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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