Animation Artifacts &Disney 15 Jul 2009 07:21 am

Walt-Graham communique

- By 1935, Walt Disney had realized where he had to take his studio. Principal to the plans he had was the education of the artists within his studio.

At this time, a number of students were wending their way from Chouinard Art Institute to the Disney employ. In 1935, there was a large gathering of teachers from Chouinard who came to the Disney Studio one evening to see the environment and start to mold a union between the school and the studio. Disney offered a catered meal for the event.

The studio became permanently linked with Chouinard, which eventually became Cal Arts. Disney stayed in close contact with a number of instructors and selected an obvious choice for the large task of helping to educate those within his studio. _____________________Don Graham

He planned a night course several days a week in which Don Graham would lead and he would involve a number of key designers and animators in instructing within the studio.

Prior to the start of classes, Disney wrote a long letter to Graham to discuss what he hoped would be taught. Here’s that letter:

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10 Responses to “Walt-Graham communique”

  1. on 15 Jul 2009 at 7:55 am 1.Mark Mayerson said …

    How many contemporary animation executives would be capable of writing such a memo? We both know the answer and it’s the reason that current animation is in the state that it’s in.

  2. on 15 Jul 2009 at 8:24 am 2.Tim Hodge said …

    One of the most important documents in animation history.

  3. on 15 Jul 2009 at 11:13 am 3.Dan Caylor said …

    This is fantastic Michael, thanks for sharing. A copy of this should be sent to the heads of every sham animation school (VFS).

  4. on 15 Jul 2009 at 11:31 am 4.Tom Minton said …

    Most of today’s animation execs admire Walt Disney because they love Woody Woodpecker.

  5. on 15 Jul 2009 at 6:39 pm 5.Mark Sonntag said …

    It’s funny how many artists in animation have a copy of this. I still read it. It sure wouldn’t hurt execs to have a read of this.

  6. on 15 Jul 2009 at 10:21 pm 6.JaneD said …

    “Most of today’s animation execs admire Walt Disney because they love Woody Woodpecker.”

    Now THAT is FUNNY!

  7. on 16 Jul 2009 at 12:42 pm 7.Rusty Mills said …

    Thanks again Michael for all these wonderful documents and images you make available to us. I saw this many years ago when I was at CalArts and being young and naive I failed to make a copy of it but always remembered it. When I give animation classes this is what I’ve based it on.

  8. on 18 Jul 2009 at 6:49 pm 8.Tom Sito said …

    Remember too that Shamus Culhane first reproduced the memo in his memoir Talking Animals and Other Funny People. Concerned how his book sales would do, Shamus told me ” I figure if anybody buys this damn book, it will be for that memo!”

  9. on 07 Nov 2010 at 3:38 am 9.Entrenando animadores: por Walt Disney « Sultera Navis said …

    [...] Vía Michael Sporn Animation Splog [...]

  10. on 07 May 2012 at 2:27 pm 10.Anel Muller said …


    Good Morning! I hope you get this email sooner than later. I am writing to you because I hope you can share where you acquired that image of Don Graham. I am the registrar and curatorial assistant for the Walt Disney Family Museum and I working on some changes in our Snow White gallery. I would love to be able to include a photograph of Don Graham but cant seem to find any besides this one that you have posted. Any information you can share would be greatly appreciated.

    Anel Muller

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