I’m still marveling at the incredible new book I got for Christmas, so today I’m featuring another piece of concept art from the book that particularly caught my eye. This early piece of Tinker Bell was done in pastels by Disney story artist Bianca Majolie. I’ve featured one of Majolie’s beautiful 1940s designs for Cinderella a few months ago in this post, her pieces are definitely among my favorites. Thanks to The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921-1968. I have recently discovered a lot more about Bianca Mojolie and her important role at the studio. I also discovered how her pastel drawings helped contribute to the development of Tinker Bell’s design.
Bianca Majolie was the first woman hired as a story artist at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, and possibly even the first woman hired in the Story department at any animation studio. Before her hiring in the 1930s, women were only hired to work in the Ink and Paint department. Majolie offered a unique perspective to the the Story department. While the men were usually preoccupied with finding the comedy and gaga within each situation, Majolie focused on bringing emotion and empathy into the story, thus elevating many of Disney’s film into complex masterpieces, not just funny cartoons..I find much of Bianca Majolie’s work to be charming, with such pretty soft colours, whimsical character designs, and a unique awareness of the fashions of the day. Her idea of Tinkerbell in this piece is so different from most other concept art of the character. With her long form fitting gown, wavy blonde hair, and boa she looks more like a miniature starlet from the late 1930s. I find Bianca Majolie’s design to be so much more sophisticated looking than the final version of Tinker Bell, and that’s what immediately drew my attention to this piece.
Of course Majolie’s sketch is nothing like Tinker Bell’s final design in the 1953 film. Just like with Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan took over a decade to develop, as it was first proposed in the late 1930s as a film to follow Pinocchio. During that time Tinker bell went through more changes than any other character. In some concept art she was a tiny ballerina, in some she was almost bug-like in appearance, and then some artists like Majolie, made her into a glamorous seductive woman. In the end, Tinker Bell was based largely upon three real-life women. Her face and distinctive hair style were inspired by a woman named Ginni Mack who worked in the studio Ink and Paint department at the time. Her body, on the other hand, was based upon the curvy figure of dancer Margaret Kerry (not Marilyn Monroe, that is an urban legend), who did much of the live action reference modeling for the fairy. Finally, Katherine Beaumont, the voice of Alice and Wendy, also did early reference acting for Tink, contributing not to her image, but to her child-like personality. So you see even one of the most famous Disney characters went through a lot of transformations before acquiring her final design, and a wide variety of woman contributed to her iconic look and personality.
Hope you enjoyed an in depth look at this unique piece of concept art featured in The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921-1968 . It’s a fascinating book and I hope to use it in the future to make this blog even more informative.
Image Credit: The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921-1968