Inspiration Friday: Herbert Ryman's Disney Concept Art

by Nicole Hodsdon

Inspiration Friday: Herbert Ryman's Disney Concept Art


I first learned about Herbert D. Ryman (1910-1989) while on vacation in Walt Disney World, and his art has been inspiring me ever since.  He was both a commercial and a fine artist who had an insatiable need to sketch the world around him and bring fantastic ideas to life through pen, ink, watercolor, and oil.  His work as a Disney concept artist set the tone for every Disney theme park until he died in 1989.  

Herbert Ryman

Herbert Ryman at Work (Photo:


“My own dream of happiness would be to live in every spot on our globe. To see and study and record and most of all, to understand. And to pass on in some tangible form a fragment of that enthusiasm and love.” –Herbert D. Ryman

His concept paintings were the first blueprint for Disney Imagineers to create their trademark fun-filled parks which transport guests into different worlds in time and space.  The story goes that he simply sat d own at his drawing table and drew as Walt Disney described to him his dream for a fresh and clean version of the creepy, run-down amusement parks of the day.  The ease in his style, the whimsy of the lines, the tones of the bold colors, and the composition all combine to give the viewer a sense of “what’s next, what’s around the corner?” - just like you feel in the parks themselves.

EPCOT Center


“Be inordinately infatuated with the world—its people, its history, and geography. Let your eyes speak to your heart and your heart to your hand.” –Herbert D. Ryman

Ryman’s extraordinary talent was in his ability to take ideas that resided in the excited mess of the mind and extract their essence into inspiring concept art.  His original concept drawing for Disneyland is what earned Disney the financial backing to continue the project and bring it into fruition.  Without Ryman's ability to put beautiful ideas on paper, we may never have seen Walt Disney’s true vision for his parks come into reality.

Disneyland Schematic

Disneyland Schematic (Photo:


Ryman’s concept art continues to be referenced by Disney imagineers, and they use it to inspire updates to the parks even today.  Take a look at some more of his artwork below and let it inspire you to create a more beautiful tomorrow.

American Adventure Concept

American Adventure, concept painting, Epcot, 1979 (Photo:

Horizons Concept

Horizons Building Concept (Photo:

The Land Pavilion Concept

The Land Pavilion Concept (Photo:

Tokyo Disneyland Concept

Central Plaza Concept Art, Tokyo Disneyland (Photo:

Herbert Ryman Epcot Concept

EPCOT Center Concept (Photo: Insights and Sounds)

Nicole Hodsdon
Nicole Hodsdon