Meet Jeff Shelly, the former Director of Character Art for Imagineering-Disney Parks, Experiences and Products for 33 years with the Walt Disney Company. He is the artist behind our custom collaboration print and brought this snack-filled theme to life. We recently asked Jeff a few questions about his exciting career and this unique and adorable print!
Q: What is your background, and how did you start working for Disney?
Just out of art school, In 1987 I was working in New York City as a freelance animator from project to project with different studios. I was looking through the yellow pages for some reason (yes, the yellow pages haha) and saw that Disney had a small office here that did just Consumer Products. I dropped my portfolio off and the rest is history. I have had the opportunity to hand-draw some of Disney's most classic characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and move up through the years to become one of Disney's Directors for Character Art.
Q: What are you up to now?
After 28 years I early retired from Disney, but I'm still bringing Mickey and Friends to life—and making sure every Disney character I draw goes through the inspection of my critical eye. For example, take Mickey. There is so much balance and technique needed to get it him right and strive for perfection with this iconic character. Because if you draw one thing wrong on his face, it throws everything else off and he looks wonky. Mickey looks very simple to draw, but he is one of the most complex Disney characters to get on model. It requires a type of animation style that is now almost a lost art. It's a technique I learned from the early generation of Disney animators when everything was still done with hand and ink and computers did exist. Being able to tell stories through the animations has breathed life into my own characters and creations. You can always find me illustrating and sketching on anything I can find.
Q: Tell us one of your favorite Disney memories?
A career highlight was traveling the country for Mickey Mouse's 90th Birthday celebration. As an artist, sometimes you tend to be alone in the studio while you create and sketch, and the birthday celebration was a great experience to interact with the public and do live art. I enjoy seeing the excitement on someone's face as a character comes to life in front of them on paper.
Q: Which Disney character do you enjoy drawing the most?
I would have to say I have the most creative fun with Pluto and Donald Duck.
Q: What do you like most about this limited-edition Disney x JuJuBe collaboration?
I appreciate that Sensational Snacks is an original concept and a print you haven't really seen before. I worked closely with Kat from JuJuBe on the storytelling and all the fun details. The patterns, colors, and characters all came together to tell a humorous story about food. Who wouldn't love that?
We recently asked Kat Santiago, JuJuuBe’s Senior Product & Design Manager a few questions about her inspiration and thoughts on this new collaboration.
Q: What inspired you to want to create this print?
My sister-in-law, Laurel Lynn, is a huge Disney fan—she is also the graphic designer who helped create this print!! One day we were tossing around ideas for a custom print and she said, “what if you took the classic Disney characters and had them eating their favorite snacks!?” She then proceeded to tell me a story about how Walt enjoyed simple foods, like hot dogs, and reportedly the trash cans at Disneyland are spaced apart the distance it took for Walt to finish a hot dog! I thought these were such fun stories.
Q: Tell us about the fun details you put into the collection?
Some fun new details for this collection are that for the 1st time EVER JuJuBe printed on our signature Chromatics’ fabric. I love the way that fabric adds an elevated texture to the line. We really wanted to add a level of sophistication to this collection, so we added a printed linen texture as well. Lastly, we developed a new, beautiful light satin gold finish for all the hardware.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about this collaboration?
Hand’s down working with the legend, Jeff Shelley. As an artist myself, it’s so inspiring to meet other artists who’ve built careers doing what they love. Jeff has been drawing Mickey almost as long as I’ve been on this planet, that leaves me speechless. My medium isn’t illustration, so for me, I’m in awe watching illustrators put pen (or pencil) to paper.
Shop our Disney x JuJuBe collaboration here!