I was very sad to learn that a Disney Legend and all around amazing man, Ralph Kent, passed away on Monday. I had the pleasure of working with Ralph during my internship at the Disney Design Group, as well as during my time working there as a character artist. He was the father of the entire department, often sharing amazing stories about Walt Disney and the "old days" at the studio. He also introduced me to some of my artistic idols... Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Mark Davis and more. As an 18 year rookie artist, it was like stepping into a daydream! I will never forget my short time spent with Ralph, and I feel that he shaped not only the artist, but the person I am today.
My greatest memory of Mr. Kent was a small one, but one that will never leave me. I was having a rough day at the studio, and he and I were outside sitting at the same small table. He listened quietly as I told him that I had just been informed I would not be picked up as a full time artist once my internship ended. I was really upset, and it seemed to me that my life was over. As I finished moaning, there was a long pause. Ralph looked at me as only a seasoned veteran can look at an inexperienced rookie. "Jeremy, you just can't give up" he said. "Time changes all situations. As long as you don't give up, and work your butt off... you will be fine."
Well Ralph, I never gave up.
I thank you for all that you were kind enough to give me, both in wisdom and in drawings announcing that my head was perfectly round like a Quaker Oats container. (above) Thank you for everything.
Click here and here for a good idea of what Ralph did as an artist.