Art newsCulture

Walt Disney concept designer Hany al-Masry dies at 64

After a long struggle with leukemia, famous artist Hany al-Masry passed away on Monday, at the age of 64. Masry was the first Egyptian to work as a concept and show designer for Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI).
As a boy, Masry went to Cairo Jesuit School and later graduated from Cairo University’s school of Fine Arts.  
After graduation, he worked as a set designer for several famous Egyptian plays, including “Isis”, “Al-Eyal Kebret”, “Enaha 7akan 3aela Mohtarama” and “Shahed Ma Shafsh Haga”. He is also the creator of the “Kimo” character, which is a cartoon mascot for Nestle's ice cream products.

In speech attended by Egypt Independent in 2014, Masry discussed the many challenges throughout his life, including his separation from his wife. He learned that despite his hardships, dreams can come true with God's support and persistence.
Masry traveled to the United States in 1987 when he was in his mid-30s. While there, he freelanced for a Kuwaiti magazine, as he was unable to find a job locally. “I knocked on all doors, but unfortunately I was never accepted in any position,” he said.                                                                  
Being unemployed was a heavy burden for Masry as he needed to support his family. He eventually accepted a job as a designer for a factory where he created designs on tea cups, something he believed was below his skill level, but was a necessary move. 
“My journey with Walt Disney went through many upheavals,” Masry said. “It started when I found an advertisement saying that WDI is recruiting an illustrator. I sent my CV and my portfolio and after a while, I received a letter in the mail saying my work is good, but that I was not being considered for the position.”
“I phoned the company and talked to the person whose name was at the bottom of the letter,” he added. “She told me that my work is good, but that there were no designs for Walt Disney characters. Later on, I did what she told me to do in a professional way. I was accepted, but the art director rejected me because he promised his friend the job.”
For Masry, the experience was painful, but he did not lose hope, especially knowing that the WDI art director liked his worked, something Masry considered a “good omen”. 
“I kept following my dreams until I was officially hired at WDI in 1990,” he revealed with a smile across his face. During that time, he was responsible for building the 'houses' of a number of Disney characters, including Minnie and Goofy.
Masry was later hired by DreamWorks, a studio that belongs to well-known director Steven Spielberg, to work on the animated feature “Prince of Egypt”. Two animation movies, “Spiri” and “El Dorad”, soon followed.
In 2005, Masry returned to Egypt and began helping young talented artists develop their own work, especially youth who had lost hope and wanted to leave the country. 
He hoped to one day start a new project in Aswan, where he would invite local and international artists to share their experiences. “Maybe this project will become an academy for arts to teach Nubians one day,” he said.
The artist believed that Egypt's animation industry is developing slowly because of lack of qualified education and a lack of team spirit.
Masry will be remembered for trail blazing his way into animation for future Egyptians. He taught everyone that dreams can be fulfilled with talent and perseverance.

Related Articles

Back to top button