I just finished Walt Disney’s biography entitled Walt Disney: An American Original and thought I would share some of my thoughts on what I got out of the book. I am a very big Disney fan, probably because I am very much still a kid at heart. I still love to watch cartoons, read fairy tales, and if it were up to me every year I would visit Disney World during my summer vacation. Because I grew up loving art as well, for a long time I wanted to work for Disney as an artist. In fact, when I visited Disney World a few summers ago I got to take an art class in one of the parks and it was a dream come true. It is impossible for me to watch a Disney film, see one of their cartoons, or visit one of their parks without feeling inspired to create. After seeing the movie Saving Mr. Banks which came out earlier this year and getting to see a glimpse of what Walt Disney was actually like, I decided to read his biography.
I am not going to go into a lot of detail reviewing Walt Disney’s biography but instead like to touch on one particular thing I learned about the man instead. I, probably like a lot of people, just assumed that by the time Disney was creating the first Disneyland that the company was a financial success. I just figured the company was doing so well, making so many millions, that they could afford to build their own amusement park.This wasn’t necessarily true however. Disney movies did well but not well enough to continually support the making of new movies. In order to keep producing new movies Disney had to continually borrow money. In fact, the Disney company did not have all of their debts finally paid off until somewhere around the lines of 10 years after Disneyland was opened. Disneyland itself was a huge gamble, if it hadn’t of succeeded the whole company probably would have gone under.
So why did then Walt Disney decided to create an amusement park? Why did Disney continue to make big expensive movies that they couldn’t afford to pay for themselves. The answer was because Walt Disney had a philosophy that said creating good products was more important than making money. Walt Disney didn’t care about making money as much as he cared about making people happy with his movies and his amusement parks. He followed the philosophy of “Do what you love and do it well and the money will follow”. He was a true artist and like all great artist he knew all that mattered was making good art.
This got my attention because I had noticed the same thing when I read Steve Jobs biography. Steve Jobs, like Walt Disney, was more focused on making something great, something that people would love, then he ever was on making money. I think this is a lesson that many young artist need to understand and learn. Creating art is not about making money, its about creating art. If you love what you do and you continue to learn and grow as an artist then you will eventually create good art. If people see that you are passionate about what you are creating and giving to the world then your passion will spread. You need to care more about what you are giving with your art than what you are getting from it. This is something both Walt Disney and Steve Jobs understood and they started what are today two of the biggest companies in the world.