I first learned about Herbert D. Ryman (1910-1989) while on vacation in Walt Disney World, and his art has been inspiring me ever since. He was both a commercial and a fine artist who had an insatiable need to sketch the world around him and bring fantastic ideas to life through pen, ink, watercolor, and oil. His work as a Disney concept artist set the tone for every Disney theme park until he died in 1989.
“My own dream of happiness would be to live in every spot on our globe. To see and study and record and most of all, to understand. And to pass on in some tangible form a fragment of that enthusiasm and love.” –Herbert D. Ryman
His concept paintings were the first blueprint for Disney Imagineers to create their trademark fun-filled parks which transport guests into different worlds in time and space. The story goes that he simply sat d own at his drawing table and drew as Walt Disney described to him his dream for a fresh and clean version of the creepy, run-down amusement parks of the day. The ease in his style, the whimsy of the lines, the tones of the bold colors, and the composition all combine to give the viewer a sense of “what’s next, what’s around the corner?” - just like you feel in the parks themselves.EPCOT Center Concept (Photo: disneyatwork.com)
Ryman’s extraordinary talent was in his ability to take ideas that resided in the excited mess of the mind and extract their essence into inspiring concept art. His original concept drawing for Disneyland is what earned Disney the financial backing to continue the project and bring it into fruition. Without Ryman's ability to put beautiful ideas on paper, we may never have seen Walt Disney’s true vision for his parks come into reality.
Ryman’s concept art continues to be referenced by Disney imagineers, and they use it to inspire updates to the parks even today. Take a look at some more of his artwork below and let it inspire you to create a more beautiful tomorrow.