Illustration by Kevin & Jody for Los Angeles Magazine
Rolly Crump is one of our favorite designers in the whole wide world. Whether we're talking about his theme park contributions for Disney, or his satyrical counter-culture posters, Rolly rules.
So, when Los Angeles Magazine asked us to create an illustration to accompany a new interview with the legendary artist for this month's issue, we both shouted yes.
What else can we say here about Rolly, that isn't more eloquently said in the splendid article by Marcel Bonner and Steve Daly? Probably nothing, so let's treat ourselves, instead, to some visual delights from Rolly's imagination.
In 1962, as the Tiki Room at Disneyland was coming together, Walt asked Rolly to design some pre-show tikis to be placed outside in the landscaping, to "set the mood" for waiting guests. While researching Pacific island culture and mythology, Rolly became enthralled with a little book by Katharine Luomala he discovered in the UCLA library called Voices on the Wind.
Rolly sculpted this small sun god in about 45 minutes. 1962
Luomala's retelling of the ancient Hawaiian legends of Hina, Rongo, and Pele inspired wildly imaginative interpretations in Rolly’s drawings. In island lore the god Maui, who had tethered the sun in the sky, thus regulating time and establishing the seasons, materialized as a water-powered clock, producing a rhythmic tick-tock with a length of bamboo.
When WED sculptor Blaine Gibson explained he was too busy with other projects, Rolly sculpted most of the nine tikis himself, something he hadn't tried before! "In those days, " Rolly explains, "we did whatever it took to do it."
The tikis were modeled in plasticene, a soft oil-based clay, over foam armatures, in the parking lot behind WED. Outdoors in the warm California sunshine, the clay stayed soft and the work went fast.
Rolly inspects the newly installed Maui fountain at Disneyland,
Rolly's tiki creations are fantastical Disney characters in their own right, each one with a distinctive look and personality. Today, over 47 years after it debuted, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room is so familiar a concept, that it's difficult to measure the impact this little "musical luau" has really had...on art, technology and on popular culture. Something I am sure of, however, is that there's still nothing quite as much fun as having your imagination carried away by talented make-believers like Rolly Crump.
Photo by Gregg Segal for Los Angeles Magazine.If you live in Southern California, the magazine is a cinch to find at any grocery store. But if that doesn't work for you, order a copy online here!
Past post about Rolly: Muse of the Weird and Wonderful