A few weeks back when I posted my interview with D23, I mentioned two artists that inspire me. The first was Mary Blair, the second was Glen Keane. If for some reason you are unfamiliar with his work, you certainly know his characters.This is the man responsible for Ariel, Pocahontas, Beast, Tarzan and so many others. “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” came out when I was in high school . I already knew I was headed off to CalArts to study animation upon graduating, with the hopes of working for Disney. Those two films triumphantly marked the return of Disney animation and it’s second golden age. Glen Keane, in my mind, seemed to have a special roll in that. No one draws the way Glen does. He is a master of his craft. Once familiar with his work you can easily spot the scenes he worked on. It’s easy, it’s all in the eyes. He not only did beautiful artwork, he brought these characters to life. He made us believe they are real. I still find it funny that in all my years woking in Disney animation, I was always too intimidated to talk to him. In fact I would often see him coming down the hall and I would turn the other way, like somehow I was not worthy. This was of course all in head, because he could not be more thoughtful, genuine or giving of his time and knowledge. I wouldn’t know this first hand until a project came up at the Disney Stores where I had the chance to meet and work with him. Taken from my D23 interview , I had this to say about that experience. “I had the pleasure of working on the Disney Toddler “Animator” collection, which was all the Princesses, so automatically, I’m on board with that! And we worked on them with Glen Keane and Mark Henn [two legendary Disney animators], and I got to help translate their vision—[working] with the sculptor to make sure the “sculpts” looked like their drawings. I was in the same room as these people. Glen Keane is my absolute hero, and I never had the pleasure of working with him at Feature Animation. Plus, he just made me so nervous—this is my idol! He’s one of the reasons I do what I do. So when that project came to a close, he wanted to see the [Disney Store] building, he said, “I want to meet some of these people, and see what happens over here.” Because he really enjoyed the project as well. And he came and sat at my desk, like, literally, sat at my desk… for an hour! And just chatted, and talked about art and animation. And he was wondering why we had never worked together [at Feature Animation] and started telling me how beautiful he thought my drawings were—and how the work I was doing was inspiring. And he did a drawing of Ariel for me, and wrote on it, “Your work is inspiring. Ariel continues to live through you. Keep going!” And it literally made me want to cry. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. And to have a mutual respect. I was no longer just someone approaching him like a fan. But he got to sit and check out what I was doing so it was more like talking to a peer. [He was] really passing on some wisdom [to me] and it was unbelievable!”.Glen left the Walt Disney Company after 38 years in March of 2012. Luckily we all have the amazing work he has done to cherish. I can’t wait to see what he does in the future.”If you’re going to make a mistake, don’t make it in the eyes. Because everybody’s looking at the eyes.” -glen keane
So I went to the First 10+ Art Show during the Downtown LA Art Walk to check out some neat pieces by various Disney artists. I didn’t realize that Glen Keane was going to have a TON of artwork on display. AND! He was actually there! I kinda froze when I saw him because I was just so thrilled to see my absolute favorite animator in person!
My roommate, Sofia, encouraged me to go say hello. After a lot of internal panicking, and realizing I’d forever regret it if I don’t, I worked up the courage to approach him. He was chatting with a few other people and taking pictures with them. I was happy to see that he really liked talking to everyone that came up to him.
Of course, while I was waiting, I started freaking out about what I would even talk to him about. How do I start a conversation with one of my artistic heroes? Would he think I was a weirdo? I’m not an animation student. Is it weird to approach him if I’m not? Would he sign my moleskin sketch book? Is that weird? Ah geez… Ah geez… Run away! Run away!
But I didn’t. When my turn came up, I shook Glen’s hand and said hello. He commented on my shirt, “Chat Noir de la Lune” and told him it was a Sailor Moon parody. I started to fumble with my words which turned to a big “I’ve been a fan forever. Ariel and Rapunzel are my favorite. It’s so awesome to meet you. Etc Etc.” And as I was saying these things, to my embarrassment, I started to cry from excitement.
Glen was awesome! He asked when I first saw The Little Mermaid (around 6yrs old). I told him I remembered being very scared of Triton because he destroyed Ariel’s collection. I was so giddy! I just love his characters cause they are always so bright and adventurous and optimistic. He said if he was a young girl he thinks would have been really rebellious. He also said I looked like Ariel (Nope. No I don’t. But I appreciated the complement!)
I asked for a autograph, and then an even more amazing thing happened. Glen Keane drew Ariel in my moleskin sketch book! Eeeeeee! He started drawing her with his pen, but he didn’t like it, so he used my pen instead. He then asked if I’m an artist, and I told him I was a cartoonist, and I’ve had a webcomic for 8 yrs. He said he’d like to do a comic maybe. That you don’t really get to see ALL his drawings with animation. 24 are gone in a second. I told him he’d be great at it, and he should do it! He asked where he could see my stuff, and I gave him my card. So maybe he’ll check it out!! (I don’t have my hopes up, but the idea is really nice!)
Then we hugged and took a picture together. Glen Keane, great artist, amazing person.
BEST DAY EVER.
Glen Keane’s girls, aren’t they just lovely?
Let’s appreciate the perfection of Glen’s girls.
My favourite artist. EVER.
Alan Maken/Glen Keane collabs
Ariel (Part of Your World), Aladdin (One Jump Ahead, A Whole New World), Pocahontas (Colors of the Wind, Just Around the Riverbend), Rapunzel (When Will My Life Begin, I See the Light), Beast (Something There).
“…The fuck is this.”
Pocahontas (1995) - Pocahontas hair study - Glen Keane
i think a lot of people (not all, not all) who love animation, love glen keane because he is probably the most famous of all disney animators. so they’ve heard of him, but not greats like fred moore, ollie johnston, andreas deja, eric larson, james baxter etc. and that is why they love his work. however, i love glen keane because he simply is my favourite animator. i adore his style, the way he works, the incredibly effortless gestural style. it’s the style that comes from being trained as an artist, and then going on to animation, i think. i could never, ever compete with his fantastic skill, but i do see a strong similarity in our styles and the way we work. essay over.
images from: http://theartofglenkeane.blogspot.com/