When I was ten my eleven year old brother Billy died. It hit my mother hard and she decided it was time for a change. She packed the eight of us up and moved us from NY to Florida. Thing was, she didn't tell Dad. After a year in Florida on our own my Dad showed up and our family was whole again but not for long. A couple of years later Mom left again but not before she convinced my Dad to take me for my first flying lesson at 14. When Mom left this time she left without the kids.

I continued to draw and Dad was right there with his suggestions. I would draw something or bring home a school project and he would show me how it could be better. And so it went with what ever I drew. Dad would show me the right way to draw it until one day, about 7th grade I came home with a pastel rendering of a bowl of fruit. That's great son but let's just, now maybe if I, ummm, hmm,... Dad never worked with color and could not duplicate or improve on what I had done. He fussed with the pastels for a couple of days and then gave up. The drawing lessons where over.

I loved art class but not school work. As it was always stated in the progress report, "It's not that he can't do the work as he's very bright, he just seems to get bored". For me, all classes were art class. I would turn in assignments with drawings all over them. Soon I was getting two grades on my school work. I'd get a C- for the assignment but an A for the artwork.

By high school I was winning or placing high in art related contests and was pretty sure a future in art was for me. Around this time Disney opened in Orlando Florida and everyone knew where I was going when I graduated from Florida's North Fort Myers High School. As it turned out, Dad had other plans and after 10th grade, he moved my brother John and I back to Centereach, NY where he married my Aunt Mary. My new high school Art teacher was Tom Knowland. Tom was more influential in my art career than anyone else in my life. He saw the potential in my work and had specific assignments for me that didn't always go along with what was happening in class.

Tom Knowland was preparing me to attend an open house at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. The pieces were for my portfolio.

11th grade projects Centereach High around 1974

I applied and won a full ride to Parsons School of Design in Manhattan but still had another year of high school to go. I took a couple of classes at Parsons over the summer and decided I couldn't go back to high school. I took a trip into the city and took my equivalency exam, passed it and headed for Parsons.

To the right is my first assignment at Parsons. On my first day in Randy Enos's Illustrator class, he had everyone in the class write a word at the top of their paper. I of course wrote airplanes. Then he told us to illustrate our word with elephants. Another instructor was Murray Tinkleman. Murray showed us cross hatching techniques and for the most part Parsons was helpful but what a lot of the other students didn't know about me was at 19, I was married and a father. I had to support a family. I parked cars after school and on weekends and sent the money home to my wife. Between work and school I got about 3 to 4 hours sleep each night, usually in one of the cars in the garage.

Each summer I would look for work and it was always the same story, "We don't care what school you go to kid, how much experience do you have?" The next Fall I had a decision to make. I decided to drop out of Parsons and get a job to gain experience. I applied at an Ad Agency called the WENK Organization. When I told the art director I wanted a job and was willing to work for nothing she accepted. At the WENK Organization I learned galley type, paste ups and mechanicals and most importantly, how to operate a stat camera.

I became the staff illustrator and did renderings for Bankstreet, Science Digest, brochures and books. I met another artist named David Cook. David was a FREE-LANCER and worked at home. When he finished a project he called a currier service to pick up and deliver the pieces along with his invoice.

About a month later, I was home with a cold when the Art Director called and said she needed a drawing done for Science Digest. It was a pencil portrait of Lewis Thomas. She had a currier on his way to drop off the reference materiel and I was to have it done by morning. My first free-lance project, working from home at my little desk in the closet. I made $50.00 sitting in my pajamas at home and knew this is how I wanted to work.

I worked for the WENK Organization for six months and when I gained enough experience, announced I was leaving to find a paying job. WENK hired me on the spot and from then on I was paid for my work.

July11th, 1980 My world came crashing down. While commuting to the city on my motorcycle a drunk driver in a very large box truck made an illegal left hand turn crossing in front of me. I hit the side of the truck at 50 m.p.h. and landed on the ground in front of the duel rear tires. The rear wheels proceeded to roll over my mid section. Needless to say I didn't make to work that day.

I broke my pelvic bones in four places and shattered my left ankle but I was still alive. It was touch and go for the first few hours. I faced the prospect of losing my left foot or never walking again without a limp. They prepped me for surgery to determine the extent of my internal injuries but held off when they X-Rays seemed to indicate no internal bleeding. Due to the extent of my injuries I was expected to be in the hospital for up to six months. As I was the only bread winner it was decided to transfer me from Brooklyn Jewish medical Center to Saint Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson Long Island near our families. Erin and our son would stay with her parents while I recovered.

28 days after the accident I left the hospital and six months after the accident I got a job at Haze Art and Design. I still have my left foot.

Science Digest Pencil Illustration 1979

Just over a year after the accident we settled the lawsuit and with the settlement, Erin and I bought a house on Long Island and I started "Superior Art". That year for Christmas everyone got Superior Art jackets. I was a freelance artist working out of my home. Now all I needed was clients. I put together a Superior Art flyer and hit the pavement.
I would do anything from drawings for ads to airbrushing vehicles and lettering boats but it didn't seem steady enough.
I met an account rep, John Galla who had the Port Jefferson Ferry, Danfords Inn and the Suffolk County National Bank as accounts. John and I teamed up on some of his projects including a television commercial for the bank. during this time I landed a new account of my own and did everything and anything, ads, graphics, flyers and boat lettering for the newly immerging HUSTLER boat company.

Assorted ink drawings 1982 -1989

Marker Comp for a cosmetic display

Somewhere in here I became partners in a sign shop and learned hand lettering as well as the new vinyl cutting machines that were making it into the graphic world. It seemed computers were everywhere now. I predicted the end of all the type setting houses. Desktop publishing was on its way.

I had Superior Art for 7 years. One day, John Galla comes over with a new project. The Suffolk County National Bank was going to send one lucky family to Disney World in Orlando and needed a flyer.

I was tasked with creating the flyer which included drawing Mickey Mouse. My first Mickey! It all came back to me, the dream of working for Disney and the seed was planted.

We sold the house and headed South.

Disney promotional piece for the Suffolk County National Bank 1988

In 1989 I moved the family to Orlando, Florida and immediately found employment with a custom, "Cut & Sew" shop. I was in charge of providing designs and separations for the sales team.  This included designs for a lot of the local surf shops, attractions like Wet N Wild, Sea World and Disney.
One of the major focuses of the shop was collegiate wear. The sales team was a separate group that wanted to focus on the local attractions and Las Vegas. They didn't feel the collegiate wear was worth pursuing and wanted to find a new manufacturer for T-Shirts.

Recognizing my talents the sales team known as Storyline Concepts offered me a partnership and we left the cut and sew shop to focus on Disney and the Casinos.

Assorted T-shirt designs 1991 - 1997

While with Storyline Concepts  I traveled coast to coast with designs for the Grand Opening of the Excalibur hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Sea World in San Diego, the Grand Opening of the new Universal Studios in Orlando Florida, Disney and a lot of other theme parks and attractions. My work for Disney was being recognized and I was approached by Disney to take on more projects and items than Storyline covered. My partners felt this was a conflict and they wouldn't allow me to do free-lance work.

I left Storyline Concepts in 1991 to start Charles Wissig Studios. I continued doing designs for the Disney Resort Division including designs with Mickey and characters.  I created product designs for the new Disney's MGM Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom park.  I created original oil paintings starting with Disney's 25th Anniversary painting of Cinderella's castle clad to look like a birthday cake.  After the 25th came paintings for Epcot's Candle Light Procession. All these paintings where made into prints and other merchandise. One painting was used for the cover of the commemorative Holiday CD voiced by Louis Gossett Jr.

For my next painting, I presented an original idea of a very real looking version of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty as a Dragon.  Disney commissioned me to go ahead with the project. "Maleficent's Fury" as the painting became known was made into prints, posters, plates, mugs, post cards, T-Shirts and magnets.  The poster which featured my name was in production for five years and occasionally still comes up for sale on line.

As computers took over the art and design aspects of Disney I found myself working more and more in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and less on drawings and paintings. I continued drawing and painting but also learned to do computer animation and 3D modeling. I became a Creative Temp for Universal Studios and developed designs for their annual Halloween Horror Nights along with assorted projects and Meet and Greets throughout the park.  I worked on Universal Studiosn Macy's Day Parade and the Mardi Gras Parades

In 1999, I was hired by Universal Studios to do product development and design for the new Islands of Adventure Theme Park.  This included art for Marvel, Jurassic Park, Dr. Seuss and assorted fantasy dragons and comic projects.

Ink on board for Disney's Animal Kingdom 1997

In 2000  I started a digital animation and web company called 4D Marketing with partner BJ Bueno.  4D Marketing created a dozen original short animations with me designing the characters, writing the stories and doing the voices.  Some of these animations included original songs and lyrics written by me.

I created 3D model designs for the Harry Potter Butter Beer cart and other carts in the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando.

 

Oil on Canvas for Universal Studios Animal Actors Show 2002

My 3D modeling skills landed me work at fabrication shops that create large theme park pieces including the new TOY STORY park in Disneyland Paris, play area's for the DISNEY DREAM cruise ship, Rapunzel's Tower and Pete's Silly Side Show Circus in the new DISNEY FANTASYLAND. I also did a lot of kiosks and carts throughout the park.  I have created a lot of window displays and Meet and Greets throughout the Disney Parks, hotels and shops.

I painted an original series of WW II Aviation art depicting actual combat missions flown by the pilots I interviewed.  I made limited edition prints from the paintings, signed by the pilots.  I wrote articles and placed ads in top aviation magazines like Air Classics and Aviation Art.  I did aviation paintings for the cover of Eric Hammel's book, "Carrier Clash".

I do storyboards and graphics for Disney's Entertainment Group and have helped develop animated presentations for clients such as Monster.com.

Currently I am working on a collection of original pieces for the Art of Disney. .

 
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