A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. - Proverbs 17:22

Monday, October 31, 2011

I just want to say hello, he -he-he-he-he....Hello Kitty (aka Kitty White)

Since I've been into illustration and children's books lately, I'm not surprised that my love for cutesy animation has resurfaced again.  Obviously, as an illustrator, artist or designer you want to think of ways to make a living doing what you love so I went the course of researching characters that I loved as a kid and made money out of my family's pocketbook.  One character always on my birthday wishlist was Hello Kitty.

But, how did the inspiration for Hello Kitty come about?

Hello Kitty was created by Yoku Shimizu for Sanrio Co, Ltd. But was Hello Kitty inspired by any one artist or character?

Working my way backwards, Dick Bruna disputed that Hello Kitty was a copycat of his creation Miffy (bunny),  a popular children's book author and illustrator in the Netherlands.  Another character created in 1945, Musti (cat), has been cited as being an influence in creating both Hello Kitty and Miffy. I personally always link most illustration back to Walt Disney and his creation of Mickey Mouse. After researching Walt Disney, I uncovered Oswald the Bunny (bunny), created in 1927. Prior to the fame surrounding Mickey Mouse, Disney was known for his animated Alice Comedies based on the Alice and Wonderland book by Lewis Carroll in 1865, and on a cat named Julius who resembled Felix the Cat.

Felix the Cat was created in 1919. After reading up on Felix the Cat on wikipedia I uncovered a silent animation of Felix the Cat in which he tries to woe a little female cat who goes by Kitty White...

Ms. Hello Kitty is also known as Kitty White, you can read the wikipedia article for that by clicking here and on Walt Disney by clicking here and for Felix the Cat by clicking here.

So why all this research on animated and illustrated characters?

The illustrator Dick Bruna expressed disapproval over Yoku Shimizu's "copying" his design to create Hello Kitty.  As human beings, I believe we are here to inspire one another, to live in community. When we view life as a competition, we see hate and disapproval in another's work. Even the Great Walt Disney gathered inspiration from another's artwork such as with Julius, his version of Felix the Cat. And Felix the Cat himself was said to have been inspired by an animation of Charlie Chaplin! Obviously, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

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