Recognized as one of the leading animation artists of our times, Dan Haskett is known for his ability to do any job in the animation process. With knowledge in radio, television, advertising, public relations, and communication and 30 years experience in the animation industry, it is evident why Dan is so versatile. Considered by the industry to
be one of the most formidable character designers, Dan is credited with designing several characters for the Disney Studios, including Ariel, Grisby, and the Prince from “The Little Mermaid.”
At the age of three, Dan Haskett began drawing! Dan states, “I drew all the time while growing up. [I loved it as a child, and I still do.” His curiosity and fascination was always with animation. When Dan was only 11 years old, he figured out by himself how to animate cartoons. While in high school at the New York High School of Art & Design, his inquisitiveness paired with his innate talent helped Dan land his first professional animation job. He started out animating for commercials and progressed quickly to doing inking and painting for Sesame Street cartoons. Dan considers himself fortunate to have been working while attending high school and college. He believes it benefited him greatly in developing his talent.
Disney Studios recognized the special gift Dan possesses and hired him to work on several of their feature animation projects, such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” where he helped design Bell, “The Fox and the Hound,” and more recently,
“Mulan.” Warner Brothers Studios also requested Dan’s talents and used him to create what is called “inspiration art” for eight new cartoon projects.
Thus far in his career, Dan has worked with three of Disney’s legendary “nine old men,” Frank Thomas. Ollie Johnston, and Eric Larson. Dan’s passion for animation is inextinguishable, and he continues to bring his inspiration and talent to cartoon fans everywhere.
WHAT IS INSPIRATION ART?
Inspiration art. another one of Dan Haskett’s specialties, is the process where by an animator draws from scratch what visual direction or look the cartoon will take. Inspiration art is the conceptual starting point of the cartoon. It is the cartoon idea drawn out on pages. To accomplish the task of creating inspiration art, the animator’s imagination is set free to draw what he or she envisions the characters, the costumes, and the scenery to look like. The animator has to come up with all the drawings based on a single idea because no script or character drawings exist prior to the inspiration art
When asked if there are any artists that have inspired him, Dan replies, “Growing up it was Charles Schulz — the PEANUTS creator and Hank Ketcham — creator of Dennis the Menace. As I grew older, it became men like Chuck Jones and Frank Thomas.” Dan also mentions a non-animation artist, Ben Shahn, who was a social realist painter and an advertising artist for CBS in the 50’s and 60’s. Dan states, “Ben’s work has a somewhat grim subject matter based on depression. It evokes a lot of emotion and feeling.
Studying his work inspired more depth and feeling to my work. His work has helped me immensely.”