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Harald Siepermann (1962-2013)

Uli Meyer writes this morning with sad news:

My old friend Harald Siepermann has passed away this morning. He was suffering from cancer. Harald was one of the foremost character designers, an incredible artist and wonderful human being.

Siepermann was 50 years old. Born in Bochum, Germany, he studied art and illustration at the Folkwang School in Essen, where one of his teachers was Hans Bacher. Siepermann began his career working for ad agencies in Düsseldorf, London, and Zürich.

In the mid-1980s, Siepermann became the character designer for Alfred J. Kwak, a character that originally appeared in a Dutch theater show created by entertainer Herman van Veen. The resulting comics and TV series, which he worked on closely with his former teacher Bacher, have appeared in dozens of countries.

Following the series, Siepermann began working in animation regularly. His first feature film credit was story sketch on Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It was his character designs for which he was most sought after, and he contributed visual development to numerous Disney features including Mulan, Tarzan, The Emperor’s New Groove, Brother Bear, Treasure Planet, and Enchanted, as well as to films from other studios such as Jester Till, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, and Space Chimps. Visit his BLOG and FLICKR to see a selection of his character design work.

Siepermann, who frequently lectured about character design at animation schools throughout Europe, was also a regular attendee of the Annecy animation festival. While I can’t admit to being close friends with him, I got to know Harald as a festival friend over the past decade, and I shared many pleasant conversations with him at picnics, cafes and parties at Annecy. My memories of him are always as an affable and easygoing artist who was deeply committed to his art. I’m sorry I won’t get any more chances to see him at the festival.

For German speakers, here is the first part of a TV interview with Harald:

  • R.I.P.

  • Baron Lego

    This really, really sucks- the guy was so incredibly talented.

  • Joe Haidar

    This is such tragic news. I met Harald 24 years ago while working on Roger Rabbit. We’ve run into each other over the years on a number of projects. I was always impressed by how little he had changed as a person. He was always humble and kind; unaffected by his rising star in the industry. I’ll miss him.

  • Agustin

    An amazing talent has gone, but his characters will keep him alive for ever, damn those are really beautiful drawgins

  • Natalie Belton

    What a Loss! This man was a true inspiration for me. Its to bad that none of the recent artwork I have seen for Frozen matches up to the designs Harald proposed.

  • Sandra Khoo

    Lebe wohl Harald ……………….

  • Greg Manwaring

    Like the others here who knew Harald and have commented on his incredible talent and personality, I can also attest to their sentiments. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to give a seminar together (he discussing Character Design and I discussing Character Animation), as well as having him design characters for 3 of my own projects, and one outside project that he designed and I inked and painted. Harald also had very good story sensibilities and I always hoped to have him on my team one day. He was currently Directing a film called “The 7th Dwarf”, based on a successful series of German live action comedies. I had the honor of working with Harald on this project, and watched him mold the story as well as the Character Designs for the film. I know that the production will sorely miss his guidance. I also knew Harald as a family man, and watched him interact with his lovely wife Belicta and wonderful daughter and son. You could see the love and pride he had in his family!! I think it can be said that Harald’s greatest design work was the children he produced together with Belicta! I’m certainly going to miss Harald – as will all of his friends – we were all fortunate to enjoy and experience his magical gift that he bestowed on us through his work, on the many famous films he helped create!! Rest in Peace my friend.

  • Caricaturist Sugumarje

    Sad News, just heard this morning! :(

  • Semih

    This is really sad news. I had the pleasure to have him as a teacher in Character Design in Mainz at the university of applied sciences. R.I.P. I learned so much from him. :( A great artist with his work always keeping him alive among us. He was just too young to be taken from us.

  • Michael Schlingman

    I first met Harald in London in 1990. Though only 2 years younger than him, I was a child, he was an accomplished graphic artist and designer and I was drooling over his sketchbooks.
    We would meet up every time Harald came over to England and popped into Uli’s studio.
    It’s a terrible thought that it won’t happen again.
    We lost a lovely guy…

    My heartfelt sympathies to Belicta and the kids…

  • Kyle_Maloney

    Whenever I see these reports about so and so passing away I usually glance over their work being highlighted and move on. I think “oh, there goes another one I’ve never heard of”. No disrespect meant of course, I just haven’t heard of the majority of artists CB reports on. So I almost assumed this was another one of those til I looked at some of his pieces, knew they looked familiar and thought “wait, that isn’t who I think it is is it? That’s not the same Harald?”

    I frequented Harold’s blog not knowing much about his background other than the many impressive blog posts he’s posted over the years. I was wondering why he hadn’t updated since 2011. I had no idea he was ill. Sad to see him go.

  • jorge verdugo

    I love his designs overall the designs on alfred kwak and tarzan

  • Oh my God, no.

  • Nik

    Marvelously talented artist. He shall be missed. RIP.

  • Michel Van

    This is sad day for Animation
    he made so wonderful and incredible work.

    His drama was in Germany, he could not work properly. Like his comic work on “Mecki” was cancels by publisher “Horzu” but he got a chance of a lifetime: Alfred Joducus Kwak.

    He not only gave him a face, he put life in the character as well! That opened the road for Hollywood.

    At Disney, here his talent was respected, but sadly his work was not acknowledged in Germany, where he worked also as teacher for Animation.

    His death is only mention german wikipedia and ignored by german media.

    His last work was for German Animation movie
    “7 Zwerge – Der 7bte Zwerg” who comes January 2014.

  • Eddie White

    A really tragic loss of a young artist. I met him only once on a bus ride at Annecy but he was such a kind and warm man. His amazing body of work will live on.

  • Lui Jauregui

    I’m seriously shocked to read this. I watched my first Ren&Stimpy cartoons with Harald in 1994 and we were equally grossed out and laughing at the same time. I still can’t believe it. Leb wohl, Harald.

  • Being over 50 I am reminded that I have one resource this very talented person did not have… more time. I should make a point to use it well.

  • Perry Osuna

    To Harald’s family sorry for your lost. He was and extremely talented individual, I was and still am inspired by his work. He will be missed.

  • So sorry to hear this. I met Harald only once or twice while working with in Germany in the 90’s. He was a really fantastic talent. My sympathies to his family.

  • Matt Jones

    RIP Harald. Shocking news-I had fun hanging out with him & Uli at the Ronald Searle 90th birthday retrospective exhibition in Hanover, 2010

  • may he rest in peace

  • Benjamin Weiler

    I cannot believe he died. I went to one of his character design workshops and he left quite an impression on me. He was one of those artists who manage to strike a balance between knowledge and instinct. He could explain to you, what he did, but needed no contemplation of it while doing it. Pretty amazing experience, all the more because he was a really kind and dedicated person. Watching him work made you want to do great work too, simply because when he did it, it seemed so easily attainable.
    I am very sorry to hear he has passed on so far before his time and hope he did not suffer in the end. I was hoping to meet him again some day.