MASTER CLASS—81-year-old Disney animator Floyd Norman, subject of the film, “An Animated Life,” teaches a master class to Point Park animation students at the Media Innovation Center. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

MASTER CLASS—81-year-old Disney animator Floyd Norman, subject of the film, “An Animated Life,” teaches a master class to Point Park animation students at the Media Innovation Center. (Photo by J.L. Martello)


While walking toward Liberty Avenue to see the Toonseum—Pittsburgh’s museum of cartoon art—Floyd Norman said he tries to visit such places whenever he can.

“I like to visit them because sometimes you come across a hidden treasure,” he said.

Outside of the movie industry, Norman—an award-winning animator who in 1956 was the first such Black artist hired at Walt Disney Studios—was pretty much a hidden treasure himself until filmmakers Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey released “Floyd Norman: An Animated Life” earlier this year.

Norman was at Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation, Nov. 12, for a screening of the film, and to pass along some of his knowledge and experience during a master class for animation students and a beginner’s class for students and the public.

“It’s fun talking to the students, and I travel to do it quite a bit—across California, in New Orleans, New York City. This year has been very busy, more so because of the film,” he said.

“I think they know the basics, and I let them know about the business. But they are passionate. They want to be animators and film makers, and I try to share what I’ve learned to help them realize those dreams.”

Fresh out of art school at the tender age of 21, the California native became the first African American artist hired at Disney, and after having worked on such classics as “Sleeping Beauty,” “101 Dalmatians” and “The Jungle Book”—and being retired, twice—he is still there.

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