Q&A with Our Disneyland Cover Artist Drake Brodahl


The background illustrator for Disney TV Animation who has been featured at Downtown Disney’s WonderGround Gallery sat down with us to discuss his process, style, and inspiration.

What’s your background?
I grew up in a small town in Idaho and I worked in graphic design for 10 years, mostly in Seattle, before moving to Southern California to pursue animation. At a certain point I realized that animation spoke more to my illustration and fine art roots. Before Disney, I worked for studios such as Warner Brothers and Nickelodeon.

Describe your artistic style.BB8_Cover_CMYK
My style holds onto some of my graphic design tendencies. It’s a flat, cartoony style and I rely heavily on nostalgia. I draw inspiration from modern art, nature, and midcentury Little Golden Books. Illustrators of the ’50s and ’60s were able to synthesize complex shapes in to simple ones and I always found that appealing.

What sort of reaction do you hope to elicit with your work?
If I can get people to smile or laugh then I feel like I’ve done my job. I’m not necessarily trying to have a deep underlying theme.

What’s your relationship with WonderGround Gallery?
I was an artist in residence there a few times. Basically you set up shop there for a month and do a couple of live painting sessions. Most of the art isn’t Disney related, it’s just my personal work. It’s a chance to have my work seen by a bunch of people who normally wouldn’t see it.

How did your BB-8 design for the cover come to fruition?
It came together really quickly. I was pitched the idea of having one of the “Star Wars” characters with Mickey ears and I thought it was a fun idea. I usually work on paper, but because of the quick turnaround time I realized the concept digitally. I wanted to be accurate in my portrayal of the character but also give it a bit of a style twist. I wanted him to look lively so that’s how I came up with the color scheme. I engulfed him in orange and had the up lighting around him to give him some warmth and character. But he’s already really cute and fun so that made my job pretty easy.

Are you a “Star Wars” fan?
I’ve been a fan for a long time and one of the first movies I saw in theaters was “The Empire Strikes Back.” And I can’t wait to continue the tradition with my son who is six years old.


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