The Art of Walt Disney

The Art of Walt Disney: From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms (also known as The Art of Walt Disney) is a book by Christopher Finch, chronicling the artistic achievements and history of Walt Disney and The Walt Disney Company. The original edition was published in 1973; revised and expanded editions were issued in 1975, 1995, 2004, and 2011. The newest edition of the book covers a broad history of the company and specific sections for movies, Pixar, live action and the Theme parks. The latest edition also includes a foreword by John Lasseter.


After Walt Disney became famous for his achievements, Christopher Finch decided to make a book called "Art of Walt Disney". Originally published in 1973, the book by Christopher Finch, Art of Walt Disney, is about the innovations of Walt Disney and it has been revised and expanded many different times and with in these many times, his definition of “Art” is always changing. This expansive revision of the 1973 edition contains seven additional chapters, with color illustrations, on Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King.

Background of Disney and His Art

Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5th, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. He moved to Marceline, Missouri with his family as a young child. Not long after, Walt began drawing and painting, even going so far as to paint farm animals on the side of his family’s home. As he got older, he continued with his drawing and started selling his pictures to neighbors and friends. In high school, Walt was an active member of his school’s newspaper, whom he drew cartoons for[1], while also dividing much of his time to photography[2].

As a young adult, Walt not only continued his drawing and painting, but also starting working with animation and made short animated videos for the company he worked for at the time, Pesman-Rubin Commercial Art Studio. Walt eventually left that company due to layoffs, and instead decided with his friend, Ub Iwerks, to start their own company called Iwerks-Disney Commercial Artists. Unfortunately, Walt and Ub’s company did not last very long, and they soon found new jobs at a new company, the Kansas City Film Ad Company, formally known as the Kansas City Slide Company. Here, Walt learned even more about the art of animation, and contributed to creating commercials that played before movies. It was not long after when Walt decided to leave the Kansas City Film Ad Company to start another one of his own, called Laugh-O-Gram Films, where he created his first popular cartoon called Alice’s Wonderland, which turned into a series called Alice Comedies. Unfortunately for Walt, not enough money was coming in, which lead to many of his employees quitting his company, and forcing him to declare bankruptcy[1].

In 1927, Walt created a new character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which also became popular. However, the distributor he was working with at the time, Charles Mintz, hired all of Walt’s animation employees and told him that he had no rights to Oswald, because the cartoon was not copyrighted under Walt’s name. After, Walt, his brother Roy O. Disney, and Ub Iwerks, came together to create all new characters, all of which Walt was going to make sure he owned. Mickey Mouse was soon developed, a character Walt had been inspired to create just from a simple pet mouse he once had in his office back in Missouri[1].


Since its release in 1973, The Art of Walt Disney has expanded and revised its content on four separate occasions; 1975, 1995, 2004, and 2011. Each edition and revision elaborates on the growth of the Walt Disney company throughout the years. Paying attention to the inspiration and creations of drawings, cover art, theme park additions and attractions, archives, and interviews with employees.


In 1975, Christopher Finch released the first revised, expanded edition of The Art of Walt Disney. Finch includes the creative process of Walt Disney, and how his imagination created concepts and creatures that helped build the company. Information throughout the book is compiled from interviews with staff members, archives, theme park concepts, and illustrations.


The 1995 edition of The Art of Walt Disney discusses the development of the Walt Disney company over the past 20 years since the last edition in 1975. Finch examines the history of Disney’s cover art, the illustration, imagination, and animation cels behind newly released films such as the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Adding in information on previously-unpublished concept art, and Disney theme park additions.


2004 revised edition of the book, focuses on Walt Disney’s achievements as a company. Incorporating interviews of previous and current staff members, decades of film stills, hundreds of illustrations and concept art.


2011 is another revised edition that further explains the expansion and development of the Walt Disney company. Bringing in more information on the company’s connection with Pixar films. This revision goes into greater detail with the process of ideas, illustrations, concept art, theme park additions, films, and animations.


  1. "Walt Disney (1901 - 1966)". The State Historical Society of Missouri. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  2. "Walt Disney, Biography". Just Disney. Retrieved 3 December 2017.

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