Open Letter and Introduction

Dear readers, animators, and animation fans everywhere

We have reached the point in the countdown where we really start reaching the guys who have really left a mark that will stay with Disney animation forever. We’re getting to the guys who really put their guts, hearts, and brains into their work and did everything they could to accomplish the seemingly impossible goals that animation, especially at Disny, tries to reach. Although all the people on the blog have their purpose and are outstanding artists there’s a combination of many things(drive, passion, effort, desire, artistry, sentiment, intellect, etc.) that really sets these guys we’re going to get to apart.

The hard thing to remember though is that the honorees remaining weren’t just given their talent and in most cases didn’t have advantages to anyone else who has set foot to work in the Disney studio. I think the importance between the words influential and best is very important. Better is just a matter of opinion and taste. Influential means having both a short-term and long-term impact and helping to inspire and change the way things are done. I put a lot of thought and studying into this list and I can tell you one of my favorite things about the honorees chosen is the differences they have between eachother. So different backgrounds, strengths, struggles, trials, triumphs, styles, personalities, approaches, and perspectives. Also amazing enough at many points many of the remaining honorees acutally weren’t that excellent and really struggled with their art and some of them didn’t really become what you’d call fantastic untill well in their careers. Their backgrounds and situations too weren’t always that easy. I can tell you through my research that many of these people grew up poor, some of them had real turmoil at different points of their life, most thought at one point they weren’t a good artist at all, and almost all of them had to overcome huge obstacles and odds against them both professionally and personally. In fact quite a few of them came to the studio or into the industry when it seemed like the studio would close its doors forever.

However I think as unique and individualistic they are the remaining honorees have a few key things in common that in my humble opinion have much to do with their success and accomplishments. One is that these gentlemen are men who never settled for second best. They all worked(or for some work) very hard to put on performances that were strong, expressive, high-quality, entertaining, emotional, and most of all believable. That effort and determination made them able to animate things that no one else could animate. Disney animation is much more than a studio and a company, it’s something with meaning, legacy, merit, and a united goal with a drive for perfection and mastery. All the remaining men felt that drive to stay true to what Disney means and to keep it at the high level it’s supposed to be at. They searched for inspiration, new ways of doing things, unique styles and approaches, communication, and ways of expressing the feelings they had inside them for the characters. I also find that a majority of them were very intellectual and emotional, opening a door for them to understand and connect with a character in a way that most people can’t. Last I think these honorees all had a passion and dedication which made them able to seem like they could be on top of the world and feel like they had no limitations in the world of endless possibilies we call animation. They’re very dynamic both as artists and as people. Technology, situation, and morale weren’t and aren’t limits for these men. Some are great at computer animation(I believe anyone whose truly a great animator and is open minded is equally as good at both mediums if they give it time and effort), some still put on great animation when times were tough either at the studio or in their personal life, and others stayed strong through times when the future of Disney seemed very grim.  Not anyone can be a great animator(you have to have that passion and drive from within) but I honestly and strongly believe a great animator can come from anywhere no matter what their drawing abilities, situation,  race, sexuality, gender, religion, culture, background, or surroundings they come from. I hope you all enjoy my posts on my personal picks for the at this time 19 most influential animators in Disney history and are inspired by their posts to reach for the great, seemingly-impossible accomplishments and unlimited possibilites of animation. All these men certainly have had that kind of impact on me.


Grayson Ponti

5 Responses to “Open Letter and Introduction”

  1. That was a beautiful sentiment. Hear hear.

  2. Well written and thoughtful letter Grayson. I’ve very impressed with your blog and the research you’ve put into your posts and I’m keenly interested in your final 5 picks and especially who ends up #1.
    I’m curious if you’ll give more weight to animators who were primary designs on your list since they obviously set the visual style and tone of the films. I’ve seen you comment on other blogs and I have an inkling on how you’re taste goes, so I’ll be curious if you go with your heart or your head in the end.

    • Aaron,
      Acting, performance, and emotions is the most imortant thing in animator has to do at least in my opinion. I’ve already planned out all the remaining honorees and where they’ll go. I have decided not to let others have an influence in what I say.

  3. So you’re making Walt Disney #1 then! Ah ha!

    • Well you got to understand the word “animator” is very important in the countdown. I’m ranking people only by their career as a character animation and only for their career animating at the Disney Studio. So in other words even though Walt was the most influential PERSON in Disney history he’s not even an animator. He was a producer so he doesn’t really count. He stopped animating back in the 20s well before any work that has had a signficant impact on the art of animation took place. Also he wasn’t even good by those standards, much less the high standards that these honorees are being judged by. Walt’s glory days were as a producer and head of the studio.The top spot will be someone who was an animator during the feature film era and that’s all I’m going to say. You’ll just have to wait in see.

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