T. Hee Christmas Card T. Hee Christmas Card
ClassicIllustration

The Beautifully Designed Christmas Card Art of Animation Legend T. Hee

T. Hee (1911-1988), the multi-talented designer, director, and story artist who worked during the Golden Age of Animation on films like Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Gerald McBoing Boing, had a number of side careers in commercial art, one of them being a greeting card designer.

Starting in the early-1950s (and continuing into the 1960s), Hee had a contract to produce an album of 30 Christmas Card designs annually for California Artists Inc., a greeting card maker that also employed the talents of other animation industry artists, including Art Riley, Mary Blair, Claude Coats, Tyrus Wong, Ralph Hulett, Dick Kelsey, Eyvind Earle, and John Hench. (Has anyone ever documented the company or its output?)

Hee was recognized in the industry for his impeccable sense of design, which was often expressed through the caricatures he made of his studio colleagues:

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Like his caricature work, Hee’s holiday cards exhibit a similarly refined sense of design, combined with a flair for witty graphic thinking that riffs on a standard holiday vocabulary revolving around Santa, reindeer, and the words “greetings.” What is perhaps most impressive about Hee’s greeting cards is his discipline as a designer and his ability to boil ideas down to their most elemental. For Hee, a few shapes, colors, and lines is all it takes to communicate an idea and evoke a smile from the viewer.

Enjoy this collection of T. Hee’s Christmas cards and happy holidays to all of our readers!

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  • Tony

    So gorgeous and clever. Love that old ’50s aesthetic.

  • Daniel

    These are amazing.

  • Janne Korsumäki

    Oh my these are so wonderful. I’ve been a fan of T. Hee’s work ever since I stumbled upon Illusion Of Life in the 90’s and saw his caricatures. His full spectrum of talent is indeed visible here. You can clearly see his influences of the time but also one thing is clear: he wasn’t influenced by just the design in animation and it’s stylistic clichés (good thing he didn’t have internet). He had a solid foundation of graphic design, typography, architecture and fine arts at play here.

  • Matt Jones

    Such a joy to see these! It appears that he used cut out shapes to achieve those bold, flat color designs before the age of digital illustration. There should definitely be a book collection.

  • Santosh OOmmen

    These are amazing! Thanks for sharing!