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SATURDAY SIX Presents: The Theme Park Artwork of Hayden Evans

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This week the SATURDAY SIX Proudly Presents: The Theme Park Artwork of Hayden EvansTo coincide with Disney’s Festival of the Arts, each February the SATURDAY SIX spotlights four artists in the theme park community. Last year we began this annual tradition with features on Sam CarterBrian Cooper@SonderQuest, and Sterling Denham. We kicked this year’s event by featuring the artwork of Rob Yeo, followed up with Ava Buric, and last week looked at Jess Siswick‘s brilliant mashups of Disney and Broadway. Today we finish Year Two of this fine series with a look at Hayden Evans and we just may be joined by a few surprise guests along the way…

Hayden Evans: Being asked by Derek to participate in this “Artist Spotlight” when all the artists he’s featured thus far are some of the most monumentally talented artists feels like I’ve been given a seat at the cool kid’s table. I’m honored, flattered, and just beyond thrilled to be a part of this series, and look forward to “pulling the curtain” back on my art, my process, my inspiration.

I feel like I’m talking to my people here! Theme park fans that just get what I’m talking about, that understand why someone like Rolly Crump or something like a fountain at Knott’s Berry Farm would be so creatively inspirational.

By way of introduction… Hi! I’m Hayden. I’m from Idaho, originally; a small town called Rexburg, situated right in the shadows of the Grand Tetons. Moved to Southern California in 2015 to continue my degree in Illustration, and begin realizing my “California Dream.” I know my story is very much a “small-town boy with big-city dreams” kind of trope, but my aspirations weren’t so much that I wanted to escape the farmlands and head to any urban metropolis; my sights weren’t on skyscrapers but on castle spires. My feet may have been on Idaho soil, but my heart was always in Disneyland. When I was in high school, I used to boast that I was the only Idahoan with a Disneyland Annual Pass. Even if that wasn’t the case, you’d be hard-pressed to find another passholder from the Gem State that used their pass as much as I did. By the time I was in high school, I was making trips down 4+ times a year to Disneyland (my record was 8 trips in one year). It was a never-ending spring of ceaseless inspiration.

# 6 – Imagineering Legends

In those times in between Disneyland trips, I’d try to get my hands on as much Disneyland-related material as possible: biographies about Walt Disney, video “ride-throughs” of various attractions, articles about Disneyland history. I feel like we’re so spoiled nowadays with an overabundance of information so readily available regarding Disney Parks history, but back then there just wasn’t a whole lot for me to find – so what I could find, I clung to! There was a bonus featurette on the “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” DVD that showed portions of the “Disneyland 10th Anniversary” Wonderful World of Color episode, particularly the segment of Walt Disney showing then-Ambassador Julie Reihm around the developing “Pirates of the Caribbean” attraction. As enamored with all this glorious footage of the park, New Orleans Square, Walt, etc. as I was, what stood out the most to me was the fact that Walt Disney was talking directly to the specific artists and designers responsible for creating this thematic masterpiece of an attraction. So I did more research, I accrued more books, I studied more clips, and suddenly I was learning about people like Marc Davis, Rolly Crump, Harriet Burns, and more. These artists became more than inspiring to me, they became these quasi-superheroes. It added this entirely new layer to Disneyland and deeply affected how I perceived and interacted with the park. Disneyland became less a clean place that my family had fun at and more this living testament to the creative genius of these wonderful people.

And so, when my artistic abilities caught up somewhat with my artistic ambitions, I decided I wanted to create a series of illustrations celebrating those Imagineering Legends that had so heavily inspired me since I was a teenager.

Rolly Crump.

The first in the series was Rolly Crump. It had to be Rolly. Thanks to Jeff Heimbuch’s collaborative Crump-ography “It’s Kind Of A Cute Story,” I found in Rolly not only someone so abundantly inspiring (the compliment “Hey, your art reminds me of Rolly Crump!” is a compliment I will never get tired of hearing), but also a kindred spirit. There was this endearing irreverence and charm to him, a bold yet lovable quirkiness. I strived to be bold in this painting of him – I was using techniques I had never used before, color combinations I’d usually shy away from (using a gold-ish highlight against the rosy pink I had used for his skin, for example). It was as much a “love letter” to Rolly and all of the other Imagineers I ended up illustrating that I could make, but of course never considered that any of them would actually see them (especially given the fact that most of them had passed on). But it was this painting of Rolly and the ensuing Imagineering Legend portraits that prompted me to create my art Instagram (/haydenevansart), and by so doing my painting of Rolly eventually came to Jeff Heimbuch’s attention, who messaged me to tell me he’d show Rolly my painting himself! A few months later I was told that my portrait of Harriet Burns’ was shown to her family who then sent their sincere appreciation my way. To say those were “pinch me” moments is a tremendous understatement!

Harriet Burns – the first woman ever hired by Walt Disney Imagineering in a creative capacity.


Mary Blair – one of the most iconic concept artists in the history of Walt Disney Imagineering who’s work – including the giant mosaic inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort with the five legged goat – is still treasured today.
Marc Davis – one of Disney’s famed “Nine Old Men,” Marc’s mastery of visual aesthetics combined with a brilliant sense of humor led to memorable theme park attractions that have stood the test of time.
Walt Disney.

You can well imagine the complete shock I experienced when – just this past year – I saw an email in my inbox addressed from none other than Bob Gurr requesting a portrait to be done celebrating his upcoming 90th birthday. I… What do you even say to that? Well, you certainly don’t say no! Bob’s piece became a fantastic opportunity to again tap into that adoration I’d long held for Walt’s Imagineers. Largely inspired by the poster design for the technicolor “Gala Day at Disneyland” featurette (a fantastic short that showcases so many of Bob’s crowning Imagineering achievements like the Matterhorn Bobsleds and the Disneyland Monorail), I put Bob in the center and surrounded him with as much of his Disney-centric work that I could manage.

Receiving Bob’s approval of the piece over email correspondence was enough to “fill my cup,” but having him be so generous in his praises when I had the chance to show him the piece in person? That’s one of those experiences that, well… you’ll have to forgive the schmaltz, but it was almost sacred. To see Bob’s eye’s travel about the piece, sharing anecdotes about the Monorail that I had illustrated that he had actually designed, telling stories about Walt Disney as if he was our mutual friend – how do you adequately describe that? How do I possibly summate what that meant to me? It still remains one of the highlights of not only my artistic career but my life. That moment meant a lot to teenage-Hayden, and I imagine it’ll mean a lot to whatever-age-Hayden as I recall that memory throughout my life.    

Rob Yeo (@robjyeo) – Hayden perfectly channels that early spirit of Disneyland; you could slot him into WED circa 1965 between Rolly Crump and Mary Blair and nobody would bat an eye. His art is always unique, colorful, charming and nostalgic – they’re visual confections that look like they should be wrapped around a Wonka Bar.

As a fellow Disney geek, he knows all the references, the histories and winks, and that lifelong passion permeates everything he does, imbuing it with depth, emotion and a reverence for the source material.

Beyond his work he’s also an unbelievably kind and generous human being and a pleasure to know, and I eagerly await whatever he dreams up next!

# 5 – Castle Series

Despite never starting a project with this intention, a lot of my work ends up becoming “one in a series of many.” Even my Imagineering Legends started out as only a few portraits; I eventually made plans to create over 30 additional works for that series! (And who knows, even though it has been over 7 years since I did those, I may yet find time to do all the others I had hoped to.) Such was certainly the case with this Disney Parks Castle series I made. It began as an innocuous sketch of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland that developed to an equally innocuous fully-fledged illustration of Sleeping Beauty Castle. It gave me a chance to exercise my “Mid-Century Muscle” a bit, and I left the piece feeling decently satisfied with it. But then I sat there, looking at this castle I had drawn, considering it was about the 1,000th time I had drawn Sleeping Beauty Castle, and wondered, “Well shoot, what if I took the stylistic perimeters of this illustration and imposed them on Cinderella’s Castle?” A castle I had never drawn before. A castle I had never even seen before, at that point! Thoughts kept snowballing, and suddenly this snowball was heading past Florida and over to Paris, then Shanghai! Why not illustrate all different Disney Park castle variations in this style?

Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.
Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World.

If you’re curious as to a specific stylistic inspiration I took for this piece, look no further than the brilliant illustrative work of M. Sasek, specifically his “This Is” illustrated books (“This Is London,” “This Is Paris,” etc.) I loved the look of flat, geometric color being detailed with a blotty black inked line.

Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris.
Enchanted Storybook Castle n Shanghai Disneyland.

Now… I know what you’re thinking. I know because I ask myself the same thing: “Hayden, there’s more than four Disney Parks with castles. And what’s more, each castle is different! Why only four??” My reasoning at the time was that Magic Kingdom’s and Tokyo Disneyland’s were near identical, and Hong Kong Disneyland’s was (AT THE TIME) a carbon copy of Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. My reasoning (excuse?) for not having a complete series now? Look, I’ve been busy! But I assure my friends and followers that a Hong Kong Disneyland will yet happen, and a variation for Tokyo Disneyland will yet join the lineup, sooner than later! (Between you and I, I’d also like to make some variants of the different castles’ themed dressings through the years. Like Disneyland’s gilded 50th decor… Or, I don’t know, a certain castle’s birthday cake treatment…)

Although this illustration isn’t a part of the series, it showcases well my fondness for drawing this Disneyland icon.

If there’s any personal anecdote to share about these Castle pieces, it would be the fondness I’ve long held for drawing Sleeping Beauty Castle throughout my life. I couldn’t have been older than 12, but I remember doodling the castle on some scrap piece of paper during class. My classmate saw what I was drawing, felt like it was their responsibility to take me down a peg or two, and informed me that her dad could draw Disneyland’s castle perfectly from memory. As if my young mind wasn’t hyperfixated enough on hyper-specific aspects of Disneyland already, memorizing every square inch of Sleeping Beauty Castle became my next prerogative. I’ve drawn that castle thousands of times, and I’m sure I’ll draw it thousands more.

Jess Siswick (@tinymallet) – What I can I say about Hayden’s art? It perfectly captures that feeling of stepping onto Main Street in Disneyland: a timeless style that feels so warm and fuzzy and every stroke so full of life.

# 4 -Haunted Mansion Series

If I’m left to doodle mindlessly, there are a couple things my hands will just start sketching out. It’ll either be the tall spires of Sleeping Beauty Castle, or it will start out as four daunting columns topped with an entablature and pediment, then swirls of ornate ironwork as it forms a lower and upper veranda, a cupola on top, four brick chimneys, and a sailing ship weathervane. The Haunted Mansion – and all its variations – will forever be my favorite Disney Parks attraction, and this next illustrated series sought to encapsulate and celebrate the Mansion’s “quirky creepiness.”

The Mansion’s 51st Anniversary was soon approaching, and I challenged myself to create not only a series of illustrations, but an experience for my followers that would immerse them in the lore and the chilling atmosphere of The Haunted Mansion. I know the 51st Anniversary seems like an odd one to commemorate, but keep in mind – this was 6-months deep into the pandemic! 6+ months since any of us had stepped through the creaking doors of any Haunted/Phantom/Mystic Mansion/Manor. It felt like less of an opportunity to create new artwork, and more an opportunity to give people as close to a Haunted Mansion experience as I could through my followers’ phone screens. And so, “Ghostly Retreats” began to materialize!

(Want to experience the “Ghostly Retreats” release yourself? I have it saved as a Story Highlight on my Instagram! Just visit /haydenevansart to enjoy!)

Haunted Mansion in Disneyland.
Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World.
Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris.
Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland.
Haunted Mansion Holiday.

Gosh, was it fun! In the days leading up to the attraction’s anniversary and the artworks’ release, my social media was full of Mansion-centered content – you could answer trivia questions, watch rare clips of Mansion-related promos (my personal favorite included Elvira, Mistress of the Dark as she spent a night in the Mansion), and share your Mansion memories and opinions. But then the moment came to finally begin sharing the artwork, and this is when the real fun began. It’s one thing to share your art in a clever tweet or to put your latest post on your Instagram Story in the hopes of getting as many eyes on it as possible. But I wanted to offer something more – why not have Madame Leota herself summon each piece from “regions beyond?” Prior to each post, an animated Madame Leota would appear and deliver a rhyming incantation specific to the piece I was about to share.

“Spirits above and spirits below – show us that mansion that all of us know…

The first of its kind, the original thrill – “The Queen of New Orleans,” reveal if you will…”

Having an animated Madame Leota really elevated the entire thing, I think. It was one of the things people remember most from the release, and helped make it more than just an art release and made it that experience I was striving to achieve. My favorite part of Leota? I was able to use the talents of two incredible creatives that I’m happy to call my best friends. Tia Rider (an absurdly talented voice actor and fellow Mansion enthusiast, /tia.rider on Instagram) provided her voice, and Scott Nevin (a computer wizard that works technological miracles, /nevtechcreations on Instagram) animated my Leota design. It was such a great moment to describe my hopes and vision for this project, for them to both eagerly accept the invitation to collaborate, and then to elevate my vision with their incredible respective performances.

This entire series and all its associated promotional material was – like so many of my projects – an opportunity to craft a “love letter” to something that had proved so inspirational to me. Want a glimpse into the kind of child I was? I used to take a tape measure with me to Disneyland for the express purpose of measuring various aspects of the Mansion – how long the bricks were, how wide the openings in the lace-iron veranda were, etc. Every Haunted Mansion I’ve been able to experience around the world has only furthered the love and appreciation I have for this legendary attraction.

Stylistically I took a lot of the cues I called on in my Castle series, only with a greater emphasis this time around on character, color, and overall aesthetic. For the most part, each different Mansion illustration pulls its color palette from its respective attraction poster; I thought that would be an interesting way to tie the piece back to the subject matter.

Sterling Denham (@crypigutz) –  Hayden! Where do I even begin with Hayden? We may not know each other personally, but I certainly know his artwork. His Haunted Mansion work, especially, is inspiring. The use of colors and shapes are something I can’t even wrap my head around. To be able to look at a blank canvas and go “yeah, this is how I’m going to do it” has to be a dang superpower. Whenever I see Hayden acknowledge my art on social media I have to step back and wonder if it’s a joke or not. There’s no way THIS GUY likes MY stuff. Hayden is on another level I don’t think anyone else can reach. From the macabre to the whimsical, this man can really do it all. You’re an inspiration Hayden, I hope you continue to knock them out of the park and I can’t wait to see whatever you do next.

# 3 – Disneyland Fun Maps

As you can probably assume from the article thus far, it’s really hard for me to “ease up” on any given project. There’s always a certain grandiose tendency to make things more more, to elevate and expand a given concept. We’ll start our next journey with a look a painting I did back in 2015 which started merely as a commission for a “Pirates of the Caribbean inspired piece.” 

I took the prompt and ran a marathon with it, and delivered an entire Sam McKim-esque visual ride-through of the attraction. (My favorite detail of this piece? The “waterfalls” of the attraction being depicted as literal waterfalls! That was an homage to Walt Disney as he spoke with Julie Reihm in the “Disneyland 10th Anniversary” special I had mentioned earlier, when he described the attraction’s waterfalls as being key to the attraction’s “time traveling” capacities.)

If there’s a piece I’m best known for, it would probably be my mid-century, illustrated “fun map” of Disneyland. It was a labor of love that took a few years and a few iterations to figure out, and ultimately all came together thanks to some really unlikely inspiration. I had the map entirely sketched out, but struggled in figuring out how I wanted to “paint” the piece. At the height of my frustration, I randomly stumbled upon photos of vintage Pyrex containers arranged in beautiful chromatic order. They had the joyful tone I was going for!

Each “land” of this Disneyland has different tonal restrictions; for example, New Orleans Square is primarily green, yellow, and purple tones. (Get it? Because Mardi Gras? Eh? Ehhhh?) Fantasyland is pink, purple, and blues, and so on. You’ll also find that the map doesn’t really represent a Disneyland that has ever existed. You’ll see the Rainbow Caverns, but you’ll also see Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Swiss Family Treehouse, the Carousel of Progress, the Chicken of the Sea Restaurant, all sorts of beloved attractions of Yesterland are nestled right alongside their contemporary counterparts. Almost like how the gorgeous model of “Walt’s Disneyland” at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco features an elevated version of Disneyland that only existed in Walt’s imagination, this map allowed me to craft my Disneyland. It was a weirdly therapeutic exercise, and it’s something I find I’ve done more than once…

My most recent therapy session, er… example? This “California Dreaming” piece I created to commemorate Disney California Adventure’s 20th Anniversary. As has been the case with the Disneyland map, the Pirates of the Caribbean piece, the castle series, and pretty much everything I have made and will ever make, it started out as something small and grew. I couldn’t think of a singular icon from the park’s history to depict, so naturally my brain says, “Hey, why not depict everything??” 

I know that DCA – especially as it appeared in its first years – can be a bit of a polarizing topic. You either hate it or you love it so dang much because you realize why someone can and should hate it, but you love it despite (or in spite!) of all that. It’s kitschy. It’s corny. You want to talk about camp? DCA 1.0 was camp. And amidst all of its garishness and gaudiness, it also had a tremendous amount of heart – I owe attractions like Soarin’ Over California or shows like Eureka! A California Parade a debt of gratitude for helping me to find, foster, and fuel my own “California Dream.” DCA was also the first and only theme park I’ve “grown up with,” seeing its changes in real time rather than in some retrospect. This especially wide design was my “highlight reel” of the park’s history. Much like my Disneyland fun map, I got to showcase a DCA that perhaps never existed but the one I treasure most, which is why you’ll see Cars Land along with the Tower of Terror, both Condor Flats and Grizzly Peak, the Carthay Circle Theatre framed by the Golden Gate Bridge.

SonderQuest (@SonderQuest) –  The first time Hayden’s work landed on my radar was when he posted his tribute to Disney’s California Adventure for their 20th anniversary. The inspirations he pulled from some of the original Imagineers were immediately apparent. His incredible work with the composition of landmarks throughout DCA’s history and the vibrant colorful ambience that DCA 1.0 was built on is just hypnotic. I’m still willing to petition it be put on display on Disneyland property for all the West Coast fans to enjoy. There’s such a wondrous and genuinely imaginative perspective for every subject he illustrates and I fully endorse anytime he gets to share it with the world.

I’m not sure where Hayden‘s goals are pointed in his artistic career, aside from being on my dream team for a Journey Into Imagination refurbishment. However, I do know that he is one of the most capable and proven talents working today and I can’t imagine a world where he isn’t a headlining figure in themed entertainment within this decade.

# 2 – Captain Hook

If you have followed me for any amount of time, or if you don’t yet follow me and want some kind of warning, you’ve learned by now or will learn soon enough that my favorite Disney character is Captain Hook. I’ll do my best to explain it, but it certainly is an odd choice, isn’t it? It makes for some pretty difficult memorabilia collecting, I’ll tell you that. There are much easier characters to be fond of!

But I’ve had the love for this foppish pirate captain since I was a small boy; when you have an older brother that gets to pick who he wants to play pretend as first, it’s pretty likely that the younger brother will get “stuck” playing Hook to his brother’s Pan. But my brother certainly didn’t have to force that hook on my hand, I was delighted to accept the role. I’d get to don my finest Captain Hook drag (which was usually a ratty black wig, a plastic souvenir hook from a recent Disneyland trip, a pirate hat, and my mother’s black heels) and sword fight as foolishly and flamboyantly as I saw him do onscreen. 

I think visually he’s just a deliciously designed character.

This drawing is based on a vintage View-Master slide.
This piece is inspired by Captain Hook’s appearance in Magic Kingdom’s “Festival of Fantasy” parade. You can see an animated version of this drawing on my Insta page.
Anyone remember the Capt. Hook walk around character from years ago?

And what I love so much about being an artist? An artist gets to carry these interests, these fancies and passions they have with them throughout their life and then create things that expound on those loves. One of my favorite Hook-related pieces I did was a character cutout that was for no other purpose than to fill my own cup – to get me back into hand-crafting/painting (I get burned out on digital art after too long). It was as simple as sending a vectorized silhouette of a sketch I had made to Ponoko, who then sent me the silhouette laser-cut in a basic birchwood. (Seriously artists, you’re sleeping on Go there for any kind of laser-cut need you may have if you don’t have the resources yourself/locally!)

Original sketch.
Vectorized silhouette.
Birchwood Hook.
Work in progress painting the details on Hook.

A few layers of paint, a metal-wire mustache, and a feathered plume later, and I had myself a one-of-a-kind Hook! I think one of my favorite aspects of this project was the fact that, despite it being a character designed by someone else, it’s one of the most honest depictions of my personal style, and I believe I owe that to the fact that I really didn’t use any reference for this project. I sketched entirely from memory and relied more on communicating the “spirit” of Captain Hook than an inch-by-inch replication of the Disney character. (*Pro-tip for artists striving to better develop their caricature or portrait skills: focus less on literal, line-for-line duplication and more on striving to capture the gesture, the essence, the spirit of a character/person. You’ll find your work becomes much more lively and much more honest that way.)

Brian Cooper (@BrianCooperArt_) – A few years ago, my wife surprised me with a beautiful print by Hayden of two recently deceased ghosts in love. I was instantly obsessed with his art! I immediately pulled out my phone and started scrolling through all of his work on Instagram and I was absolutely blown away! His art is injected with so much charm and filled with spectacular whimsy. His love of theme parks and the way he draws them, makes him one of my absolute favorite artists. To say I am envious of his amazing talent and skill is a vast understatement! I am always in awe with the way he uses color and am so impressed with the shapes he uses in his designs. He is truly a master of his craft and is only getting better and better all the time. I can’t say that I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet Hayden in person yet. I can say that the brief interactions I’ve had with him online shows that his art reflects the incredibly kind and bright soul that he is. I’d be willing to bet that sometime very soon we’ll get to see Hayden’s work prominently displayed in the Wonder Gallery or get to experience an attraction he designed in the parks and I truly can’t wait until then. In the meantime, I’ll just keep scrolling his ‘Gram and wiping the drool from my screen while I ponder what print of his I’ll be buying next.

# 1 – Knotts Berry Farm

Considering the role Disneyland Park has played in my life, the fact that the entirety of this article so far has largely centered on my love for Disneyland or Disneyland-adjacent concepts, it’s a bit odd that we’d finish talking about Knott’s Berry Farm, isn’t it? But Knott’s Berry Farm – Disneyland’s wonderful neighbor just down Ball Road – has given me not only inspiration for my own work, but opportunity to showcase my work! This recently announced, upcoming 2022 Boysenberry Festival marks 4 years I’ve been a part of Knott’s “tribute galleries” that typically accompany their Boysenberry Festival, Knott’s Scary Farm, and sometimes Knott’s Merry Farm. 

Although I hadn’t set foot in Knott’s Berry Farm until 2015 when I first moved from Idaho to California, the park immediately felt as though I had been a lifetime visitor. There’s a country-spun hokiness to it all that reminded me so fondly of my Rocky Mountain upbringing. It possesses this unmistakable charm that hearkened back to aspects of Disneyland I felt had been lost as time progressed. I’m such a fan of Knott’s, for what it is – and for what it isn’t. It isn’t pretentious, it isn’t shiny, it isn’t superlative – but it is lovely, it is rip-roarin’, it is humble, it is as wholesome as a family can hope to find.

I’ve strived to always capture that feeling in the work I’ve done for Knott’s art galleries, to incorporate a dash of irreverence amongst the charm. My first piece was this garishly purple ode to the Boysenberry Pie, with hot pie innards spilling down the arms of a smiling waitress.

Hayden at the Knott’s Berry Farm tribute gallery.

For 2021’s Boysenberry Festival, I created a piece to give homage to several different entities: the fountain at Charleston Circle, the once-gone-but-now-returning Knott’s Bear-y Tales, and the man, the myth, the legend Rolly Crump who had designed the first iteration of Bear-y Tales.


The Fountain at Charleston Circle was what actually got me to go to Knott’s Berry Farm for the first time! I have long considered 1969’s “Hello, Dolly” to be one of my favorite films, and was delighted to learn that not just any prop but one of the fountains from the Harmonia Gardens set was featured prominently in the park. It’s a gorgeous fountain to see in person, and I’m so happy to see it so well preserved and cared for. Truly, if you’re a fan of “Hello, Dolly,” seeing the fountain is worth the price of park admission alone. But I digress! I knew I wanted to portray the fountain, but I couldn’t think of how to do it. I also was toying with a few Rolly-esque concepts, but none of them were sticking. Let me tell you though, the epiphany I had realizing “Rolly” was one consonant apart from “Dolly” was probably the strongest stroke of creative genius I had ever experienced, and I worry I used up all the creativity I’ll ever possess in that singular moment. So I ended up illustrating the Charleston Circle fountain but then embellishing it with every kind of whirly-gig and Rolly-esque flourish that I could conjure.

Boysenberry Festival 2019.

Again, it’s pieces like that where I get to stop and think about just how fun and ridiculous it is to be an artist. You mean I get to take the love I have for this specific movie musical and combine it with the admiration I have for this charming “kind of cute” artist, all in the context of celebrating this rootin’-and-tootin’ theme park I adore?

Knott’s Scary Farm 2018.
Knott’s Scary Farm 2019. All of your favorite haunts from many of Knott’s Scary Farm’s most terrifying mazes and scare zones emerge from the Calico Mines aboard a Calico Mine train (which is my favorite ride in all of Knott’s). The giant sea monster from “The Depths,” the undead funeral procession of “Forsaken Lake,” the killer clowns and oddities of “Carn-Evil” and “Dark Ride,” and the Green Witch taking up the rear with other Ghost Town terrors.
Knott’s Merry Farm 2020. Ever heard of a Catawampus? They’re an unusual species, mostly made of wood with heavy horns. Stick around long enough, and you may hear ‘em “Moo!” Not many exist anymore, in fact – some say that the last remain one is at Knott’s Berry Farm! This little fella has been good all year, and Santa’s enlisting the dear little Catawampus to lead his team of reindeer. So be on the lookout – you may hear reindeer paws and Catawampus “Moo’s” up on the housetop…
Knott’s Scary Farm 2021. The spooks at Boothill Cemetery are “Rolly-ing” in their graves… Here’s my new piece for Knott’s Scary Farm tribute show, “dead-icated” to one of my favorite corners of Ghost Town! (And I couldn’t resist the opportunity to once again stylistically celebrate one of my favorite artists of all time, Rolly Crump!)

Sam Carter (@Cartarsauce) – I feel lucky to have known Hayden early on in his art gallery career when I co-curated Popzilla Gallery and had him in our group art show. His art stood out from just about everything and took our art show to another level, it was like from another time. Since then I have been his biggest cheerleader as other art lovers and industry professionals start to discover his timeless talents and uniqueness.

HONORABLE MENTION – The Queens of Halloween

The love I have for Disneyland falls under the umbrella of the love I have for vintage kitsch, for all things campy, for pop culture. And under that same umbrella you’d find my fondness for classic Halloween. Each October I try to pump out as much Halloween-themed art as possible, sometimes as many as 31 pieces – one for each day of the month! So here’s a few of some of my favorites through the years:

It simply isn’t Halloween without the “horror hostess with the mostess,” that “gal who puts the boob back in ‘boob-tube’,” Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Gosh, I miss seeing her perform at Knott’s Scary Farm. There was just something so incredible about seeing such a legend do what they do best!
I think I’ve drawn Dr. Frankenfurter just as much – if not more times – than I’ve drawn Captain Hook. I’ll let that speak for itself!
You certainly see a lot of Beetlejuice artwork, but how often do you see fanart of Catherine O’Hara’s Delia Deetz??

Ava Buric (@AvaDrawsThings) – If you divided my life into percentages, 5% of it would probably be me studying Hayden’s color schemes and shading. I could honestly stare at his amazing choices for hours! They truly capture the retro art style I always think of when the early years of Disneyland come to my mind. His castle series truly displays his unique art style and the way he can twist any Disney icon or character into his own version is always stunning to see. I definitely hope to talk with him one day and dive into his creative process (especially to figure out his shading techniques)!

For more Hayden Evans goodness, you can follow Hayden on Twitter (@haydenevansart) Facebook (/HadenEvansArt) Instagram (/haydenevansart) or check out his website

So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX SIX Proudly Presents: The Theme Park Artwork of Hayden Evans! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out the THEME PARK ENJOYMENT INDEX, giving a monthly recap of all the theme park news you need to know (and a lot more you don’t need to know, but we’re gonna tell you anyway). You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

Artist Spotlight Class of 2021: SonderQuest | Sam Carter | Brian Cooper | Sterling Denham

Artist Spotlight Class of 2022: Rob Yeo | Ava Buric | Jess Siswick | Hayden Evans

SATURDAY SIX Presents: Artists Inspired by Universal’s VELOCICOASTER

SATURDAY SIX Presents: Artists Inspired by Universal’s HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS

SATURDAY SIX Artists Inspired by HHN Series: Dead Skull

Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Digital Maestro Scott Walker, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, artist @SonderQuest, the mighty maven of merchandise Hedgehog’s Corner, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Absolutely no help was added by SeaWorld Influencer @SuperWeenieHtJr. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will  enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.

Thank you Hayden for being such a tremendously creative artist and sharing your talent with the rest of us. At times the world around us can be dark and seemingly hopeless, but you and your artwork bring a lot of color, a touch of whimsy, and help give a renewed spirit to everyone it touches. In Florida we are well known for our out-of-nowhere crazy intense rainstorms, but once they finish the sun is out and it feels like a brand new day. *That* is what it feels like seeing a new piece of artwork from Hayden and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next. – Derek Burgan

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One thought on “SATURDAY SIX Presents: The Theme Park Artwork of Hayden Evans

  • Wow! Some truly amazing art. And congrats on the Bob Gurr commission – the praise is well deserved!

    Can’t wait to see what you do with HKDL’s new Castle of Magical Dreams.


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