in the immortal words of that learned scholar, Curly Howard, "Truth is stranger than fiction, Judgy-wudgy!"
yes, i kid you not. the organization that is currently The Disney Company once thought artists were the bees-knees. sure, Walt took official credit for the films and other creative product that the studio churned out, but i honestly believe the oft quoted theory that he did it out of marketing strategy rather than ego. in fact, Walt was one of the first studio producers to lavish some screen credit to his artistic staff on film...in main titles none-the-less.
there are many who complain he didn't do enough. honestly, sit down and zip it. i'd GLADLY take a man-sized can of Walt abuse any day to the types of neglect and underappreciation that goes on in the film biz today.
Walt knew that the public was connected to art. whether they be rednecks fresh off the farm or sophisticates atop some lofty, urbane high-horse, Disney wanted them all to know his films were special because they celebrated art. commercial, yes. middle of the road, absolutely!
Walt Disney was about accessibility. in the animation art world, there are so many that knock Disney because of that. those people will never be happy and search out fault in practically anything. yeah, i love Clampett too...so what? should i hate Walt because of it?
screw you! I LOVE WALT and his middle of the road trajectory!
all i know is, Walt Disney took the theory of accessibility, caressed it to earn the public trust, and lead them on paths they never would have taken on their own. i could go down the list of huge risks such as the concept of feature cartoons, Fantasia, early-QUALITY television, but that's another story...
to me, Disneyland was the ultimate experimental art theory of all time! a three dimensional film that would be totally emmersive. literally, theater in the round!
most of all, it was designed by ARTISTS. not by committee. not by focus groups. and most certainly, not hijacked by people who had no business making creative decisions. Walt had good, sound IDEAS and built a team of artists whom he TRUSTED to run with those sound ideas. many times, these people weren't aware themselves of what they could do. Walt knew.
hey! let's look at this drawing by Herb Ryman. here's a guy who dabbled in animation, fine art and live action studio art direction. yet, he wasn't an environmental theme park designer...at least not back in 1953. Walt knew what he was capable of. This Tomorrowland concept rendering is done just like a cartoon layout. in fact, it's even done on punched animation pan paper. this is from 1953.
now, here's an image from Tomorrowland 1956. it's the opposite side of the street but it shows the close, filmic blocking that came directly from a Disney studio artist, as he imagined it. all this without 300 meetings to figure out if they should do it..."does the accountant like it?"..."why are we are giving this big creative choice to a lowly artist?"
Walt was not an artist in the classical sense. however, he was a creative thinker and a fantastic artistic facilitator. he was the ultimate studio general who was well aware of his creative arsenal and absolutely knew what it was capable of.
not only that, he was well aware that letting those great, hand picked artists do their thing would make money for his company and make his own creative dreams come true.
going back the the first pic in this post...Walt really didn't need to have a special "Disney Artist Exhibit" at Disneyland. its sorta redundant. DISNEYLAND was THE DISNEY ARTIST EXHIBIT itself!!!!
to the Walt Disney Company and the rest of the studios in town: harbor your artists...trust them that they know what they are doing. give creative responsibility to them and try not to second guess it too much. it worked well for Walt. it can for you too!