As an animation addict you’ve probably heard of Lorelay Bove, Mingjue Helen Chen, Claire Keane, Lisa Keene, Brittney Lee and Victoria Ying before. All these ladies have worked professionally as visual development artists at the Walt Disney Animation Studios over the last decade where they worked on bringing films such as Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen and the upcoming Big Hero 6 to life. Outside the work these ladies do professionally, they also do a lot of personal work. Last year they started a project on Kickstarter to support the release of their own book featuring personal art called Lovely: Ladies of Animation. Lovely: Ladies of Animation bundles personal art of these ladies for the first time together in one book and, like the name suggests, the book truly is lovely.
Foreword and Introduction
The book starts off with a foreword by Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter. In his foreword, John talks about Disney’s most beloved visual development artist to date Mary Blair. He talks about how she energized the animation field 60 years ago with her unique art style and sense of appeal. He continues to talk about how these ladies are just like Mary Blair energizing their field with their unique styles and senses of appeal. John’s foreword is followed up by an introduction by legendary Disney animator Glen Keane (and father of Claire Keane). Glen talks less about woman in animation in general like John did but rather about the ladies in this book and about what to expect from this book.
To me the introduction and foreword didn’t add anything to the book. It was fun to read what John and Glen had to say about women in animation but to be honest, the only reason why I cared was because it was written by John and Glen. I would’ve preferred to read something about the ladies this book is about. Where did they grow up? What inspired them to become artists? Which artists do they look up to? Or read something about the journey of creating this book. Even though John and Glen’s pieces were fun to read it felt like a waste of four pages that could have been used in a better way.
After the introduction and foreword we dive right into the first artist of the book in the first chapter. Every one of these six ladies has her own chapter consisting of 20 pages each in which she showcases some of her personal art and tells a little bit about what inspires her into doing personal art, what themes she likes to explore and which art mediums she likes to use. The thing I enjoyed about this book is that there is no real theme, which gave the artists the freedom the decide whatever pieces and art mediums they wanted to showcase. Every page in every chapter is different. It was great to see all the diversity in art styles, themes and art mediums compared to the stuff you might find in art books for Disney and it was also great to read about what inspires them into doing personal art outside work.
Even though all the art in this book is stunning, I felt like there wasn’t enough to read in the individual chapters. Some chapters had more writing than others and overall it really disappointed me. The only written parts in the book were about what inspires these ladies into doing personal art, which was fun to read but it just wasn’t enough. I’m a big fan of all these ladies so I already knew a lot about them, but I think it would’ve been nice to have something about their art progress and journey for the uninitiated There was enough unused space in the chapters that easily could have been used to add some extra paragraphs of information. As such, it was dissapointing that they didn’t do anything extra with that.
Like I said before Lovely: Ladies of Animation truly is a lovely book. The book features art of some of the most talented artists that work in the animation industry today and it’s a delight to just browse through the book and look at all the art. The art is beautiful, fun and inspiring and for that alone I think this book is worth purchasing. Sadly enough the creators of the book missed a great opportunity by not having more information to read, despite the fact that there was plenty of space that could have been used to add more writing. Although there isn’t much to read I think the book is worth purchasing for the art alone and as a fan of these ladies, art or animation you won’t be disappointed.
Lovely: Ladies of Animation: Amazon
Also check out the individual art blogs of these ladies!
Mingjue Helen Chen