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!”
ArtInsights is celebrating Women’s History Month with a signing of the book Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney Animation and a lecture from the author, leading historian on women in animation and film, Mindy Johnson. Accompanying the event, which is from 2 to 5pm, will be the premiere of a collection of vintage animation, as well as illustration art by famed Disney concept artist Lorelay Bove, who has contributed images for Johnson’s upcoming release Pencils, Pens, & Brushes: A Great Girls’ Guide to Disney Animation. Scrawl Books (our indie bookstore neighbor in Reston Town Center) will be partnering with ArtInsights for book sales, and refreshments will be served. Entrance is free, but RSVPs have first priority. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ArtInsights at 703-478-0778 to secure your spot!
About Ink & Paint:
From the earliest origins of animated imagery, the colorful link between paper and screen was created by legions of female artists working on the slick surface of celluloid sheets. With calligraphic precision and Rembrandt-esque mastery, these women painstakingly brought pencil drawings to vibrant, dimensional life. Yet perhaps as a reflection of the transparent canvas they created on, the contributions and history of these animation artists have remained virtually invisible and largely undocumented, until now.
Walt Disney’s pioneering efforts in animation transformed novelty cartoons into visual masterpieces, establishing many “firsts” for women within the entertainment industry along the way. Focusing on talent, Disney sought female story specialists and concept artists to expand the scope and sensibility of his storytelling. Upon establishing the first animation-training program for women, ink pens were traded for pencils as ladies made their way into the male-laden halls of animation. World War II further opened roles traditionally held by men, and women quickly progressed into virtually every discipline within animation production. Disney’s later development of the Xerox process and eventual digital evolution once again placed women at the forefront of technological advancements applied to animated storytelling.
About Pencils, Pens, & Brushes:
Based on Mindy’s critically acclaimed Disney Editions title, Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, this nonfiction picture book is a fun and inspiring look at many of the amazing women who have worked at Disney Animation over the years—from Story Artists, to Animators to Inkers and Painters, all with unique personalities and accomplishments, such as becoming a record-holding pilot, or designing Hollywood Monsters, or creating an international club for tall people!
This timeless treasure features the whimsical and inspiring illustrations of noted Disney artist Lorelay Bové, whose visual development and design artistry defined such animated classics as The Princess and the Frog, Prep & Landing, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia.
About Mindy Johnson:
In her latest landmark book, Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, author Mindy Johnson pulls back the celluloid curtain on the nearly vanished world of ink pens, paintbrushes, pigments, and tea. From the earliest black-and-white Alice Comedies to the advent of CAPS and digital animation, meet the pioneering women who brought hand-rendered animated stories to vibrant, multicolored life at Walt Disney Studios and beyond. Extensively researched with the full support of the entire Walt Disney Studios archival resources, plus a multitude of private collections, firsthand accounts, newly discovered materials, and production documentation, as well as never-before-seen photography and artwork, this essential volume redefines the collective history of animation.
Award-winning author, historian, filmmaker, educator, musician and more, Mindy Johnson’s creative accomplishments reflect the diversity of her talents and experience.
A leading expert on women’s roles in animation and film history, Mindy frequently writes and speaks on early cinema, animation, women’s history, and creativity. Her ongoing research and groundbreaking discoveries continue to cast light on the invisible narrative of women’s presence within the first century of the motion picture industry.
Mindy has produced record-breaking global campaigns, creative content, exhibitions and events for a growing list of clients including: The Walt Disney Company, AMPAS/Oscars.org, WNET/American Masters, The Walt Disney Family Museum, Bing Crosby Enterprises, SiriusXM Radio and Horipro Entertainment.
In addition to her film expertise, literary efforts and consulting, Mindy is also an award-winning playwright, songwriter, composer, and contributing artist on several internationally acclaimed recordings and published compositions. Mindy teaches cinema history, aesthetics and intercultural film within the Los Angeles area, including a first-of-its-kind course on the history of women in animation, based on her ground-breaking book, at CalArts – California Institute of the Arts. See more about her on her website by clicking here.
About Lorelay Bove:
Born in Barcelona, Spain, raised in the principality of Andorra and part of a family full of gifted artists (her father is renowned painter Quim Bove) art has always been a way of life for Lorelay. Educated at the prestigious California Institute for the Arts, a school founded by Walt Disney to foster young creative talent, this exciting young artist has made an impact on the art and animation world almost immediately upon her arrival.
After making her entry into the business as an art intern at Pixar Animation Studios, she quickly transitioned into her current role as a Visual Development Artist at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
As a visual development artist for Disney, her conceptual artwork has been extremely influential in the visual direction of films such as ThePrincess and the Frog, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, and Wreck-it Ralph. Lorelay is also known for providing the illustrations for the Little Golden Book The Princess and the Frog title, as well as Toy Story:Ride ’em Cowboy! Her work is also featured on the cover of The Art of Wreck-it Ralph.
Her work is often compared to the work of Disney Legend Mary Blair, although Lorelay confesses that she did not become aware of Ms. Blair’s work until her college years. Her own visual signature and style had already been well established for many years at that point, however, she finds the comparison flattering. “It’s quite a compliment!” she says.