They Drew As They Pleased The Hidden Art of Disney’s Golden Age The 1930s

They Drew As They Pleased The Hidden Art of Disney’s Golden Age The 1930s


They Drew As They Pleased The Hidden Art of Disney’s Golden Age – The 1930s is the first volume in a series of 6 books about inspirational art, storyboards and character designs that were made for Disney animation.

They Drew as They Pleased series is written by Didier Ghez who has written several books about Disney art. Each book of the series has a forward by a Disney artist. In this volume Pete Doctor wrote the foreword. The book was published in 2015 by Chronicle books. And it has 208 pages. It is a hardcover with a dustcover.

Didier Ghez

This series of books shows art that has never been seen before. Didier Ghez visited families of the Disney artists that worked in the Story department and discovered art that has not be seen for seventy years. Also a lot correspondences and letters that shine a new light on how and for what projects the art was created. That makes this collections of books unique.

They Drew as They Pleased

I love this book the most out of the series, because I love the early work of Disney Animation. All the books in this series are setup in the same manner. An introduction by a contemporary Disney or Pixar artist. Short biographies about the featured artists. And a lot of samples of art. Walt Disney Studios has the best and biggest achieve of all the art that has been made for animation. That is why so many books with never seen art can be published.

Cover They Drew As They Pleased The Hidden Art of Disney’s Golden Age The 1930s

They Drew As They Pleased The Hidden Art of Disney’s Golden Age – The 1930s shows art that was made in the thirties. Walt Disney attracted fine artists to work at the Disney Studio. In this book 4 Disney artists are featured who defined the style of Disney Animation:
Albert Hurter, Ferdinand Hervath, Gustaf Tenggren and Bianca Majolie. In the thirties there was a great depression. This is why Walt Disney could get the best artists around. Some of them came from Europe. That is why Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs looks like a European Children’s book illustration.


Albert Hurter

Albert Hurter concepts Pinocchio

Albert Hurter was the first  concept artist at the studio. He was born in Zurich, Germany in 1883 and moved to the United States in 1914. That year he started working at the Barré-Bowers studio in New York. In 1925 he moved to California and worked as a freelance artist for severalHollywood producers. In 1931 he started working at the Disney Studios. He was hired by Ted Sears he knew him from the Barré-Bowers studio. He first was hired as an animator and started working on animation for the Silly Symphonies. After animating 8 shorts he was hired as a storyboard artist at Disney’s Story Department. Each time a new subject was planned Hurter was consulted and given free reign to let his imagination wander and design strange animals, plants, scenery or costumes. He started to draw as he pleased. He would draw gags and ideas for The Silly Symphonies  but also Mickey Mouse shorts. Here are some drawings for the short Babe in the Woods from 1932. Just look at the witch. It looks a lot like the witch from Snow White. When the studio started production on Snow White Hurter was supervising artist for the interior and exterior of the Dwarfs cottage. For Pinocchio he designed a lot of the clocks in Gepetto’s workshop. He also worked on art for Fantasia and Dumboi. In 1942 he died at the age of 59. Seven years later Simon & Schuster published  a collection of his drawings with the title He Drew as He Pleased. The author of the book, Didier Ghez, got inspiration from this title and named this book series ‘They Drew As They Pleased.  I searched on the internet for the original book from 1948 and you can still buy it second hand. Someone also made scans of the book and made a PDF from the book you can download for free.

You can download a PDF on this site:

Ferdinand Horvath

Ferdinand Horvath concepts Walt Disney Studios

What I love about this book series is that you can discover art by Disney artists you have never heard of, or have not been featured much in other books. A big surprise and discovery is the art of Ferdinand Horvath. He was born in Budapest Hungery in 1891. He joined the army in 1917 and fought against the Russians in the first World War. He was wounded and captured  by the Russians. After two years he escaped the prison. He also wrote a novel about it called Captured.

In 1921 he arrived in New York and started working at Paul Terry’s Fable Studios. He produced 200 animation drawings a day. Another animator that worked at the studio was Norman Ferguson.  He started working at the Disney Studios. In 1932 Ferdinand wrote a letter to Walt Disney and a year later he started working at the studios. He had a trial period of six months. First he worked on promotional art for posters. But he also worked on backgrounds for the shorts The Cookie Carnaval and The Band Concert. The trial only lasted six months. Horvath wanted to work at the Story Department and wanted a higher salary. Disney could not offer him a higher salary so he started working at the Warner Brother’s animation department. Warner Brother’s released a film about a German soldier that was captured. The film was called Captured and was a rip off from his book. He sued Warner Brother’s to no avail. He was out of a job, so he wrote to Walt Disney again for a job. Disney hired him again and Horvath started working in the Story Department. He worked on ideas and gags for Silly Symphonies shorts and also on Snow White. He worked on and off at Disney. He had some falling outs with Disney and was fired several times. In 1937 he was fired for good. But the art he made at Disney is astounding, A very unique and quirky style. Other than Albert Hurter Horvath would make very detailed illustrations in the hope his ideas would end up on screen. 

Gustaf Tenggren

Gustav Tenggren Inspiratinal art for little Hiawhata

Gustaf Tenggren was born in Sweden in 1896. He became a renowned illustrator of Swedish folklore stories. In 1920 he moved to New York and worked as an illustrator for Children’s books and advertising.  He soon made covers for magazines like Life Magazine, Cosmopolitan and the Saturday Evening Post. By 1936 Walt Disney had the biggest challenge by finishing his first feature length animated movie. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  1936 he was hired by Walt Disney to work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In that year Tenggren received an interesting job offer from Walt Disney he could not refuse. He started to work on the layouts ,color designs and backgrounds. The whole style of the movie was already layed out by Albert Hurter but, his talent was so obvious that several departments wanted him to work for them. By the end of 1936 Tenggren got a contract for three years with a salary of $ 200 a week. That was a lot of money in those days. He designed the poster for Snowwhite. He also worked on Silly Symphonies like Moth and the Flames, Little Hiawatha and The Old Mill.  Here are some concepts he made for The Old Mill. This movie was used to test a lot of techniques for Snow White. For Pinocchio he became the main designer. He made elaborate drawings of the town and could incorporate his European heritage. He also worked on concepts  for Fantasia’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice. For Bambi he made beautiful and detailed art. But Disney decided to use the art of Tyros Wong instead. Tenggren was very upset and left the studio.


Bianca Majolie

Bianca Majolie Fantasia art

Bianca Majolie was the first women to start working at the Story Department. She was born in Rome, Italy in 1900 as Bianca Maggioli. The family moved to  Chicago and aFrench teacher changed her name to Blance Majolie at McKinley High School. The same school Walt Disney attended. Majolie later studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago And two other art schools in New York. She first started working freelance for fashion magazines and in 1934 she wrote a letter to Walt Disney. In 1935 she was hired to work at the Story Department. It was hard for a woman to work with only men around, that would swear and be very competitive. Walt Disney changed her name to Bianca. She closely worked together with Gustav Tenggren and Ferdinand Horvath on concepts for a short called Belles de Fleures. But the short was never made.  She also made wonderful concept drawings for a Silly Symphony called Japanese Symphony. But the short was also shelved. Walt Disney could be  a very harsh critique and tore apart some storyboards Majolie made. After the meeting she got a nervous breakdown. After a few months she was working again. Majolie also made concept drawings for ‘The Suger Plum Fairy’ sequence for Fantasia. And some early designs of Tinker Bell for Peter Pan and some early concepts for Cinderella. In 1940 she left the studios and continued to work on her own art.


This book is available on Amazon. Here are some affiliate links to different Amazon stores. When you click on them and buy the book, I will get a small percentage of the sale. It does not cost you extra.

I have made reviews about the other five books in the series. You can find them here:

Volume 2: They Drew as They Pleased The Hidden Art of Disney’s Musical Years (The 1940s) Part 1

Volume 3: They Drew as They Pleased The Hidden Art of Disney’s Late Golden Age The 1940s – Part 2

Volume 4: They Drew as they Pleased. The Hidden Art of Disney’s Mid-Century Era the 1950s and 1960s