Creatives all over the world certainly had a hard go of it in 2016, what with the entertainment industry losing a slew of dedicated and talented individuals as the year came to a close.
Sadly, it was reported that among them was Chinese artist Tyrus Wong, who died at the grand old age of 106 surrounded by his family and was the inspiration behind #Disney's legendary 1942 animation #Bambi.
A statement issued by the House of Mouse praised the "Disney Legend" hall of fame member saying:
"Legendary Disney artist Tyrus Wong had a gift for evoking incredible feeling in his art with simple, gestural composition."
As a youngster, Wong emigrated to the United States from China with his father, leaving behind his mother and sister who he would never see again. During this time, his father encouraged him to broaden his artistic talents by practicing calligraphy by dipping his brushes in water and painting on newspaper. Then, after studying as a fine artist, Wong came to work for Disney as an entry level animator back in 1938, contributing hundreds of sketches of Mickey Mouse. At first, he worked as an "inbetweener" for the studio, drawing images between poses to create illusions of motion.
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However, it was when he was asked to work on an animation of a young, white-tailed deer that he really made his mark. In particular, his sketches of Bambi in the serenity of the forest attracted the attention of Walt Disney himself and his stunning creations swiftly became the foundations of the 1942 movie. The Disney Museum revealed:
"Walt Disney saw that Tyrus was able to produce exquisite artwork that did not necessarily look like the forest - but rather, felt like the forest. Walt's vision for Bambi and use of Tyrus' work still influences films today."
Despite this though, the artist only worked for Disney for three years before moving onto Warner Bros — where he worked on storyboards for classics such as Rebel Without a Cause and The Sands of Iwo Jima until his retirement in 1968.
However, even after taking the decision to gradually step away from motion picture animation, Wong continued to broaden his creative horizons in different ways. Notably, he turned to creating bamboo kites and received a slew of awards for his exquisite creations from all over the globe.
By 2015, he held such great influence in the world of art that a feature-length documentary was dedicated to the artist — then 105-years-old — in TYRUS. Here's the trailer, showing his remarkable life journey:
Without a doubt, with Wong's passing at the end of 2016, the world of animation lost one of its brightest sparks. His long-standing legacy will never be forgotten as long as Bambi continues to tug at our heartstrings, and as long as animation remains one of the most beloved genres in the movie industry. The director of the TYRUS documentary, Pamela Tom, couldn't have put it better when she said:
"With his passing, we have lost a brilliant artist, motion picture and animation legend, Chinese American pioneer, and hero. Tyrus always faced adversity with dignity, courage, and art... he awed us with his talent, charmed us with his boyish humour, and moved us with his humility, generosity, resilience, and big heart."
Share you favorite Bambi memories in tribute to Tyrus Wong below