illustrators who worked at Disney and in commercial art were highlighted, Marc Davis, Eyvind Earle, Joshua Meador, and Peregoy.  Walt Disney always believed the artistry required for animation and imagineering was “fine art”, and there were no qualifiers to the artists who worked at the studio.  To him, they were as impressive and talented as those in museums, and he promoted that perspective as often as possible.

What this documentary shows, and what I talk about all the time when people come into ArtInsights and ask about the artists represented, is that regardless of what these artists are working on, be it a character like Cruella, a background from Sleeping Beauty, or concept art for Disneyland, they are able to infuse it with their aesthetic, AND follow the guidelines required for the project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Dg8w6gk4cE

FANS OF ART AND ANIMATION SHOULD SEE THIS!!

I could watch this documentary over and over.  (and went down that same rabbit hole I go down every time I watch it…fascinating!) Are these artists stilted when they speak about their creations?  Yes.  Who cares?  Seeing them paint and explain their designs is ever-fascinating.  For any artists wanting to learn about how to express their own aesthetic, it’s superb.  For the lucky person who buys the concept art from 1955 for Disneyland by Walt Peregoy, it just reaffirms his genius.

ArtInsights Has Gifts for all your Disney, Marvel, Warner Bros., Star Wars, and DC fans!

It’s the holidays. Gifts are needed, stat! Not only does ArtInsights have a brand-new, easy to navigate, purchase-friendly site, we also have a lot of great images in stock, ready to ship, or ready to be wrapped and carried out.  Why is this an awesome thing?  There comes a time when we all need new, exciting, surprising gifts for our loved one.  What’s a person to do?  Come to ArtInsights!  Almost everyone loves movies, or cartoons, or superheroes, or all of the above! If you come home with the art actually created by the folks who make these essentials of pop culture, who work at the studios, make the posters, make the cartoons, you will be most valuable player of the holiday!! NO, buying a great gift isn’t the way to someone’s heart, but as Marilyn Monroe would say, “Gee! Doesn’t it help?” It shows you care enough to go out and find something super special that no one else would even think of.

Of course, if you buy at ArtInsights and it isn’t well received (a rare occurrence), you can always bring it back and trade it for something else!

We have art in all price ranges, from $50 to $98,000. (Want to buy an original by John Alvin, created in the process of making the Beauty and the Beast movie poster?)

Do come by and see what we have in our gallery in Reston Town Center, or check out the gift guide online.  It’s easy to buy and we’ll ship it right out to you!

Some of the art we have available:

Toy Story art by Andrea Alvin, The Avengers art, Guardians of the Galaxy art, Wonder Woman art, and Doctor Strange art by Alex Ross, sold out C3PO and R2D2 art by Steve Thomas, Frozen concept art as well as Frozen art by Amy Mebberson, production art from Fantasia, Batman and Wonder Woman art by Jim Lee, vintage Hanna Barbera art from The Flintstones, art from Harry Potter by production designer Stuart Craig, Lilo and Stitch, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella art by Michelle St. Laurent, Tim Rogerson, and Rob Kaz, and so so much more!  Click here to see a bunch of options, or contact us directly to request a specific film or character.  Don’t forget we also have new contemporary art from the Ten x Ten x Ten and Art Outsiders projects by genius pop artist extraordinaire Tennessee Loveless!

We will be at the gallery all weekend this weekend, Friday from 10am to 6pm, Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm…if you come into the gallery remember to register to win a sold out Marvel Captain America image by Alex Ross!

and if you are far-flung, on the web we are ALWAYS open, so great gifts are just a click away!

Contact us with any questions. artinsights@gmail.com or 703-478-0778.

Happy Holidays from ArtInsights!

John Alvin’s Blade Runner Movie Art from 1982 at ArtInsights

Blade Runner by John Alvin.  Everyone knows what that poster looks like….John Alvin is known for a number of images, although sometimes not by name.  The prolific and genius movie poster artist called it “the promise of a great experience”, when he created the key art for over 200 movies.  If you remember, when recalling a movie, the poster instead of a scene from the film, that’s a great movie poster. John Alvin did that many many times. The Lion King, E.T., Young Frankenstein, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Blazing Saddles, and of course, Blade Runner, are just a few of the posters he created.

Blade Runner 2049 is releasing to overwhelmingly great reviews.  Seeing it and writing about the film for Cinema Siren,  I couldn’t help but think John would have loved the new movie as much as he did the one in 1982.  He talked about it a lot to me during our friendship.  One thing that the new movie has done is yet again reinvigorated interest and appreciation for the classic sci-fi film and its poster.

So, we have a few images created by John Alvin that those of you who love traditionally illustrated movie posters and the great movie from 1982 can buy and have for yourself.  There are two limited editions, and in several versions.  Neither is signed by John Alvin, but they are both gorgeous, and capture the cyber punk aesthetic and emotional power of the film.

We also have one of the “I’ve Seen Things “ that was sent to John for approval before they created the edition. He had intended to keep it and frame it for his own studio, and so he signed it.  It’s the only signed piece from the edition, and is oversized.  It might be best purchased by someone within driving distance, although, for what will be fairly expensive endeavor, we can ship the framed piece anywhere.  The size of it is 40 x 53 inches. We also have one original graphite from 1982 used in the making of the finished poster.  If you’re interested in that, give us a call.  It’s pricey, but a piece of film history.  Several collectors recognized the importance of John Alvin’s work as part of film history when his key art for E.T. went at auction for $400,000.  There are movie lovers all over the world, after all!

The edition called “No Choice, Pal” has been created with the estate of John Alvin, and has a number of versions.  Delivery takes about 4 to 6 weeks, although will get faster as we continue on our path to doing more publishing for both John’s work and the work of our other artist partners.   

Here’s the info on “No Choice, Pal”:

Giclee on paper: edition size 1982, 6 APs, 6 PPs. size 14 x 19, image size 10 x 15. Retail $125.

Giclee on canvas: edition size 263 with 6 APs, 6 PPs. size is 19 x 23.75, Image Size: 15″ x 19.75 Retail $495.

NEW SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON ART 2017 RELEASES SEEN and APPROVED!

Marvel Shadows Set Alex Ross

Oh San Diego Comic-Con, how we love you and love/hate you.  Two gazillion folks wandering the aisles at once.  We should all be making Mooing sounds.  And yet, there’s no better place to have an art release, especially by fan favorite Alex Ross.  We had seen the images, but had to see them in person to report back to anyone “on the fence” or wanting to hear our opinion of how dramatically they presented in person.

As always, at SDCC 2017, we are double-focused. We get to see all the new releases, especially by Alex. We also scour the con for new artists or artists we want to work with more.  We found a few potential future partners, so we’ll see how that develops, and will update you as we do.

Meanwhile, we made a direct march to the Alex Ross booth first thing on Wednesday night, accompanied by clients who wanted to see them with us. Sure enough, there were some gorgeous pieces released, like the Universal Monsters pieces, the Marvel shadows pieces. Did what we love sell the best? Were we spot-on with our prediction of  which would be the hottest and best received?

In a word, YES!  Surprising me not at all, the Universal Monsters series was the most popular. I knew the images would be a big hit, even though they aren’t comic-book derived.  There’s something about seeing Alex Ross’s art in shades of grey, without his usual color palette, that really shows how well he uses shadow and light. You can see the influence great illustrators have had on him, like J.C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell, who were both geniuses with light.

There were only 15 sets of the series put aside as sets, and they of course sold out.  We have several we have bought for our clients, so contact ASAP if you’re interested, or love all things monsters.  The Dracula and the Creature from the Black Lagoon are our favorites in terms of images, but everyone loves the Bride of Frankenstein!

We sold as many Marvel shadows series sets as we could get our hands on, and are still trying to see if anyone who had right of first refusal says no, so do let us know if you’re interested in them as well! We have the images individually if there’s a superhero you love more than the rest.  We’ve had hundreds more hits on Iron Man, although we love Thor the best. They are $825 each unframed and rolled.

OMG BATMAN DETECTIVE #31 AND SCARS

Detective Comics 31 full image

Tucked into the interior of the booth was one of my two favorite new releases, the Detective #31 piece, inspired by an old comic book most of you fans will know inside and out.  I was driven to read the old classic from seeing Alex’s new interpretation of the cover.  I knew it would be gorgeous in person, and I brought several of my clients in to see it, and actually sold 3 more for the booth while I showed the piece to my own clients!  My favorite colors, red and purple, are featured.  What’s not to love? 

(see below for the original and one of the first homages of Detective Comics #31) 

Detective Comics 31 - Batman 227

The other piece I knew would be a huge hit is Scars, but as intense as the subject matter is, it’s still impressive as art.   I see the symbolism and metaphor of outside scars vs. inside scars, as well as the power of Alex using black and white, but it was for Batman Black and White, a BIG DEAL book they did at DC that Batman fans always list as one of their favorites.

There are other releases, but those are the ones that struck us the most, and those are the ones that made the fans and collectors crazy in the best possible way.

Balancing our Cinema Siren / Women Rocking Hollywood panels with our work for ArtInsights is always a challenge at San Diego Comic-Con.  Those of you who know us here, know our passion for changing the status quo for women in film, both in live action and animation.  It is a natural extension of working with the art of film and Leslie being a film critic.  We were thrilled, then, to be able to succeed in our panels (videos coming soon!!) and see some great new art that we can wholeheartedly approve and get behind.

We are always working on our next great new partnership, and we’ll let you know when we get there—we take things slowly now so we know we are in something supremely cool and future-bound!

For now, bask in the awesomeness of Alex Ross 🙂

Happy Anniversary Harry Potter! This Harry Potter art gallerist and fan looks back

Making a Great Exit

Happy Anniversary Harry Potter!

I can’t believe it’s been 20 years.  These are the books that spawned a thousand ‘ships’ and fanfics, not to mention creating one of the richest women in the world, the highest paid actress, blockbuster movies, Wizard Rock, many conversations about acceptance and tolerance, kids that read voraciously for the first time, a crazy powerful fandom,  conventions that broke records and brought friends together, positive actions in the form of charities like the HP Alliance, and of course, art.

At the very beginning of the series, when it hadn’t even gotten to the states yet, my friend Ruth had interest in the series, and she paid attention to when Scholastic released them in the US, going after the license to release the art here, with all the art created by illustrator Mary GrandPre. She told me years later no one believed it would sell.  I was the first person to promote them when she announced the collection.  They were beautiful, created by a female illustrator, and celebrated reading! How could I not be excited?

Harry Potter: Counting the Days

I started to work with her as much as possible, and when new pieces were released, I was the person who promoted them the most.  This led to getting some exclusive pieces for the gallery, and to being part of a number of Harry Potter fan panels at San Diego Comic-Con, where I met some wonderful friends I am close to and respect to this day.

Here is me on the panel with Darrin Criss, before he got hugely famous, but not before he had become the Harry Potter version of one of the Beatles. Seriously, there were shrieks from his fans during and after the panel, and someone proposed to him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaAXLumvEUM

One of the weirdest things about being part of the Harry Potter world and selling the art, is I became a strange sort of minor celebrity in the fandom….not like the StarKids or MuggleNet or the Wizard rockers, but still, people knew who I was. After the above panel, two teenage girls came up and asked me for my autograph.  What?? I showed them where the line was to meet Darrin….but they said I was the reason they were going to study art, because they wanted to be part of creating the official art and in my various talks I’d explained about the value and importance of illustration art. It’s the one and only time it happened, but it was very sweet. It also made me feel good about what I do for a living.  I was particularly pleased when the collection of art by Mary GrandPre wound up in a Buzzfeed post and it got viewed, well, lots and lots and lots. It was posted on June 26th, as well, only in 2013!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/16-rare-harry-potter-illustrations-from-the-books-artist?utm_term=.etR3DqnwpM#.tsXqP15Bd2

When Leavesden was opening and they were going to have an exhibit of art and a shop with items for sale, Ruth was able to talk them into releasing art signed by Oscar-winning production designer Stuart Craig, that showed his ideas for various locations in the movies, with the fully rendered images created by architectural and movie concept artist Andrew Williamson.  Again, they didn’t think they’d sell, and again, they proved hugely popular.  Here is one of my favorites:

Journey on the Hogwarts Express

I also, in the time that HP got more and more famous, became closer friends with artist Jim Salvati, who had actually worked on the films as a concept artist, and so I got some art from him he had done for the movie.  That was incredibly exciting, and those who love the movies can really appreciate how the intensity and passion as an artist fits with the themes of the movie.  Here’s a limited edition with Harry and Hedwig:

Harry and Hedwig by Jim Salvati

Every day I encounter some reference to HP, or think of one.  This morning on my walk, I was going to once again avoid the walking tunnel that goes under a big road because it looks creepy, dangerous, and frankly, it reminds me of Death Eaters.  Today, though, I ran through it in honor of the anniversary (crazy, but what can I say?) and as I checked my fitbit, the number was 7,777. 

I had to laugh.

Thanks, Jo.  You’ve inspired millions of kids to read, write, draw, find acceptance, and aspire to more.  We’ll keep reading the books, watching the movies, writing the fanfic, and creating art, and when we do, we’ll think of you, and of Harry, the boy who lived.

L.

ps. If you want to see all the official art of Harry Potter available for purchase, go HERE.

Art Outsiders Wine Dinner at Mon Ami Gabi in Reston and Bethesda- Join Us!

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Join us at Mon Ami Gabi Reston on Tuesday, June 6, and Wednesday, June 7, at Mon Ami Gabi Bethesda, for an evening of delicious french fare, thought-provoking art and great conversation, featuring artist Tennessee Loveless and ArtInsights gallery owner Leslie Combemale.

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Mon Ami Gabi Bethesda Interior

The renowned contemporary artist and contemporary art expert are partnering with the restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You, hosting the Art Outsiders Wine Dinner in both locations. Tennessee and Leslie will present Loveless’s famed project “The Art Outsiders,” discussing the creative process behind the development of the project.

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The Art Outsiders is a collection of portraits of people who were outsiders in their own fields for work. From science, music, art, writing, fashion and beyond, their stories are uniquely embedded into the design of each portrait, allowing each work of art to display a narrative of history, courage and perseverance.

Evening includes a welcome reception with passed hors d’oeuvres starting at 6:30 pm, followed by a five-course dinner paired with boutique wines. Click here to see the full menu. The event is priced at $75 per guest (plus tax, gratuity not included). Advanced tickets required; please call Mon Ami Gabi at 703-707-0233 to book your reservation for Reston, and 301-654-1234 to book your reservation for Bethesda.

 

MAGBethesdaExterior

Mon Ami Gabi Reston exterior

Here’s the menu, but by all means click to see more information!

The menu, although you can look at it more closely with the link!

About Mon Ami Gabi:

Mon Ami Gabi is a classic French bistro that embraces a passion for food, wine and culture. Whether you come for the Onion Soup Au Gratin, Steak Frites or decadent Profiteroles, Mon Ami Gabi offers something to satisfy all tastes. For those looking to indulge in a unique dish, the Escargots de Bourgogne with garlic-herb butter is literally a sizzling experience. To complement the menu, an extensive selection of more than 80 boutique French wine varietals, handpicked by renowned chef and owner Gabino Sotelino, are served by the glass or bottle from our signature rolling wine cart. While the favorites are here in abundance, there’s always something new when you’re ready to fall in love all over again.

About Lettuce Entertain You:

Since its beginning in 1971, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc. (LEYE) has maintained a sense of humor and enjoyment while creating high quality, successful restaurants. Due to the innovation of LEYE’s Founder and Chairman, Richard Melman, and his creative team of partners and employees, LEYE currently owns, licenses or manages more than 100 establishments in Illinois, Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada, California, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia.

Musings on Beauty and the Beast, then and now, from an animation and film art expert

beauty-beast-cinema-siren-artinsights

Sometimes my persona as Cinema Siren and my metier as an art gallery owner and expert in animation come together in a delightful way.  Not often, mind you, but yes, from time to time.  This week I got to see the new Beauty and the Beast in advance and reviewed it for my readers (you can find it here), and I daresay there are few people outside of Disney who have seen the 1991 animated feature as often as I have, so it was fairly easy to compare the two films, the songs, the characters, and the live-action verses the animated backgrounds and scenery.

beauty-and-the-beast-ballroom

Though excited and openminded about what Disney might do to bring new life to a recent classic, I was also concerned that Belle would remain the strong, positive, inspiring role model Linda Woolverton created her to be.  In fact, I needn’t have worried. As portrayed by Emma Watson and written by the new screenwriters, (both of whom were men) Belle is not only a loyal friend and daughter, she is also an inventor, avid reader, and would-be fearless adventurer.

As someone who loves the animated film and its heroine to be near perfection for the era and technology of the time, of course seeing the new movie brought back all the warm feelings I have for the older one.  That includes the memories I have of talking to John Alvin about his part in creating the adult campaign, which wound up being the only campaign.  That iconic poster of Belle and the Beast dancing is forever etched in my mind, as only the best cinematic images always are.  Disney hired John to create an image for the movie poster that would appeal to adults because he was already known for iconic, emotional images like the one he had created for E.T.  John excelled at the use of light, smoke, and shadow to build a magical, mystical quality.  It’s the Beauty and the Beast poster that gave birth to the expression “Alvin-izing, which captured a feeling, a visual romance, that, as John himself used to call it “created the promise of a great experience”.  In talking about the making of the poster image, he talked about using “heavy light”, the light Stephen Spielberg used in E.T. and Close Encounters. That was the look he was trying to emulate in the Beauty and the Beast art. It was only the second time John Alvin had worked with Disney, and the poster was such a success, it led to a long and fulfilling partnership with Disney feature animation.

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I also remember when Disney had the auction at Sotheby’s where they sold original backgrounds from the film. You see, Beauty and the Beast had no cels.  It was just after they had switched away from using them, in favor of scanning the original 2D drawings and coloring them inside the computer. Still, the movie was such a hit, people wanted whatever original art they could get from it, so it was standing room only, and even famous collectors filled the auction house, eager to get a piece of what even then they knew was animation history.  Since then, if you ask members of the Disney archives and research library, they’ll tell you it was a mistake to let backgrounds vital to the history of the film go to collectors.  At the time, it was very controversial in the world of animation that they were going to create cels for the original backgrounds from the movie. Some collectors wouldn’t touch them.  The original estimate, during all the fuss about created cels, was $670,000.  The results of the auction were actually double that, bringing in $1,255,815.

Check out these two articles from the time:

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/17/movies/animation-auction-is-questioned.html

http://articles.latimes.com/1992-10-19/entertainment/ca-469_1_top-expectations

Also, the ballroom scene was an example of the steps towards computer animation, and the entire scene was a mix of both hand-drawn and computer animated elements. One of the best things about the new film is the fact that the ballroom sequence could be brought to real life. The design team, which I highlight in my review as being all female-led, spearheaded the utilization of 7 x 4 foot chandeliers inspired by those in Versailles.

Beauty and the Beast

As to some of the concern by fans that artists involved with the original would feel like they were slighted by a live action film that was so heavily inspired by their work, I say, ‘rest easy’…I know a bunch of them, including one of the producers who also produced the new live action update.  They feel honored, appreciated, and edified to know their project not only stands the test of time, but so inspired a new group of artists that they painstakingly researched their work in the development of this new iteration.

If you’d like to see several originals used in the process of John Alvin creating the iconic movie poster for 1991’s Beauty and the Beast, stop by ArtInsights.  See the new movie first, so we can talk about it, and celebrate the wonderful history of this classic story, a tale, as they say, as old as time.

Wonder Woman original production art in honor of the Women’s March on Washington

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In honor of the Women’s March in Washington on inauguration weekend, we are offering some rare Wonder Woman original production art from Justice League. They are drawings, as they didn’t use cels in the animation, and we don’t have a bunch, but the 8 we have are all wonderful, kick-ass, and represent the character well!  CHECK THEM OUT HERE.  We will only have them this weekend, so now is the time!

Many of you know we have a large contingent of collectors and art and animation fans meeting up at the gallery and going in to march on Saturday.  That’s not to say we don’t love our ‘Right-minded’ collectors, but we all have to walk our walk as WELL as talk our talk, and that is particularly true to those of us in art and small business.

Those of us who are marching, and those supporting those who will be there certainly need inspiration and motivation, and this demigoddess is the Amazonian to give it!  A percentage of all sales this weekend will benefit Planned Parenthood.  CELEBRATE POWER and THE WONDER OF WOMANHOOD this weekend!

Also, all the art available for purchase is benefitting women-owned small businesses: both in the retail and wholesale!  We are working with the lovely and hard-working Ruth Clampett of Clampett Studio, and her cohort Michelle Smart, who handles production art for them.  I, Leslie Combemale, CRAZY FEMINIST ART LOVER, co-own ArtInsights (as you know)…Plus you will also be supporting low cost healthcare for women around the country.  So what are you waiting for? Lasso yourself a great new piece of art 🙂

Cerphe’s Up Book Signing with Cerphe and Rock and Roll Art at ArtInsights!

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We are so excited to host famed long-time DJ and radio broadcaster Cerphe Colwell of Music Planet Radio at ArtInsights! He’ll be signing copies of his book Cerphe’s Up, about his 45 years as a rock and roll insider in and around the DC area.

In preparation of his coming to the gallery, we put together some great originals and limited editions from our collection to display, including great pieces of David Bowie, Kate Bush, Ringo Starr, and the Beatles, by artists Tennessee Loveless, Jim Salvati, and Alex Ross.

If you are a music fan you should definitely come meet Cerphe 2-4 pm on January 28th, when he will be at ArtInsights in Reston Town Center…(on a day when parking is free;)  

His stories are legendary, as is his kind, mellow demeanor.  Cerphe’s Up features great interviews with Tom Waits, Stevie Nicks, George Harrison, The Rolling Stones, and more.  Currently playing great tunes at the successful internet radio station Music Planet Radio, he has worked for WAVA, DC101, and WJFK, and is the one who brought an unknown Bruce Springsteen to the attention of DC music lovers. He has the awards to prove it!  It’s also co-authored by Stephen Moore, who has co-authored three other successful books about awesome famous people, including Washington treasure Helen H

Cerphe’s Up has nothing but 5 star reviews, and it has become a bestseller. You can buy it at our event and have him sign it to you directly, or signed to the favorite rock and roll historian, musician, or music fan in your family and friends. JUST IN TIME FOR VALENTINE’S DAY!

cerphe's up book cerphe colwell

We’ll also have the art of romance, as we do right around Valentine’s Day.  It might be early for those guys out there who forget until the day of and wander home with flowers you buy from 7/11, but that just means you will be prepared.  We have The Little Mermaid’s Eric and Ariel, Belle and the Beast, Mickey and Minnie, lots of the other cartoon couples you might enjoy. 

Bittersweet-Embrace-beauty-and-the-beast-art-john-alvin-movie-art-artinsights

Obviously Cerphe’s Up will make a wonderful Valentine’s gift for music-minded loved ones….and speaking of ROCK AND ROLL, so will the awesome art we have on display by Tennessee Loveless of David Bowie, who so loved the world he became the man who fell to earth…;)

Art Outsiders: David Bowie

We hope to see you Saturday the 28th, barring several feet of snow.  We’ll have a blast, and you will have a special opportunity to meet a local legend, surrounded by wonderful art!

Leslie at ArtInsights

An Alex Ross Art Adventure at NYCC

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ArtInsights is back and our collective feet are back to normal after a crazy four days at New York Comic-Con officially partnering with the Art of Alex Ross.  I’m sure you friends and collectors are curious how it went, aren’t you?   (well, some of you actually said you were 🙂 )

We and the folks at Alex Ross Art brought and shipped lots and lots of art, including, for the first time, original paintings and drawings offered by anyone outside Alex’s agents.  For us this was a big deal!  We had some gorgeous Spider-Man art, and some truly lovely drawings we were very excited about.  We also had the exclusive signed lithographs that featured three great images of Cap, Batman, and Doctor Strange.

Wednesday was the day we had for setting up the booth, which was ordered custom from a convention company so that it wasn’t just grid walls, which I think don’t speak to the class and quality of the art being displayed. The head honcho (HH) at Alex Ross Art suggested white carpet, (WHITE CARPET?!) which he said would make the space look bigger…which, in fact, it did! We just needed to be armed with lots of spot cleaner.  Lots of it. A vice president at Alex Ross Art (VP) who was always close by in case longtime collectors of originals stopped by or we had questions, had suggested we really needed a big banner above the space.  This is the one and only time i’ll complain about how much more expensive New York is than San Diego: Just putting up the banner costs way over a thousand dollars.  I think it took two guys about 20 minutes to put it up, and 20 minutes to take it down.  I support unions and always have, but we’re small business over here.  Work with us, people!!  Regardless of that, VP was 100% correct in needing the sign, because it was a beacon. You could see it from all over the floor, and even better, both he and HH said we needed spotlights.  I thought they meant for the art.  NO!  FOR THE BANNER!  We were right next to Midtown Comics, and they had a banner without a spotlight on it.  What a difference.  It pretty much glowed 🙂

What took the longest on Wednesday was Michael (MB) methodically putting security hangers on the valuable art, and the art being displayed on the outside walls of our booth.  Those pieces were brilliantly placed, because you could see them from across the hall.  One side had all Beatles, and the other side had four pieces from the Shadows collection, which has a gorgeous Wonder Woman.  The security hangers worked.  Halfway through the con someone tried to steal her, which I could tell by the certain way the wall was shaking.  I calmly peeked around and saw a guy trying to wrestle her off the wall.  Wonder Woman was having none of it.  HURRAY FOR SECURITY HANGERS!  After hanging and dressing the booth, we left late Wednesday night and went out to a local Italian restaurant around the corner from our hotel.

We thought Thursday was going to be the slow day, since it hadn’t sold out in single tickets until the last few days before the con.  We were SO WRONG.  It was nuts.  In retrospect that makes sense, because lots of people with 4 day passes came to our booth first to stake their claim on the art they wanted.  We almost completely sold out of the Batman signed edition, and about half of the limited editions we had brought, which were all highly sought-after #1s in the editions.  It took us most of the day to get more organized, and one of my friends who came to help us, who was an organization savant (OS), somehow made the space look great and run like a well oiled machine by the second day.  Another friend, who is the ultimate Southern gentleman (SG), was out greeting fans and handing out brochures about Alex’s work.  By the second day, everyone knew every piece and could speak fluently about his career and which pieces were best for which collectors.

I had to learn the hard way that people from around New York expect to negotiate (I don’t negotiate, generally) so after only a few people tried to get discounts, I steeled myself for some people to walk away in a huff, which only one person did.

We had several friends helping us, and gratefully we were staying within walking distance.  To anyone who will ever work the NYCC in the future, i’d say this is essential.  There were so many people in our booth and so much action, we actually got “Con-brain”, which is a phenomenon I believe could be researched that is the result of a brain too stimulated to continue functioning properly.  Normally this only happens from walking around a convention floor with the mass of people in cosplay whilst being assaulted and surrounded by thousands of sounds and sights.  I guess if enough people come into your booth, after 5 or 6 hours, “Con-brain” may have to be factored into how you operate.

For example, you have to make sure you don’t put your phone or wallet down while shopping for food or ordering dinner somewhere.   

We mostly just went back to our hotel and hung out together and I made dinner for our crew and we ate together at the hotel.  The last thing any of us wanted to do was be around people are walk on our very confused and swollen feet!  I brought a bunch of great wine and we had some fun before going to bed early every night.  This meant visiting a great little neighborhood store I liked to call “the grocery labyrinth” that was like walking through the maze in The Shining.

Right here is where i’ll say the Alex Ross fans are the best.  That’s saying something, since I am involved with art from a variety of fandoms.  Star Wars, Harry Potter, and as many fandoms as there are movies from the Disney studios, and then some, including character specific fandoms for Mickey Mouse, Scooby-Doo, and Bugs Bunny. It is a bit of apples and oranges, because in the case of Alex Ross, the fans are responding to an artist instead of a property.  Having fans get excited about an production artist working in popular culture was like catnip! I overheard a number of people as they brought friends and family to the booth to introduce them to their favorite artist, or the artist that inspired them to draw, or the artist of their favorite comic book.  I’ve been told so many times to read Kingdom Come and Crisis on Infinite Earths I actually had to promise to do so!

For those of you curious, the people who come to NYCC have much better hygiene.  Every day the attendees smelled fresh and delightful.

We had a bunch of expressions that took a life of their own through the weekend.  Two of my favorites were:

“Jack! I’ll love you forever!” = a guy we met who bought some art with his equally awesome mom went and stood in line for what must have been at least half an hour just to get me a Diet Coke.

“I am not Alex Ross.” = Michael, who was processing the purchases, was mistaken for Alex Ross all weekend.  They look nothing alike, but Alex so rarely goes to conventions, they just assumed it was him.  We think we should get t-shirts made saying “I’m not Alex Ross” printed on them.

“Alex is a traditional illustrator in a digital world.” = this was the answer as to why Alex doesn’t do conventions anymore.  It’s actually true, in that he still has to make deadlines creating hand-drawn art.  For the most part, he can’t click corrections…So he spends most of his waking hours every day painting. Surprisingly, people actually understood!

All in all, we did really well and were very pleased with our success.  We got back to the Washington area at 4 am, dropped off all the original art at the gallery, and got to bed after having dinner at a time when most people were getting up for work.

We still have some original art and limited editions at the gallery, for those of you who want to visit.  We pulled some exclusives so that our own longtime clients would have a chance to buy something, and we also were lucky enough to be given a collection of cover art and graphite concepts we are allowed to sell.  Huzzah!

Stay tuned for what we might do next with both the art of Alex Ross and other artists and art we find exciting. Thanks again for all those who supported us at the con, our new collectors, and especially OS and SG, who came with us and helped.  You all did the near impossible, you made working NYCC fun!

Leslie for ArtInsights.

John Alvin’s E.T. Phones in the Worth of Traditional Illustration Art

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Heritage Auctions just sold the original key art by John Alvin from E.T. for $394,000 after the buyer’s premium.  The bidding was brisk and committed, and started way above the lowest required bid.  Though the buyer wanted to remain anonymous, there’s no question a number of collectors were willing to go into the hundreds of thousands to obtain this original art from the recent sci-fi classic. Speaking as not only Cinema Siren, but also the owner of ArtInsights, the gallery that represents the estate of illustrator and movie poster artist John Alvin, the news of the hammer price came less as a surprise than a reaffirmation of the value of both traditionally illustrated film art and of the work of the renowned artist. 

Unfortunately, the artist’s estate was not the owner of the art at time of auction, as is often the case with original film art, especially key art.  With the insane timeline of deadlines, and the teams working to promote films ever turning towards the next project, even when the art remained the property of the artist, often the original art created during the campaign was never returned to them.  This was rarely intentional. Sometimes the director or producer asked for it, and sometimes someone in the design firm just put it in a flat file and forgot about it, because the focus by everyone involved had turned to the next film.  Little did everyone know traditionally illustrated film art was, even in the early 80’s, a dying art form. 

That’s not to say Andrea Alvin, John Alvin’s widow and artistic partner in Alvin and Associates, wasn’t thrilled to see such public confirmation of the value of her husband’s work. To her it reaffirmed the increased embrace of his legacy as one of the foremost artists in the history of film.  With the over 200 campaigns he worked on during his lifetime, John Alvin was one of the most prolific film artists, certainly, and not only recognizable, but so famed for his movie magic, the term “Alvin-izing” was coined by studio executives in referencing his style.  

There are many around the world who have been collecting the art of John Alvin or supporting his legacy as a fine artist through their mentions of his work on their movie blogs, or as in the case of Kevin Burke’s new documentary “24 x 36”, through film.  They know, unequivocally that those willing to pay nearly $400k represent far more than just fans of E.T.  Those collectors were vying for the art of John Alvin as much as for the iconic image he created.  That, after all, was what he was known for.  The posters he made were splashed across every platform.  His images were used throughout the world. 

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Whether, for example, you saw The Lion King in Pasadena or Paris, the poster depicting a majestic lion in the sky was probably partly responsible for getting you into the theater.  That light-suffused and very emotionally evocative painting that was Alvin’s trademark was used for The Lion King poster, as well as the E.T., Aladdin, Cocoon, Empire of the Sun, Willow, and many more.  

The $400,000 hammer price for the art of E.T is not only a celebration of the love of movies, but also a celebration of the acceptance of John Alvin as a preeminent film artist and indeed as a fine artist. It suggests that original film art, which is an art form largely relegated to history, is indeed fine art.  It also shows, in a strange yet really real way,  his work continues to have relevance.  The estate recognized that phenomenon through the discovery of graphites John used in the making of two of the Pokemon movies. Who knew between that and every article on Blade Runner II using his famous poster for the original film, images attributed to John would continue to be used so frequently? 

We who represent the estate of John Alvin are very excited about our plans for the future.  We are busy with plans for museum shows, and with continuing to help people around the world acquire those pieces his family members are willing to sell to fine art collectors and film fans.  Fortunately for Andrea Alvin, she does have a few pieces of key art that will be kept in the family and handed down to future generations. John’s art for movie campaigns capture the essence of who he was, and even casual observers can see he put his heart into every image.  Every piece was personal.  The E.T. image is a perfect example; his daughter Farah’s hand was the model for that of Elliott’s as he reaches to touch E.T., Sistine Chapel-style, in the poster. 

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If you want to know more about John Alvin, of course there’s the great book released in 2014 written by his wife Andrea Alvin, which you can get here:

https://www.amazon.com/Art-John-Alvin-Andrea/dp/0857689290

and you can see the art available for sale through his estate HERE, as well as a series of chats with John Alvin.  

https://www.artinsights.com/artists/alvin-john/

The Art of the Beatles: All You Need is Love..and a Yellow Submarine-3 Day Show with Beatles animator Ron Campbell!

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THE ART OF THE BEATLES: ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE FEATURES RON CAMPBELL, BEATLES YELLOW SUBMARINE ANIMATOR & BEATLES SATURDAY MORNING TV CARTOON SERIES DIRECTOR TO APPEAR LIVE, PAINTING, EXHIBITING & TALKING CARTOONS AT ARTINSIGHTS ANIMATION & FILM GALLERY
Friday, September 23 2016 – 12:00 PM to Sunday, September 25 2016 – 04:00 PM
Location: ArtInsights
11921 Freedom Drive (Reston Town Center)
 Reston, VA 20190
THE LEGENDARY ANIMATOR/DIRECTOR WILL BE EXHIBITING HIS BEATLES CARTOON ART AS WELL AS PAINTING NEW WORKS DURING HIS APPEARANCE.
Campbell will also be exhibiting artwork featuring other beloved cartoon characters that encompass his 50-year career in Children’s Television such as Scooby Doo, the Smurfs, Rugrats, Winnie the Pooh, Flintstones, Jetsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & more.
 ALL WORKS ARE AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE.

In 1964 the Beatles invaded the United States, performing for 73 million people on the Ed Sullivan Show and dominating the US pop charts for years. Now over five decades later, the Fab Four continue to be the most celebrated musical group in Rock history. And Beatlemania is alive and well….just this month, the Beatles released a live CD of their Hollywood Bowl concerts and director Ron Howard premiered a documentary on the Fab Four’s touring years!

Ron Campbell, director of the 1960’s Saturday Morning Beatles Cartoon series and animator of the Beatles film Yellow Submarine will make a rare personal appearance at ArtInsights, 11921 Freedom Drive in the Reston Town Center in Reston, VA, Friday, September 23rd through Sunday, September 25th. Ron will showcase his original Beatles cartoon paintings created specially for the show and create new Beatles pop art paintings at the exhibit. The exhibit is free and all works are available for purchase.
Who: Ron Campbell, Director of the Beatles 1960’s Saturday Morning Cartoon series and animator of film Yellow Submarine. Also involved in Scooby Doo, Rugrats, Smurfs, Winnie the Pooh, Flintstones, Jetson’s, George of the Jungle, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many others.

What: Ron Campbell will be offering for sale original cartoon paintings of the Beatles both in their ABC Cartoon and Yellow Submarine roles as well as various other works from his 50 year career in animation including Scooby Doo, Smurfs, Rugrats and more.

Where: ArtInsights Animation & Film Gallery, 11921 Freedom Drive in the Reston Town Center, Reston, VA 20190 (703) 478-0778. www.artinsights.com

When: Only three days, Friday, September 23rd – 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm 
Saturday, September 24th – 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm
 Sunday, September 25th – 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Details: Ron Campbell, director of the legendary

Saturday morning Beatles Cartoon series that aired on ABC from September 25, 1965 through April 20, 1969 and animator on the Beatles film Yellow Submarine will make a rare personal appearance at ArtInsights, 11921 Freedom Drive in the Reston Town Center, Reston VA for 3 days only.
The Saturday Morning Beatles Cartoon series received monstrous ratings in its time slot….a 67 share! The cartoon series debuted on ABC on September 25th 1965….exactly 51 years ago this weekend! It continually fueled new music to the young kids of America as they followed the bouncing drumstick to each Beatles tune. Campbell also wrote the forward to the definitive book on the Beatles cartoon series “Beatletoons.”

Yellow Submarine, recently celebrating its 47th anniversary, has become a permanent fixture in pop culture, defining the psychedelic 60s for generations to come. In his book, Up Periscope, Yellow Submarine Producer Al Brodax gives Ron Campbell a great deal of credit for saving the movie and tying it all together at the last minute.

Campbell has also been involved with some of the most beloved cartoons including, Scooby Doo, Winnie The Pooh, Krazy Kat, George of the Jungle, The Jetsons, The Flintstones, the Smurfs, Goof Troop, Rugrats, Ed, Edd & Eddy and dozens more. Campbell’s former studio was awarded a Peabody and an Emmy for his work in children’s television. Since retiring after a 50 year career, he has been painting subjects always based on the animated cartoons he has helped bring to the screen. With particular emphasis on The Beatles, he shows his Cartoon Pop Art in galleries worldwide.

About ArtInsights: Open and representing a wide range of film, animation, and contemporary art at their gallery in Reston Town Center since 1994, ArtInsights focuses on proprietary projects and artist representation relating to the history of animation and film, and the celebration and examination of popular culture. With artists like John Alvin, Alex Ross, Jim Salvati, and Tennessee Loveless, the gallery builds collections of original and limited edition art for their growing worldwide collector base. They were among the first galleries to welcome the art of Ron Campbell over a decade ago, and look forward to bringing his entire collection to fans across the region! See their work and read their blog on www.artinsights.com and www.artoutsiders.net 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Release is Happening! Celebrate with the art of Harry Potter

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We are so excited about the release of the book for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! We know so many fans of the books and subsequently of the art of Harry Potter, and they’ve been ticking the days off like Harry Potter himself until the release of this new story.  It’s been amazing more spoilers haven’t leaked online, and you can find them if you look, but we hope you’ll celebrate with us by looking back on the great series both in books and onscreen through the artists that contributed so beautifully to them! CLICK HERE to see all the official Harry Potter art available through ArtInsights.

We have a great selection of art representing these artists including Mary Grandpre, movie concept artist Jim Salvati, and production designer Stuart Craig, spanning the original story of Harry Potter, Hermione, Ron, and the whole gang!

Come by soon and let’s talk about the book–but no spoilers! Sometimes other folks wandering around the gallery haven’t gotten around to it 😉

 

Michelle St Laurent appearing July 2nd at ArtInsights for “Delighting in Disney Detail” show, on display through August 8th

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We at artinsights are incredibly pleased to once again welcome Michelle St Laurent to the Gallery on July 2nd, to present some beautiful new original interpretive Disney art, and her latest limited editions for the exhibit on display through August 8th. Her inspired art has only become more popular and beautiful since the last time she visited us in 2014, and we’re so excited to present these new images to our clients and friends. 

Join us  Saturday, July 2nd, 2:00pm to 6:00pm

You can meet Michelle, and see some of her new exquisite pieces. She will be personalizing all purchases at the show!

The exhibit of her work will be on display through August 8th, so those two can’t make it this weekend can come through August and enjoy her visual warmth, and her sweet, perfectly rendered style, which has made her they go-to artist for collectors of interpretive Disney scenes.

Check out her work HERE.

spotlight on jim lee

Batman v Superman – The Official Art of DC: The Art of Jim Lee

THE ART OF JIM LEE

In deciding to have a Batman v Superman art show with the official art of DC, several things were at play.  As Cinema Siren, the film critic, I am inundated with press info and notes and EPK (electronic press kit) about the upcoming movie, which is being released late March (as many fans know!), but I also have a pretty longstanding history with Zack Snyder, because I interviewed him years ago, went for a nature walk with him, and talked Joseph Campbell, womanpower, and the love of classic movies with him.  This was way before he got tapped to do any superhero movies, and I can tell you, whatever you opinion of him as a director, as a guy, he’s pretty down to earth and quite fabulous.  So while I have to watch the movie with an unjaundiced and unbiased eye, I can promote the theory of all things Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all I want, because like they say about parties and crying, it’s my gallery and i’ll pimp DC if I want to!

It’s been a while since Warner Brothers gave over the rights to selling their DC images to my friend Ruth. She used to work for them directly, helped start up and run the Warner Brothers stores, and then for all the galleries around the world became the one and only source for the official art of DC.

What I’ve always loved about Ruth and Clampett Studio Collections is Ruth has always felt strongly about keeping the artists representing DC, along with any other WB properties she represents, as artists who actually have a hand in the making of the shows and movies. As such, the art of Jim Lee was essential to the collection.

Jim Lee is a Korean American comic book artist, writer, editor, and publisher. He started out his adult career plans with begrudgingly working towards becoming a medical doctor at Princeton, as his family wished, but he had always loved comics. His high school classmates even predicted in his senior yearbook he would found his own comic book company.

During college he took an art class and started reading comics again, and that got him excited enough he committed himself to one year’s try at being a professional comic book artist. When Archie Goodwin of Marvel invited him to work for them, he embarked on a career that led to multiple awards, building an enthusiastic and loyal fanbase, starting his own comic imprint, and ultimately becoming the co-publisher of DC. He is in the Guinness World Records for creating the best-selling comic book of all time.

In my research for writing about Jim Lee, I discovered he has had nine children with his wife Carla. How on Goddess’s green earth does he have any time to do anything? I have to say one of the most impressive things about Jim, given the many balls he has in the air at any given moment, is that when fans are talking to him, they really feel he’s listening and paying attention to them. He’s always been one of the best artists to meet at any con for that reason and because he seems to embody the joy of being an artist in every inch of his being. He is also an inspiration to anyone who wants to be a successful artist, because as an artist he worked his way up to being at the top of one of the biggest comic book companies in the world.

There are some very choice limited editions available signed by Jim Lee in our show. I would never have an exhibit and sale of DC art without his work.

Here are some of my favorites:Batman Over San Prospero

BATMAN OVER SAN PROSPERO:
This piece was inspired by the Modena landscape in Italy, a country that is dear to Jim’s heart. He spends time there every year. This image was featured in “Jim Lee Millennium Edition,” a compilation of images from Jim Lee’s career.

 

FOR TOMORROW: 

For Tomorrow

This image was used for a cover to the Superman Adventures series. I love Superman. I think you’re either a lover or a hater. I just found out recently that Superman didn’t start out flying. It was only later that they wrote in that he could, even though now it’s one of his most recognizable powers.

There was a great interview with the writer of a book called “Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero” and I learned lots about the character that someone who doesn’t read every comic would find fascinating. I also didn’t know he was originally “The Man of Tomorrow”…so I guess this art comes by its title honestly!

Also, the really great editor at DC who has lots to do with what happens to and with Superman, Mike Carlin, recommends SUPERMAN LIVES, an audio CD. BUY IT THIS SECOND! (and you can buy some of our art as well, but yes. Superman on CD? OH YESSS!)

KISSING THE NIGHT:

Kissing the Knight

This is a great piece to me because when I met and hung out with Jim, he drew me a great little Catwoman, where she is holding a Batman toy and saying MEOW. I thought this piece was super hot, and love the color of it, and the composition. I also love that it’s on t-shirts and mugs and such, and yet it’s actually possible to have a limited edition of it signed by Jim Lee, and they never add any numbers to a sold-out edition, so the fact that it’s $425 and there are only 250 of them is a bit mind boggling to an art gallery geek like me. The image appeared first in the Batman comic “In the Mouth of Madness.”

TRINITY:

Trinity

Last but not least of my favorites, this giclee on canvas has only 100 pieces, and it’s so badass of all the art by Jim Lee i’d want this one. For better or worse, my eyes go immediately to Wonder Woman and stay there. I love that she looks without question that she can hold her own with the other two heroes, although I haven’t read the Trinity series…This piece was the cornerstone of our show, because it so captures the anticipation of the Batman v Superman feature film coming soon to theaters.

While I prefer Wonder Woman from the World War II era, I’ll make an exception for Jim’s work. For more information and the history of Wonder Woman CLICK HERE.

We hope to see you at ArtInsights you soon so we can geek out together about these superheroes, or so you can correct one or all of us about something they did, said, or wore 😉

Leslie
ArtInsights

Journey to Hogwarts by Jim Salvati

“SORCERERS IN SNOW: HOGWARTS IN WINTER” Harry Potter Exhibit will donate a portion of sales in honor of Alan Rickman

Thank You Alan Rickman

ArtInsights Gallery presents “SORCERERS IN SNOW: HOGWARTS IN WINTER” New Exhibit of Original and Limited Edition Harry Potter Art. In Honor of Actor Alan Rickman, a Portion of Proceeds will Benefit Charities

 

Reston, VA – ArtInsights Animation and Film Art Gallery celebrates the art of Harry Potter with a collection of original and limited edition art by artists who worked on the book and film series. 10% of sales will benefit two charities; Lumos, which was started by JK Rowling, and strives to end institutionalization of children worldwide, and Saving Faces, a foundation focused on cancer treatment. This is in honor of Harry Potter actor Alan Rickman, who passed away on January 14, and was a patron of the charity. The show runs from January 18 through February 29 at ArtInsights, 11921 Freedom Drive, Reston, Virginia 20190, in Reston Town Center. 

 “We are happy to have art by Mary GrandPré, illustrator of the Harry Potter book series, who reminds us of the magic of our childhood while reading the novels for the first time.” says ArtInsights co-owner Leslie Combemale. The gallery will have limited edition book art by Mary GrandPré, original production art by Harry Potter concept artist Jim Salvati, official art by Stuart Craig, the production designer for the entire film series, and other pieces created by artists who worked on the books or movies. “Alan Rickman added immeasurably to the Harry Potter franchise, and we wanted to honor his legacy as an actor by supporting a charity that was dear to him,” says Combemale. “We planned this before his passing, because his birthday is February 21, and we will still be celebrating that, but sadly must consider it a tribute as well.” Rickman played Professor Severus Snape in all the films, but was also a multi-award winning actor on both stage and screen.

 

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. With more than 30 years’ experience, the owners work with their worldwide collector base to build and insure the integrity of their collections. They sell only official art created by artists working on the films they represent, with rare images used in production as well as original commissions which are often used to create official limited editions.  ArtInsights 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, in a display of images from the best classic movies and animated features of the last 100 years as well as newer classics like Star Wars and Harry Potter. See and learn more on the website www.artinsights.com and on the web magazine www.artinsightsmagazine.com, 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, and other recognized outlets dedicated to film worldwide.

 

ABOUT LUMOS

Founded by JK Rowling in 2005, Lumos works in partnership with governments, professionals and carers, communities, families and children, to transform outdated systems that drive families apart.  Lumos believes that as institutionalization denies children individual love and care, it can damage their brain development, and destroy their understanding of right and wrong.  Together with their partners they replace institutions with community based services that provide children with access to health, education and social care tailored to their individual needs. Lumos has a single, simple goal: to end the institutionalization of children worldwide by 2050.  You can find out more about the charity at: http://www.wearelumos.org/

 

ABOUT SAVING FACES

Saving Faces is a registered research charity based at the historic St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in West Smithfield, London. The charity is carrying out groundbreaking work in areas such as the role of selective neck dissection in early oral cancer treatment, the psychological factors in head and neck and gastrointestinal cancer, the prevention of smoking and binge drinking amongst teenagers and the development of rapid detection tools for oral cancer. At Saving Faces they keep their administrative costs to a minimum. Unlike the majority of charities, their Chief Executive is unpaid, so donors can feel secure in the knowledge that their money goes towards important medical research and the support of patients. For more information, go to: http://www.savingfaces.co.uk/

 

 

The Mickey Mouse Club Turns 60: Collecting The Mickey Mouse Club cels

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Happy Birthday! The Mickey Mouse Club turns 60! The series began on October 3rd, 1955!

My own personal experience with the Mickey Mouse Club is with the cels from this series.

As someone who has sold cels from The Mickey Mouse Club since 1988, I’ve had to learn over time about the animated cartoons, characters, and costumes used on the show.  Production cels from The Mickey Mouse Club have their own unusual look to them.  The thick ink lines make cels from the show pretty easy to recognize:  (click on the image if you’re interested in buying the art!)

 

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Also, most of the cels were sold originally through the Art Corner, a store in Disneyland where they sold original Disney art from 1955 to 1966. This means the cels were cut down to a smaller size, matted, and came with a seal on the back.  A very recognizable seal!

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Many of the cels from The Mickey Mouse Club and indeed most that were sold through the Art Corner are stuck to their backgrounds.  It’s inherent to the era.  If you find a cel that isn’t, it’s probably been completely repainted.

One of my favorite stories from my long history selling animation art is that a friend of mine who is a chemist and also a collector discovered a way to remove the cels from their backgrounds without ripping all the paint off the back.  When he told me he’d actually done it, I felt like he’d made a major discovery.  That’s how Disney geeky I am!  So now when we have cels from that time period lots of them are NOT stuck to the backgrounds because we get them all from this one awesome guy.

My personal history with The Mickey Mouse Club is probably in some ways similar to many, at least those from other parts of the world.  I saw it was coming on (in reruns, of course) in Paris on TV and I begged my parents to let me watch it.

They warned me “It isn’t what you think .. It isn’t mostly cartoons..”

I didn’t care.  And actually there were plenty of animated moments, certainly enough for an 8 year old.  What I didn’t know, because they didn’t play them that way, was that each day of the week was specific to a particular subject.  I learned that later, as an animation gallery owner!

I love, though, that collectors who remember or have a love for The Mickey Mouse Club can get cels of Jiminy Cricket (that also have a thick ink line) and a bunch of other beloved Disney characters for much less than if they had bought them from the original features from which they originate.

Mickey Mouse production cels, original and limited edition art are going to have a resurgence, and soon.  Why? There’s a new Mickey Mouse show, which began in 2013, and to date it’s seen in 160 countries, translated into 34 languages.  The show is making Mickey cool again.  Still, purists will always look back to the early cartoons of the late 1920s, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and The Mickey Mouse Club.

Here’s a popular Mickey Mouse Club limited edition by Tim Rogerson (which you can click on if interested in buying!):

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On this 60th anniversary of their premiere, we owe thanks to a show that made Mickey Mouse himself, his pals, and the live action kids so relatable to children all over the world.

For all the Mickey Mouse art ArtInsights has available, go HERE, and of course for commissions or requests for particular images, contact the gallery!

 

Disney lobby cards: Collecting movie and cartoon history

Ichabod and the Headless Horseman lobby card at ArtInsights
Ichabod and the Headless Horseman lobby card at ArtInsights

When I started selling animation art in 1988, there were only five galleries specializing in original cartoon art IN THE WORLD.  That’s right.  It’s hard for some to imagine when no one knew what a cel was, and when the thought that cartoon art was “kid stuff” was pervasive.  Things have really changed.  Most people know what about animation art, and many see it as a legitimate art form, but along with that the prices for animation art have risen to the point where finding unrestored reasonably priced original art is not that easy to do!

Recently a client/collector friend of mine showed me a collection of Disney lobby cards he had just gotten his hands on.  Most were from the original release dates.  These were smaller images released by the studio used to promote the film in theater lobbies across the country. It occurred to me that my collectors and people I knew who love Disney would be excited about the prospect of having these, what essentially amount to pieces of memorabilia and art mixed together.

Lady and the Tramp original lobby card from 1955 in the gallery
Lady and the Tramp original lobby card from 1955 in the gallery

It isn’t as if lobby cards can’t be counterfeit.  Of course they can be.  The trick is to find someone who knows where they’ve been since removed from the displays at the theater! How wonderful, though, to imagine them a part of the thrill of release in 1946 of Song of the South, or 1950 of Cinderella, or any number of other Disney classics!

Song of the South animated section lobby card at ArtInsights
Song of the South animated section lobby card at ArtInsights

I do love two of the images we got most, and those are the lobby cards created for England.  They are smaller, and they come from a slightly later time (a few years after the initial releases) but check out these British Snow White and Fantasia lobby cards, I especially appreciate that they are based on concept work from the films:

A British Sorcerer's Apprentice lobby card in the gallery
A British Sorcerer’s Apprentice lobby card in the gallery

A British Snow White lobby card in the gallery
A British Snow White lobby card in the gallery

In my own house, I have production art, and movie posters.  Lobby cards are the perfect way to add something small (they are all 11 x 14) and substantial to represent other favorites, or enhance the images in the production cels nearby.  That’s what I did with mine.  Personally I always want my lobby cards to be from the original release, and almost all the ones we have in the gallery are.  You can tell what year they were released by checking the number in the bottom right hand corner, making sure the first number corresponds with the year the movie was released..(like 55 for the Lady and the Tramp lobby cards, and 49 for the Ichabod and Mr. Toad lobby cards, for example)

The title lobby card from Ichabod and Mr. Toad in the gallery
The title lobby card from Ichabod and Mr. Toad in the gallery

Check out all the lobby cards (and the two collections) on our Disney vintage gallery page:

https://www.artinsights.com/production/vintage-disney/