This week the SATURDAY SIX Proudly Presents: The Theme Park Artwork of JESS FELDMAN! Each February, The SATURDAY SIX spotlights artists in the theme park community to coincide with Disney’s Festival of the Arts. Each of these artist spotlight features gives us a chance to appreciate an illustrator whose work uses characters, attractions, or any other element of the Disney or Universal theme parks. We began this annual tradition in 2021 and have continued each year (you can find all the previous artist spotlight features by CLICKING HERE.) The class of 2024 kicked off with Jaime S. (@jdimaria124) and today we are following up with our second artist…
Hello there! My name is Jess aka JFeldmanArt. I’m currently based outside of Seattle, Washington, and work solely as a digital artist. I’m incredibly honored that Derek asked me to participate in this “Artist Spotlight”. I’m such an admirer of the many artists that have been featured thus far in the series. It’s almost unreal that I’m joining such a lineup!
Here’s a little background about me…I grew up fascinated by all things Disney and the theme parks that brought these Disney characters to life. My two younger sisters and I were religiously steeped in all things Disney, from a constant stream of 2000s-era Disney Channel to frequent trips to the parks. Half of my childhood was spent living in Southern California and Disneyland was my playground. The latter half of my childhood through when I turned 21 was spent in North Carolina. While I didn’t have Disneyland in my backyard anymore, I did have the luxury of going on family trips down to Walt Disney World at least once or twice a year. Disney was/and still is a constant factor in my life. A factor that often makes its presence known in my artwork.
I sometimes get asked about what my goals are as an artist. While specifics on these goals have changed over time there has always been one thing at the center: joy. If I can create artwork that makes people feel joy, then all the hard work will have been worth it. Hopefully, you can find some joy in looking at some of the art I’ll share with you down below!
# 6 – Disney
Drawing Disney characters has long been the way I’ve developed artistically. Every school notebook I ever had was littered with Mickey and Donald doodles in the margins, and I tested every set of fresh colored pencils with carefully observed drawings of Ariel, Simba, etc… Give any 8-year-old a crayon and they may draw their dog or the little house with the triangle roof, but give 8-year-old Jess a crayon and she drew the Three Caballeros. As you can see below…not too much has changed!
# 5 – Disney Parks
I often still turn to Mickey and his friends when I want to test a new idea, tool, or technique. In its simplest terms, the Disney roster is my comfort food, and I like to be comfortable. However, now a lot of the characters I draw are either exclusive to the parks or are the park versions of the characters that first appear on the screen.
# 4 – 20th Century Artwork and Illustration
The biggest influences on my work beyond Disney/Theme parks come from artwork made within the 20th century. For example, I’m constantly enamored with classic movie posters from the ’30s to ’50s and my Pinterest is always full of examples of vintage illustrated advertisements that were commonly found within the pages of newspapers and magazines. There’s something so charming to me about a gorgeously painted illustration of something so “simple” as a box of cornflakes or a bottle of Windex.
These are the first two of what I hope will eventually become a series of sewing pattern-inspired illustrations celebrating Cast Member costumes. You may notice some fun Haunted Mansion Easter eggs within the text on these pieces!
# 3 – Food and Scientific Botanical Illustration
What I’m probably the most known for are my takes on food and botanical illustrations. That idea was one I had stored away on the back burner for a couple of years, as I always loved looking at these detailed illustrations of different fruits and vegetables but always wished they catered to my specific interests. The instance that finally pushed me over the edge into illustrating one for myself was when my sister found a particularly cool cheese-themed botanical print while in culinary school down in Napa Valley. It was August of 2020 and I had nothing else to do during lockdown so I tried out the idea with some of the iconic Disneyland treats. I wasn’t very active on social media at the time but I decided to throw that illustration up on Instagram, not knowing doing so would change the trajectory of my career as an artist. It took off and I haven’t looked back.
Since the initial Disneyland-themed illustration, I’ve completed over 100 different food/botanical-styled prints. I even offer commissions on my Etsy shop where I complete custom illustrations based on the customer’s request. Those pieces have ranged from illustrating a client’s specific list of favorite park treats to more unique requests, like a recent request where the client gave me full reign to just draw as many different styles of toilets as I desired (I learned a lot about toilets researching that request). Here are some of my favorite park-themed botanical pieces!
The coolest part of doing so many pieces in this format for me is seeing the growth I’ve had in my art style in the 3+ years since that initial Disneyland piece. The best example of that in my opinion is the first version of the Studio Ghibli piece versus the new and improved second version.
# 2 – The Muppets
If you already follow me on social media, you know very well that I LOVE Jim Henson’s body of work. My dad was the one who introduced me to the zany cast of The Muppet Show via the DVD collections that Disney had released back in 2005 and through Muppet Vision 3D back when it was still open at Disney California Adventure. When The Muppets movie came out in 2011, my family went the day it premiered in theaters. Watching these characters on the big screen for the first time in my life was so surreal as I had only ever seen them in the context of the couple of seasons we had on DVD and then in Muppet Vision 3D. In the years since his passing back in 2018, I’ve doubled down on my love for the Muppets, something I know he would have loved to see.
I wanted to do a massive personal project in 2022 where I’d try and fit as many Muppet characters in one illustration as I could. It was a huge UNDERTAKING but I enjoyed every moment of it. I never really drew the Muppets much as a kid but now I can’t seem to draw them enough!!
# 1 – Conventions
The very last thing I want to touch upon is the last major source of inspiration for my work; the people I interact with at conventions! I still consider myself pretty new at the convention scene, but my time so far at vending has been some of the best time I’ve ever had. Seeing people react to my work in real-time is incredibly validating and has done wonders as far as boosting not only my confidence as an artist but also my confidence in myself in general.
If you are one of the many people who have stopped by my booth at a convention, even if you didn’t buy anything or take a business card, I thank you! And if you ever see me at a booth at a future show, please don’t hesitate to stop and chat!
So there you have it: The Theme Park Artwork of Jess Feldman!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 2023: Jaime S. | Jess Feldman
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, the permit princess Alicia Stella, master cartographer Tommy Hawkins, 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.