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BooksDisney

Here’s A Book About The Hundreds Of Women Artists Who Helped Create The Disney Classics

The Walt Disney Company will rectify a significant oversight in its corporate history when it releases a new book this fall: Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation.

Written by Tinker Bell: An Evolution author Mindy Johnson, the book will tell (for the first time ever) the full story of Disney’s ink-and-paint department and the significant role that these women played in the production of the studio’s classic films.

The publisher description is below, followed by our first look at page spreads from the interior, which suggest that the book will provided a deeply researched look into the topic:

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 Rembrandtesque 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, Walt sought out female story specialists and concept artist 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.

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, pencils 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.

A spread from the upcoming "Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation."
A spread from the upcoming “Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation.”
A spread from the upcoming "Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation."
A spread from the upcoming “Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation.”
A spread from the upcoming "Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation."
A spread from the upcoming “Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation.”
A spread from the upcoming "Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation."
A spread from the upcoming “Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation.”
A spread from the upcoming "Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation."
A spread from the upcoming “Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation.”

The work of studio ink-and-paint department has generally been understood and critiqued as an anonymous whole (chalk that up the male-dominated field of animation historians), but rarely have we been given insight into how the contributions of individual artists and technicians shaped the work of those departments. Like the rest of the Disney studio, the artistry of Disney’s ink-and-paint department was at a standard that was above and beyond the rest of the industry, and I eagerly await the opportunity to learn more about how they achieved those artistic heights.

The 384-page book will be available from Disney Editions on September 5. Retail price is $60, but it can currently be pre-ordered on Amazon for $37.42.

  • random_person

    This is a powerful story for women artists. To know that a path has been made before you can strengthen your spine. It is also a great gift to the families of these women. Good job Mindy Johnson.

    It will soon be time to give respect to the cleanup artists who followed up on the work of the rough animation from animators. The crews were an balanced environment of women working with men as equals based on skill.

  • Thalesourus

    Speaking of women artists, when is Disney going to give a woman director a shot? I mean someone besides Brenda Chapman?

    • Matthew

      Perhaps you’ve heard of Jennifer Lee, director of FROZEN.

      For live-action films, though, they had women directors as early as the 1984 TV movie GONE ARE THE DAYES, directed by Gabrielle Beaumont.

  • Tony

    This book is long overdue. Ink and paint artists have never gotten much coverage, even though it’s their work that ultimately ends up on the screen. Perhaps because the work was thought of as being less challenging artistically, just tracing and painting by numbers. But there was a lot more to it than that, especially at Disney during the Golden Age.

    • Matthew

      And considering they don’t do ink and paint anymore, how many women lost their jobs when they eliminated that step?