It is only in recent years, with the increased study of the animation art form, that the skill of the background artist has been celebrated. Far more than a simple backdrop for character action, the creation of a good background involves the combination of several talents-staging, color styling, and lighting-while maintaining a “visual anonymity” with the viewing audience. Disney has had several superstar background artists: Sam Armstrong, Maurice Noble, Claude Coats, Walt Peregoy, Ralph Hulett, Thelma Witmer, Eyvind Earle, Frank Armitage-and Al Dempster.
Albert Taylor Dempster was born in 1911 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He studied for four and a half years at the Art Center School in downtown Los Angeles, shortly after that institution’s founding. Al joined the staff of the Disney Studio on Hyperion Avenue as a Layout Trainee in March 1939, and within a few months transferred to the Background Department.
It was here over the next several years that Al contributed… read more