Mike Gabriel

  • Show Title:
    The Fearless Art of Mike Gabriel
  • Artist:
    Mike Gabriel
  • View Artwork:
    Gallery Viewing Only
  • Show Schedule:
    April 17th - May 31st
  • Artist Statement:
    I hope an evident pride in being a cartoonist comes through as you peruse my art. I am not aspiring to be a fine artist I am aspiring to make fine cartoon art. There is a subtle difference. The goal in my art, is to make the complex simple. Cartoons break form down to it's essence. I love that. I love seeing just how so little can say so much in such a direct and powerful way. Bold, direct, confident strokes that show vigor and intent. Nothing timid or uncertain. I respect bold commitment in art. I try to be that kind of an artist.

    Stylistically, I am striving to become as unique as possible. More specifically Mike Gabriel. What does my hand to brush to canvas want to do that nobody else is doing? Where does my sensibility stray off the expected path and veer into a true to my gut subtextual inclinational style. I want to continue to listen to that inner voice and tell my fine art voice to shut up. What do I love? I ask myself that when I am about to start a painting. Don't think about the form think about the feeling.

    Let the brush describe it any way it happens. But feel it and let the brush depict it in the simplest way possible. Let the paint be paint. Let it look like what it is while it surprisingly describes so much more of it's subject matter. Let it's strokes show. Don't over think or overwork or overtly try too hard. Let it float in and surprise myself. I don't usually draw before a painting I am drawing and painting simultaneously.

    I often glance at a photo of an animal I am going to cartoon or a lady pose I am going to riff off of. You may recognize the Lady In the Red Dress with the two Poodles is the same set up as a famous Audrey Hepburn studio glamour photo. I like taking inspiring photos of glamorous people and re-imagine them as Pacific island themes, but with the glamour intact. I am most importantly having fun. I make sure I don't suffer in my art. If I am not having fun for some reason while I am painting, I stop, sit down, and start over with the goal being to have fun. Nothing else is going to create the kind of art I want to look at, let alone create.

    I play in my art. I deliver fun for myself. I paint what makes me happy. What gives me joy to paint. I figure if I am having fun, it has a better chance of evincing joy from the beholder.

205_Mike GabrielMike Gabriel has been playing a key creative role at Walt Disney Animation Studios for over thirty years, working in a variety of capacities including director, animator, storyman, character designer, visual development, production designer and art director. In the latter capacity, he most recently helped to create some of the wildly imaginative and visually stunning gaming worlds for Disney’s Oscar®-nominated 2012 comedy adventure, “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Gabriel has co-directed two Disney features – “The Rescuers Down Under” (1990) and the Oscar®-winning “Pocahontas” (1995) – as well as the Oscar®-nominated 2004 short, “Lorenzo.” For the latter, Gabriel designed the characters, storyboarded the film, painted all the backgrounds, and was responsible for the production design. “Lorenzo” was based on an idea by Disney legend Joe Grant, who was Gabriel’s friend and mentor.

Born in Long Beach, California, Gabriel took his first animation class at Golden West Junior College (in Huntington Beach), and made his first contact with the Disney Studios when he was just 18. Determined to become a Disney animator, he finally got the chance and began working there as an assistant on the feature “The Fox and the Hound” (1981). Other animation assignments quickly followed on the 1982 short film, “Fun with Mr. Future,” and the features “The Black Cauldron,” “The Great Mouse Detective” (for which he designed the supporting dog and cat characters, Toby and Felicia), and “Oliver & Company.” For “Oliver,” he served as supervising animator, and also contributed to the story and character design. His unit was responsible for much of the exciting chase scene that serves as the film’s finale, as well as Dodger’s song, “Why Should I Worry?”

Following his directing stint on “Lorenzo,” Gabriel went on to provide concept art and storyboards for “Bolt” (2008), additional art direction for Disney’s 2009 hand-drawn animated feature, “The Princess and the Frog,” character designs, storyboards, and visual development for “Tangled” (2010, and visual development for “Winnie the Pooh.” Other recent credits include visual development for Pixar Animation Studios’ hit film, “Brave,” and for Tim Burton’s 2012 stop-motion animated feature, “Frankenweenie.” Additionally, he did some concept and visual development work for Disney’s 2013 animated release, “Frozen.”

Gabriel and his wife, Tammy, have three children, and live in Santa Clarita, California.

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