Interview With Jeff Hong: Artist Behind Unhappily Ever After Project

The world is facing many issues that are the spark for widespread debate and discussion. Issues such as global warming, pollution, gentrification,homelessness, political upheaval, homelessness, racism, obsession with plastic surgery, drug addiction, and sexism among others.

Jeff Hong, a animation storyboard artist form New York City, has taken his love of Disney and used it to create a powerful series that shows  fictional Disney  characters trying to cope, and often failing, with some of the problems mentioned. We interviewed Jeff to find out more about the project.

 Why did you decide to do this series? 

I had earlier conceived an idea of putting Disney princesses into more photographic rough urban environments, something that is completely opposite of their fairy tale world. When I finally started researching images, the idea to put Mulan into a modern day polluted Chinese city was one of the first images to really change the original context of what I had in mind. In part, the work became even more powerful and engaging and I was able to quickly realize that many other Disney characters could be used to shed light on messages that are important.
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What do you hope to achieve with this series?  

My main hope for this series is to virally spread the messages in my work using the power of the internet to garner views and hopefully change the way some people live their lives for the better of this planet. The response I have gotten throughout the world has been tremendous over the past few months since this work has been released and continues to thrive today with interest. I’m extremely happy that this isn’t something that is a flash in the pan and has had a rather lengthy life on the internet.
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What inspires you about Disney and their work?
Walt Disney has had a profound impact on my life from my childhood watching all the movies to going to Disneyland growing up in Los Angeles to influencing what I want to do in life. It became my dream to work for Walt Disney Feature Animation once the Disney renaissance began with movies such as The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. It was an accomplishment I was able to achieve very early in my life as I was hired out of high school by Walt Disney to work on their movies starting with Hercules and continuing for four years on Mulan, Tarzan and the Emperor’s New Groove. As an animation artist, I was extremely influenced by early Disney artists such as Freddie Moore, Mary Blair and the famed animators known as the Nine Old Men such as Milt Kahl, Ollie Johnston, Marc Davis and Frank Thomas. I am extremely proud of my years working there and continue to be a big fan of their movies including all the Pixar films.
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And why did you decide to use them in this series?  
Disney characters are some of the most recognizable cartoons in the world, I wanted to use the emotional connection we all have with these characters to really bring to light some of the more serious issues we face living in this world from animal welfare to social and environmental issues. These are all extremely important to me and something I really want someone to give pause and think about about one’s actions in daily life.
Finally, do you have any more images planned?   
The series will continue as long as new strong ideas come to me. For the most part I’ve been trying to do one for every major Disney movie, but finding social messages to impart that are relevant to my ideals and ethics to specific movies gets harder as I make my way through all the Disney movies.




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