Thursday, October 22, 2009

Discover Hani El Masri, wonderful Designer, Illustrator, and former WDI Imagineer

Today, i would like to introduce to you Hani El Masri. Not only Hani is a highly talented designer and illustrator, but he was a WDI imagineer some years ago and did creative concept for many WDI projects.

Hani is Egyptian, but he was raised by French Jesuits in Cairo. Thanks to this, he spent most of his childhood reading european literature, and so, at the surprise of others WDI imagineers, he was familiar with the world of European tales, myths and architecture.

And, as an Egyptian, and after five years of academic studies at Cairo's school of Fine Arts - the oldest in the Middle East - he is of course also familiar with Oriental tales like the famous tale of "One thousand and one nights". So, it's naturally that in the mid 90's Walt Disney Imagineering asked for his help on the design of Tokyo Disney Sea's Arabian Coast.

In fact, Hani, it's more than twenty-five years of an award-winning creative career in illustration, graphic design, advertising and promotion of an unusually broad array of consumer products, as well as children's books and theater productions.

He arrived to the United States in 1987 and freelanced until being hired by Walt Disney Imagineering in March of 1990. We will have a look to his work for Walt Disney Imagineering, but while he was in California, Hani did some beautiful watercolor paintings like this one of Los Angeles Chinatown - picture above, on the top - who look also like a decor study for a Disney theme park...

Or this one of the San Juan Capistrano mission. By the way, this reminds me that San Juan Capistrano was part of the inspiration for some of the Zorro series decors...

In 1995 Hani was hired as a visual development artist by Dreamworks SKG - Steven Spielberg's studio - to work on the animated "Prince of Egypt", and stayed on for another two animation movies "El Dorado" and "Spirit". The September 11 attack was devastating for Hani, as he always dreamed of being a cultural bridge between Orient and Occident and thought his work on the 'Thousand And One Nights' could be of some help in this dream...
He then came back to live and work in Egypt in February of 2005 and was awarded Best Egyptian illustrator of 2004 by the National Council for Children Books, headed by Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, Egypt First Lady, in may 2005.

At walt Disney Imagineering, Hani, as i've said, worked on many different projects, whether it was the Blizzard Beach concept - here two concept study for the Summit Plummet chalet and the Merchandise shop.

Or these boat concepts for Tokyo Disney Sea....

Not to mention this beautiful Nautilus artifact who was supposed to be placed outside on TDS Mysterious Island. The imagineers idea was that, when a guest will use the telescope to look at other places of the park, a green laser ray coming out of the telescope would have point the place the guest was looking at. Great idea, unfortunately never realized.

For Tokyo Disneyland, Hani - and it was one of his first work for WDI - did the concept-art for the Grandma Sarah Restaurant located in Critter Country.
He did also amazing concepts of "Critter Cars" that Tokyo disneyland wanted to use as photo-ops in the land. The first rendering below was inspired by the shape of an old Rolls Royce - totally transformed in a vehicle you will only see in a Disney theme park!

Hani also worked on the Disneyland Toon Town project and ended up designing Minnie's House and Goofy's Bounce House, and here is the concept for his Goofy's house...

And pictures of the model that was done inspired by Hani's concept art

This color rendering was Hani's concept for Minnie's house...

Here are the preliminary black and white study for Minnie's house

And, too, pictures of the model inspired by the concept arts

But there is much more to say about Hani's work for Toon Town... And this is why i invite you to don't miss tomorrow's part two of this article, as you will discover something you've never seen before!

Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat

All Artwork by Hani El Masri and copyright Disney and Walt Disney Enterprises Inc.

Many thanks to Hani El Masri for his great help in the making of this article.


DisWedWay said...

Love Hani's San Juan Capistrano watercolors with all the organic as well architectural details and colorpalette on his Mickey's Toontown themed environments. I would love to look through his TDS telescope as would Mr Verne, I'm sure. There's plenty to admire at TDS. Hope to see more of his exceptional work on future Disney adventures.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I really love Hani's illustrations. They have a strong sense of signature style. Are the Mickey and Minnie Houses in WDW designed by Hani?
I went to Egypt in 2007. It was my favorite vacation. The people are wonderful, kind and friendly.
I look foward to part 2 of this post.

Rita | Creative Graphic Design said...

Great set of photos. I am now a fan of Hani, all of the concept arts and finished products featured are truly magnificent.

DisWedWay said...

I would love to see Hani do a "Hunchback Village". His style lends itself to it.