In 2018, Mickey celebrated his 90th birthday. In collaboration with Disney France and Quai 36, I had the pleasure to be asked to make the iconic mouse my own. The work adorned the walls of Bordeaux, with over 30 Mickeys hiding in the city. The same event, with other local artists, took place in Paris, Lyon and Marseille, and the most active city in the Mickey hunting, measured via hashtags on social media, won an exclusive Disney event to celebrate even more the birthday. And mine won :)
In 2014, I had a dream where I could immerse my hands inside the screen of an old B&W TV, tweaking the body of a poor Steamboat Willie-era Mickey, eventually turning him into a kind of centaur freak. Reflecting on the character's legendary status and how many transformations he had gone through all these years, I wanted to keep that ever-changing vibe from the dream, mixing it with the night magic of Fantasia on the way. The first concept you can see below was deemed too abstract, obviously, as people had to recognize him from far away.
I kept the dreamy, surreal, Fantasia-infused setting from the initial sketch, took the iconic "hands behind the back pose" and transformed its tail into a self-introducing giant hand.
The result, "Essence M", was a more defined Mickey, yet retaining the essence of change from the old dream, embodying almost a century of countless iterations and re-designs of Disney's mascot. After discovering Bordeaux had very scarce vertical format ads, I had to a last minute wider version, adding a good amount of background.
In the background, amidst the mountains and clouds, you can hunt for pareidolia nods to the old friends of Mickey. I added 2 suggestive shapes for characters linked to the origins of the icon forthe wider version: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, of which Mickey is kind of a reincarnation, and Flip the Frog, who is a Disney character, but one that Mickey's original designer, Ub Iwerks, took with him when leaving Disney.
Yours truly, happily and awkwardly unrolling the 158cm tall art print that went to Disney France, in front of a local weird being that is called an influencer.
And thus, the hunt began!
And a year later, I had another opportunity with Disney US / World to give Goofy the surreal magic treatment.