Who is Andreas Deja?
Andreas Deja is one of the most well-known and respected animators of our time. His unique combination of expert Disney knowledge, extensive study of Disney’s original animators work, and personal artistic skill has led to his numerous impressive and iconic works. He has been dedicated to the idea of working for Disney since he was eleven years old, and he has been able to fulfill his childhood dreams by creating his own Disney characters. He is most remembered for his distinct creations of some of Disney’s most iconic villains: Gaston, Jafar, and Scar. He has also worked on some of Disney’s most beloved heroes including Hercules, Lilo, and Mickey Mouse himself. His influence continues to inspire animators to this day as his work provides the best example of the original Disney animator’s work being crafted into a more modern, yet classic, style. His prolific art demonstrates an ideal representation of each individual character’s expressions, emotions, though processes, and movements. He has always believed that Disney’s best work is all about the hand-drawn animation, and since the recent move towards CG animation he has backed off of his 30 year Disney career. He continues to work privately on his own animations, but he will always be known as one of Disney’s great character creators
Childhood & Early Life
This talented animator was born on April 1, 1957 in Gdańsk, Poland. His family moved to Germany a year later, where he spent his childhood immersed in the world of Disney.
In 1968, the visionary viewed ‘The Jungle Book’ for the first time, and he was instantly inspired to become an animator for Disney Studios. He was so serious about his dreams that he wrote to the studio and asked them how to go about becoming one of their animators.
In the late 1970s he attended the ‘FokwangHochschule’ focusing on graphic design in Essen, Germany. While still in school, he sent his best drawings to the head of the training program for Disney, Eric Larson.
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After seeing the student’s drawings, Disney invited him to a four week training course and subsequently hired him in 1980. He excitedly accepted and moved from Germany to America.
In 1985, he worked on his first film as character designer and animator for ‘The Black Cauldron’. His extensive knowledge about Disney’s previous animators prevented him from working at full potential, as much of the animation mirrored earlier models too much.
In 1986, he animated the Queen in the ‘Great Mouse Detective’. In this film, he was able to better highlight his personal style while working with three-dimensional drawing.
In 1988, he began work on ‘Oliver & Company,’ but eventually turned down the film to work on ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ animating the main character, Roger Rabbit, and nearly every other character except Jessica. This film is where he really found his personal animation style while successfully incorporating the old animator’s styles as well.
One his more successful films came from his animation of King Triton in ‘The Little Mermaid’ in 1989. He successfully created a balance between realistic and comic that paved the way for future Disney animators.
In 1990, he excitedly got the position of supervising animator for Mickey Mouse himself in the movie‘The Prince and the Pauper.’
From 1991 to 1994, he worked on the most major films of his career during his ‘villain trilogy’ phase. He animated Gaston from ‘Beauty and the Beast’,Jafar in ‘Aladdin’, and Scar in ‘The Lion King’. His outstanding ability, to make the villains contrast the good characters, shows in opposing clothing, design, characterization.
In 1997, he decided to switch to the more heroic characters for a change. He was originally hired to work on Hades in the Disney hit ‘Hercules’, but instead requested to do the main character himself.
In 2002, he worked on one of his most iconic characters, Lilo, from ‘Lilo and Stitch’. The character’s subtle characterization was one of Deja’s favorite characters and films to work on.
From 2004 to 2011, he worked on films such as ‘Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas’,‘Home on the Range’,‘The Princess and the Frog’, and ‘Winnie the Pooh’. His unique style makes every character he does unique in its own right.
According to Deja’s personal blog ‘Deja View’, right now he is spending his time working on his own animated films. His 30 years long Disney career, he hints, may not be over yet.
Deja’s work on ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, in 1988, launched his career forward as he animated a toon universe that is intertwined with real life action. The film created a new interest in animation and revived the industry.It is said to have begun the modern era of American animation.
Awards & Achievements
In 2006, he was awarded the ‘Winsor McCay Award’ at the 35th Annie Awards. The honor was given due to his significant contributions to the art of animation.
Personal Life & Legacy
This inspiring man leads an openly gay life which is said to have influenced the development of some Disney characters.
Deja is said to be one of the most influential animators in Disney history. His skill working with realistic movements and interesting characterization has influenced artists and animators worldwide.
While working on his first film, ‘The Black Cauldron,’ he shared a cubicle with the future famous director Tim Burton.
This famous animator often brought live animals to the studio during the animation process. He used these animals to study and create his animated characters. Some of his characters inspired by the animals were the dog in the ‘Lady and the Tramp’, deer in‘Bambi’, and lions in the movie‘Lion King’