Aloha my wonderful merfolk!
We all know by this point, that 2016 was a horrendous year for deaths of celebrities. One however, that passed away just as the year was ending, was Tyrus Wong. Wong was an artist on the film Bambi and so, with this week being Bambi week, I thought it apt and respectful to have a look at the late artists work and discuss his life with the Walt Disney company.
Tyrus Wong was a Chinese born American artist. His skills included painter, muralist, lithographer, designer and kite maker. He was born as Wong Gen Yeo on October 25th 1910 in Taishan, Guangdong, China. When he was just 9 years old, he emigrated to the United States with his father, leaving behind his mother and sister. He would never see them again. Once through immigration, he began his American life in Sacremento, before being relocated to Los Angeles.
Whilst at High School, his teachers noticed that he had a flair for art. This gained him a sponsorship to attend the Otis Art Institute. In the 1930’s, Tyrus graduated from the Otis Art Institute and began his career in Hollywood.
Wong found his place as an entry level animator for Walt Disney in 1938. In the beginning, he drew hundreds of images of Mickey Mouse. In his own time, he had drawn many pastel sketches of deer in the forest. These drawings won the attention of Walt Disney himself and inspiration gained from them became the basis for the visual styling of the movie Bambi.
These beautiful background paintings were said to be inspired by Song dynasty classical Chinese paintings. For this, Tyrus Wong was made lead artist of the project, however, his contribution to Bambi was unknown for several decades.
Not long after Bambi was completed, Tyrus Wong was fired from Disney Studios as a result of the Disney animators strike. The Disney Animators strike came about as employees of the company were grumbling about the disorganisation of pay amongst workers. As the strike came to an end, Walt Disney felt he could no longer trust any employee who had taken part as he felt it was a direct insult and betrayal of everything he has worked for. It was due to this strike and lack of trust that Wong left the Walt Disney Company.
Bambi would be released in the year following Wongs departure from the Walt Disney Studios.
In 2001, Tyrus Wong was inducted as a Disney legend. From August 2013 through to February 2014, hie work was exhibited at the Walt Disney Family Museum with a hardcover book being published by the Walt Disney Family to go along with the exhibit.
Tyrus Wong passed away on December 30th 2016 aged an amazing 106 years old.
a mermaid be waiting for you, in mysterious fathoms below