The 100 Greatest WDI Artists of All Time

RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I've compiled a ranking & showcase of the greatest themed design artists in history (or since the advent of WED and the modern idea of theme park).

This is a highly subjective ranking based on my personal preferences, which include things like breadth of work, diversity of subjects, versatility, realism, detail, epicness and - most importantly and undefinably - gut reaction/wow factor.

Beginning in ascending order with...

#1 Dan Goozee: Gen II. Called "The Phenom" by other pros. The best of the all-time best. Rich, detailed & colorful Key aerials of parks like DisneySea & Animal Kingdom are trademarks. If there's a piece of art you keep going back to and staring at, good chance it was by Goozee. Outside Disney, known for James Bond movie posters and famous Jurassic Park River Adventure painting. Pre-digital era genius. Like numerous others on the list, he deserves a dedicated coffee table book, or even a permanent physical gallery.
Gen II - Dan Goozee.jpg

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#2 Sam McKim: Gen I. Personal favorite among the Gen I greats. Produced masterworks in pencil, pen and paint. Also did the epic "Fun Maps" for Disneyland and DLP. All by hand. Can do it all and did. Long overdue for dedicated book, Disney Editions!
Gen I - Sam McKim.jpg

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#3 Bryan Jowers: Gen II. Gives a unique glowing quality to his epic paintings. Master of Wow Factor. Legendary Indiana Jones Adventure & DLP work. Recent art for Shanghai.
Gen II - Bryan Jowers.jpg

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#4 Collin Campbell: Gen I. Utility all-star who created gorgeous colorful renderings, maps & promotional art for seemingly every project under the sun throughout the 60s, 70s & 80s.
Gen I - Collin Campbell.jpg

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#5 R. Tom Gilleon: Gen II. Like Herb Ryman and Ned Mueller, among others, created theme park works that look like they should be hanging in a Fine Art Gallery.
Gen II - R. Tom Gilleon.jpg

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#6 Greg Pro: Gen III. The Dan Goozee of the current generation, 'nuff said. The go-to artist for the Key aerials for most the major developments for Disney & Universal. Just as good at ground views and promo art as he is at trademark birdseyes.
Gen III - Greg Pro.jpg
 
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RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
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#7 Clem Hall: Gen I. Responsible for one of the greatest Imagineering artworks (EPCOT Center aerial painting) and numerous other pieces of distinction. His illustrations convey excitement.
Gen I - Clem Hall.jpg

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#8 Herb Ryman: Gen I. The Master. Responsible for the Magna Carta DL map. Shaped the look and feel of DL, MK & EPCOT Center. His work is like no other in the business. Un-imitatable.
Gen I - Herb Ryman.jpg

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#9 Harper Goff: Gen I. Famous for designing the Nautilus, Main Street, Adventureland. Meticulous illustrations of World Showcase pavilions shaped that area of EPCOT Center.
Gen I - Harper Goff.jpg

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#10 John Horn(ee)y: Many years with Disney culminated with being named VP of Concept Design. Rightly deserved. Extremely versatile and luminous work spans Key Overview paintings to characters to promotional art. A top ten of all time.
Gen II - John *****.jpg

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To be continued...
 
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JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
Thanks for these and whats to come. So many of these artists names and content get overlooked and dont justly get the credit for all theyve contributed. Such artistic talent is a life long developed skill, appreciated by me who can barely draw a stick man or a straight line.
 

RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#11 Dorothea Redmond: Gen I. Produced the most elegant of WDI artwork. As skilled at interiors as exteriors. Creates soothing, beautiful, high art.
Gen I - Dorothea Redmond.jpg

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#12 Christopher Smith: Gen III. Amazing Key artist works on every subject matter for WDI in the 90s & 00s (and other companies today). One of the very top talents in the industry.
Gen III - Christopher Smith.jpg
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#13 Stephan Martiniere: Gen III. An elite concept and commercial artist brought in by WDI to work on Pandora and Shanghai, where his stunning work shows why he is among the best in the biz today.
Gen III - Stephan Martiniere.jpg

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#14 Robert 'Bob' Scifo: Gen II. Film matte painter who lent his incredible talents to the creation of EPCOT Center.
Gen II - Bob Scifo.jpg

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#15 Tim Delaney: Gen II. Longtime WDI responsible for Discoveryland, Living Seas, etc.. Breadth of style & subject matter is impressive & unique. His unbuilt Pirateland for HK among top woulda, coulda, shoulda projects for Disney.
Gen II - Tim Delaney.jpg

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To be continued...
 
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Animaniac93-98

Well-Known Member
This is my first time seeing many of these renderings.

I think Dorothea Redmond may be my favourite of the concept artists.

I think more than anyone else she shaped MK into what it became.

She had a beautiful way of presenting picturesque landscapes/buildings that still felt real in terms of material and structure.
 

RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#16 Nina Rae Vaughn: Gen II. Produced warm, colorful, brilliant pieces for Disney parks around the globe. Took over Fun Map duties from Sam McKim and even improved on his work. Created first of these maps for DisneySea and HKDL.
Gen II - Nina Rae Vaughn.jpg

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#17 Frank Armitage: Gen II. I'm getting repetitive with praise, but Armitage was another master working on parks like DLP, MGM and EPCOT Center and was just stupendously good at his job.
Gen II - Frank Armitage.jpg

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#18 Ned Mueller: Gen II. Fine landscape artist who painted beautiful wide vistas for Animal Kingdom, DCA, DisneySea among others. One of many artists I wish had painted more for Disney (or WDI had published more of his work).
Gen II - Ned Mueller.jpg

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#19 Marc Davis: Gen I. One of the most influential of all. Essential illustrator of many beloved Classic attractions (and an unbuilt classic in WRE). Gift for character and situational story-telling in his art. One of the very few WDI (the others are Ryman & Hench) to have gotten his due in dedicated Coffee Table books (i.e., recent two-volume oeuvre). Every artist listed so far deserves a tribute book... I'd be the first to buy.
Gen I - Marc Davis.jpg

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#20 Chris Turner: Gen III. This generation's Marc Davis. Extremely prolific artist working on many projects of the last two decades, and his scenic illustrations tell their stories. Character & poster art, as well. One of the most-published WDI designers since Davis.
Gen III - Chris Turner.jpg

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To be continued...
 
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RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#21 Jim Michaelson: Gen II. Rightly-known for his legendary posters and detailed maps. Also capable of superb architectural hand-renderings.
Gen II - Jim Michaelson.jpg

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#22 Wes Cook: Gen II. Here is an artist whose type of impeccable work I appreciate. Grand, highly detailed overviews... by hand with no computer assistance. If he had scores of published works, like Goozee, he'd be near the top of my list.
Gen II - Wes Cook.jpg

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#23 Chuck Ballew: Gen II. Has a Bryan Jowers-like ability to create jaw-dropping scenic art (see Indiana Jones). His map of the Temple is personal favorite.
Gen II - Chuck Ballew.jpg

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#24 Gil Keppler: Gen II. I thought he was a Future specialist, having created the Star Tours look, until I saw his Indiana Jones work in the latest Disneyland coffee table book. Greatness is in the details.
Gen II - Gil Keppler.jpg

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#25 Tom 'Thor' Thordarson
: Gen II. Master of color, excitement and beach vibes. His non-theme park Hawaii Art is worth checking out, but will make you ache for a trip to the tropics. The artistic force behind DisneySea's brilliant Mysterious Island attractions.
Gen II - Tom Thordarson.jpg
 

RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#26 Joe Rohde: Gen II. Animal Kingdom is his baby and he produced many often-excellent pieces of art in its creation. Prior to AK, designed Adventurers Club and Maelstrom.
Gen II - Joe Rohde.jpg

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#27 Eric Heschong: Gen II. Very recognizable style. Created key art for many, many projects - most outside Disney.
Gen II - Eric Heschong.jpg

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#28 Tony Baxter: Gen II. Most famous WDI of his generation who had a major hand in hit after hit. His Discovery Bay concept still tantalizes.
Gen II - Tony Baxter.jpg

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#29 John Hench: Gen I. Like Baxter, Hench's importance as a leader of WDI for decades was even greater than his iconic artistic contributions.
Gen I - John Hench.jpg

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#30 Bill Sull(e)y: Gen I. With fellow greats Herb Ryman, Bob Scifo, Clem Hall, etc., helped define EPCOT Center, which in its original form was my peak theme park experience.
Gen I - Bill Sully.jpg
 

91JLovesDisney

Active Member
I have an original copy of Nina Rae Vaughn's map (top middle photo) So fun to look at! I noticed that it has the Monsanto HOFT, which always intrigued me...
 

RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#31 George McGinnis: Gen I. Industrial designer/artist. Father of Horizons (my favorite attraction), the WDW Monorail and Peoplemover. Also capable of exciting designs in the pulp-adventure theme.
Gen I - George McGinnis.jpg

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#32 Scott Sinclair: Gen II. This is another artist I would rank closer to the top had more of his work been made public. I really appreciate the crisp, clean and iconic nature of his drawing.
Gen II - Scott Sinclair.jpg

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#33 Gerry Dunn: Gen II. An architect's renderings can feel utilitarian & restrained compared to a concept artist's. Fortunately, Disney had some very artful architects and Gerry Dunn is one of the most illustrative and color-employing.
Gen II - Gerry Dunn.jpg

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#34 Scot Drake: Gen III. If Gen I had Hench/McGinnis as its futurists, and Gen II had Goozee/Keppler/Delaney, Gen III has Drake leading WDI's forays into Tomorrow (and Marvel).
Gen III - Scot Drake.jpg

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#35 Phillip Freer: Gen II. Deeply involved in creating the look of one the greatest theme parks (DisneySea). Worked on one of the greatest attractions (original Tower of Terror), to boot.
Gen II - Phillip Freer.jpg

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RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#36 James Wong: Gen II. Top-tier artist/designer whose imagery speaks for itself. Wish more of his stuff was out there for the public & industry to appreciate.
Gen II - James Wong.jpg

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#37 Ahmad Jafari: Gen II. Another trained architect with ability to do artistic renderings. A legend with nearly four decades designing Disney's most beautiful parks.
Gen II - Ahmad Jafari.jpg

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#38 Eddie Sotto: Gen II. Sotto, who was a major contributor to WDI during the 80s & 90s, works in pen and marker. He draws and drafts like Herb Ryman: with great understanding of real, traditional architecture and place-making.
Gen II - Eddie Sotto.jpg

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#39 Claude Coats: Gen I. Famous disciple of Walt. Was a model-maker in addition to animator & ride artist. Mansion. Pirates. Mr. Toad.
Gen I - Claude Coats.jpg

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#40 Scott Sherman
: Gen II. Art Director for Mysterious Island at DisneySea. Also, IOA's Jurassic Park & unbuilt Journey to Paradise for Tropicana Las Vegas.
Gen II - Scott Sherman.jpg

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RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#41 David Damron: Gen III. This is an artist I only became aware of after his work on Shanghai Disneyland. Has impeccable, detailed linework. His concept illustrations for the cancelled Hyperion Wharf are more impressive than what Disney later chose to build at Springs.
Gen III - David Damron.jpg

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#42 Ernie Prinzhorn: Gen I. Only a few of his pieces have been made public, but his hand-drawn perspectives and elevations of Main Street, Magic Kingdom are something to behold. Here's hoping more of his work sees the light of day.
Gen I - Ernie Prinzhorn.jpg

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#43 Leo Svendsen: Gen I. Same situation as Prinzhorn: Brilliant artist, but only a couple pieces published. Anybody seen more works? I'm a big fan of when theme park art = fine art.
Gen I - Leo Svendsen.jpg

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#44 David J. Negron: Gen II. Rendered the original New Fantasyland '83 and worked on EPCOT. Like numerous artists on this list, he worked at WDI early in his career and spent more time as a film artist.
Gen II - David J Negron.jpg

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#45 Marvin Davis: Gen I. Disneyland's Original Architect & Planner.
Gen I - Marvin Davis.jpg

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RandySavage

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#46 Ray Spencer: Gen III. Has a very nice painterly style. Responsible for a lot of the good in DCA. Also Everest among others.
Gen III - Ray Spencer.jpg

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#47 David Durand: Gen II. Created vibrant storyboard and scenic art for DisneySea and Tower of Terror.
Gen II - David Durand.jpg

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#48 Dale Hennessy: Gen I. Hollywood Art Director contributed to early Disneyland designs (wish his vision of Tomorrowland was implemented!)
Gen I - Dale Hennesy.jpg

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#49 Claudio Mazzoli: Gen II. Very distinct artist provided concept design for Future World and one of the great surviving murals.
Gen II - Claudio Mazzoli.jpg

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#50 George Stokes: Gen II. One of my favorite poster artists.
Gen II - George Stokes.jpg

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