Illustrator Insporation

Tim Burton was a Disney animator for less than a year before he was let go for creating too dark of imagery for young viewers. Despite the defeat, he went on to become one of the most influential and discussed illustrators and directors of modern time. His “visually striking” masterpieces combine fantasy with horror to tell stories of freaks and loners. Using inspiration from Dr. Seuss, German Expressionism, and Victorian aesthetic Tim Burton’s films are unique and memorable.

One of my favorite parts of Tim Burton films is the sets and costumes which really enwrap the audience in the story. A theme of black and white can be seen in both the set designs and costumes; the darkening on these create a paler look to characters which emphasizes the Victorian aesthetic more. Similarly, leading characters appear with fairer hair colors and sunken white faces and extravagant clothing. According to Martyn Conterio, author of, “Burton is a man steeped in the history of art and his synthesizing of different periods and eras is humorous and striking.” On top of the American kitsch-Gothic styles, Burton is a master at using camera angles to make stunning picturesque frames. For example, Sweeney Todd. In Sweeney Todd, the sets are dull and dark browns and gray with pops of saturated reds and yellows. The costumes are steampunk with metal and stripes and tears in the fabrics of their Victorian gowns. His camera angles are “wonky” and exaggerated often going from above the audience swooping over an entire town. These high-angled tracking shots that glides and weave through the towns Burton creates are what make his films seem real and believable.

Tim Burton has been a personal inspiration for me as an aspiring artist. I remember when I was little and watched his stop-motion animations taking everything he did for granted. Not thinking about the time and the efforts of Burton and his team to create these movies. I didn’t start to enjoy his films completely until I was in my late teens and could understand the beauty behind the stories and images. However, what truly inspires me is his story. Burton wasn’t a instant success. He got into a wonderful study as an apprentice and failed at it. His concepts were unaccepted and unwanted so he branched off and created his own studio. Tim Burton had so much faith in himself and his talent that he took the criticisms of others and made his own success elsewhere. As someone going to school to be an artist and one day branching out to do my own art, seeing a success story as complicated as Tim Burton’s is wonderful. Knowing that there are success stories out of failure in the field I’m entering helps to conquer fears of putting myself out there.