Creative Intelligence of Walt Disney

Creative Intelligence of Walt Disney
Creative intelligence comes in many different forms, with makers and masters leading the way. Walt Disney was both a maker and a master of visual/spatial intelligence. Our class and creativity experts have agreed that if something is creative then it has to be novel and of high quality. Walt Disney?s artwork and animation certainly were. For example, he produced the first full-length animated musical feature film and the first full-color television programming, among other things (?Walt??).
Walt Disney has been a huge part of my limited artistic life. I wish I had even a hundredth of his talent! But unfortunately I hate doing arts and crafts and have no talent or patience for them. So Walt Disney is not a model for what I want to do with my life. But I do enjoy art for entertainment, especially cartoons, and greatly admire Walt Disney for his creative genius. He not only created and drew Mickey Mouse, but he also did his voice. It amazes me how someone could be that good at art. Not only does his work have great aesthetic beauty but it also invokes great emotion too. In grade school I hated art class but any art projects that could possibly be influenced by his works were because I love his animation. My favorite movies were always Walt Disney Pictures, especially the animated ones. His animation seems so real it is almost like you can become a part of it. And because my family and I go to Walt Disney World every year I have grown up experiencing his works in real life and have enjoyed every minute of it. No matter how many times I see a work it is always as enjoyable as the first time I saw it, if not more so. I could never grow tired of a work by Walt Disney. I know I will enjoy his creations even when I am an old lady.

Relation between the Child and the Adult Creator:

Walt Disney showed very early interests in art and drawing. By the age of seven Walt would sell his drawings and small sketches to his neighbors to make some extra money. One interesting story about his creativity that I come across every time I write a paper about Walt Disney is when Walt convinced his sister Ruth to help him paint the side of their house with tar. Walt would doodle pictures of animals and nature instead of doing school work. He studied drawing and photography at McKinley High School in Chicago and at the same time attended the Academy of Fine Arts at night to better his drawing ability. He joined the Red Cross during the First World War because he was too young to enlist. He became an ambulance driver and completely covered the ambulance in his cartoons (?Walt??).

Relation between the Creator and Others:

Walt Disney was a very enjoyable man to be around. He got along great with his family and was good friends with his older brother Roy. Roy and their mom encouraged his artistic talent and he and Roy started a production company together in Hollywood. Roy was not only his business partner but also his greatest encourager and supporter. They were close to their parents and in 1938 bought them a house close to their studio in Hollywood. Unfortunately, less than a month later a faulty furnace in the new home caused their mother to die of asphyxiation. This left Walt with a terrible guilt that haunted him for the rest of his life (?Walt??).

Walt became a loving husband to Lillian Bounds on July 13, 1925. She was one of his first employees and came up with the name Mickey because she did not like Mortimer. He and Lillian had two daughters, Diane and Sharon, and he preferred to stay home and eat dinner with his family instead of socializing. He was always there for his family and would never miss ?a father?s function? for his daughters, preferring to be involved in their lives (?Walt??).

Relation between the Creator and His Work:

Walt Disney first became involved with his field after he returned from participating in the war effort in France. He tried to start a commercial art career but went bankrupt before he had any big success. The company did allow him to experiment with animation though and so he decided to move to Hollywood to start an animation production company with his brother Roy (?Walt??).

Three years after Walt?s marriage to Lillian, Steamboat Willie was released in New York. This was Mickey Mouse?s screen debut. Walt was the only one allowed to make color cartoons for two years because he held the patent for Technicolor. His first Academy Award came in 1932 with the production of Flowers and Trees. This led to the event on December 21, 1937 which truly made him a maker: the production of the first full-length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His continued work and innovations made him a master of animation as well (?Walt??).

Not only did Walt Disney want people to be able to watch his animation but he also wanted people to be able to really experience his work. His dream for an amusement park came true when Disneyland opened in 1955. Walt Disney World, although opened after his death, also helped to realize this dream (?Walt??).

Cognitive Issues:

Walt Disney had a unique ability to see the entire picture. He was obviously extremely intelligent in the visual/spatial realm, but interpersonal intelligence was also another one of his strong points. He needed to be able to communicate with the public to please them and determine what they expected or wanted. He had a knack for acting and performing. He also had a whole company and team of animators to successfully control (?Walt??). Some pictures accurately reveal aspects of Walt Disney?s interpersonal intelligence. Gardner points out that creators are often creative in more than just their one dominant realm (Gardner 363). Walt certainly was and used many of the creative intelligences in producing his animation, including the linguistic, musical, and nature intelligences in producing his varied types of works. To see an animated Walt Disney demonstrating some of these intelligences in front of a storyboard click here.

Personality and Motivational Issues:

Walt Disney was a lovable man who everyone adored. You can probably tell why when you see his charming smile in these photographs. He was a great family man and showed his love to people by being interested in their lives. He rarely showed emotion but was affectionate and understanding. He could have a bit of a temper though at times (?Walt??).

Walt was intrinsically motivated because art was his passion from a very young age. He wanted to entertain people and was excellent at it. He was always telling stories that held people enraptured for hours. But even more important to him than entertainment was education and nature. Walt wanted to educate the public on the importance of preserving nature and improving the quality of life for the future. He also wanted to provide a place for the talent of the future to be developed. He accomplished these things by producing the award-winning True-Life Adventure series which emphasized the importance of wild animals and conserving nature, developing an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) at Walt Disney World, and establishing the California Institute of the Arts (?Walt??).

Walt Disney could be so motivated and successful because he was not afraid of failure. He failed many times before getting his big break but always bounced back. He risked everything several times in his life but fortunately always came out on top (?Walt??).

Social-Psychological Issues:

Walt Disney would listen to other people?s opinions, especially his wife?s, as evidenced by Mickey Mouse?s name. Lillian greatly supported his work and helped him conceive ideas. She was even employed by him. His older brother Roy obviously supported him since he was a part of his company from the very beginning. Other people were a sounding board for Walt and he used them to determine what would be well-received by the public (?Walt??).

Life Patterns:

Walt Disney was pretty much always successful because he was involved in so many aspects of the art entertainment industry. I do not really see the ten year pattern in his achievements. His first success came around 1923 with the Alice in Cartoonland featurettes in New York. His successes with Mickey Mouse began in 1928 and 1932 was when he received his first Academy Award. 1937 was full of success; he was the first to use the multi-plane camera technique and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released. In 1940 the new Burbank Studio opened and the number of staff members soared. In 1945 he combined animation with live action for the musical The Three Caballeros. The Mickey Mouse Club was a very popular television show produced by him in the 1950s. 1955 was when Disneyland opened. In 1961 he was one of the first to present full-color television programming and the California Institute of the Arts was founded, with which he was greatly involved. Right before Walt Disney?s death on December 15, 1966 he developed the idea for EPCOT (?Walt??).

Domain Level:

Walt Disney was the leader of his domain from the time he first entered until his death. He constantly introduced new inventions into the animation field and had his own creative process. He would clearly see every part of a story in his mind, feel every reaction and expression, and then take a second look at it to make sure it was complete. This required a great deal of visual/spatial intelligence (Dilts).

Field Level:

Because Walt Disney was the leader in animation, other people would try to steal his ideas. His rights to the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons were taken from him by the distributor Charles Mintz, causing him to create Mickey Mouse (?Cartoons??).

I did not find any censorship or political controversy of Walt Disney?s works. His work was intended to help the public and was happily received. In fact, during World War II ninety-four percent of his facilities were used for special government work. For the armed services he produced training and propaganda films. Today the U.S. State Department still shows his health films throughout the world. The other six percent of his facilities were used for comedic subjects, which were ?deemed highly essential to civilian and military morale? (?Walt??).


Walt Disney fits Gardner?s model pretty well. He was creative in more than one intelligence and followed Gardner?s triad as well as any of the creators in Gardner?s book. His creative process was actually extremely similar to Albert Einstein?s. Both men used highly visual and physical fantasies to make their discoveries.

Walt Disney?s forty-three-year career in animation was full of creative successes. Art entertainment was completely different by the time Walt died in 1966 from when he was born on December 5, 1901 (?Walt??). This was because of the ?number of important technical and organizational innovations in the fields of animation and film-making? that he was responsible for (Dilts).

Genius is ?the ability to take something that exists in the imagination only and forge it into a physical existence that directly influences the experience of others in a positive way? (Dilts). Well no one was better at doing that in animation than Walt Disney. He truly was both a maker and a master of his domain.

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