In 1960, Charles Boyer accepted a “temporary” job at Disneyland—and stayed for 39 years. Charles has the unique distinction of having been Disneyland’s first full-time artist, and in the 45 years since his hiring has become Disneyland’s master illustrator. He has captured in his work the unique and fanciful spirit of Disney characters and theme park environments.
Charles’s art training began with art classes in high school, where he nurtured a love for the beautiful desert landscape. As a teenager, he won first place at the Imperial Valley County Fair and developed a passion for the work of Vincent Van Gogh.
Soon after, he enrolled in courses at Chouinard Art Institute. He received a “working scholarship,” performing double duty as the janitor while attending classes as an art student. Classes in design and cartooning convinced Charles to consider a commercial art career as an alternative to fine arts.
Charles thought of furthering his art studies abroad, however, his wife did not want to leave the United States. Instead, he found a job at Disneyland as a pastel artist creating guest portraits.
“I thought it would be fun,” he later recalled, “and a good fill-in between jobs.” It proved to be only the beginning of his long career with Disney.
Six months later, he joined the marketing and advertising art department as an illustrator. “We did everything—design, production, illustration,” Charles said.
During his 39 years with Disneyland, Charles produced nearly 50 collectible lithographs, as well as a diverse range of artwork for magazine covers, brochures, and flyers—even Company-commissioned oil portraits for retiring employees. He worked in all media including pastels, oils, watercolors, gouache, acrylics, pencil, and ink. Prolific in his work, Charles’s works are sought after by collectors around the world.
On his retirement in 1999, the artist reflected, “I’ve worked with such great people. My wife used to ask if I was actually getting any work done, because I was having so much fun.”