Kenny Thompkins

1961-Present day

Animation Director at Disney Television, Visual effects artist, sculptor, designer, storyboard artist, director, animator at Walt Disney Television Animation

*Bio Summary: *
Kenny Thompkins was born and raised in Cleveland in a family of artists. He was inspired by both his siblings’ art as well as the art of Da Vinci and Michelangelo. In 1979 at the age of eighteen, he moved from Cleveland to California, striving to work for Disney Animation Studios. He worked at a sandwich shop for two years until his art was discovered by Eric Larson, one of Disney’s top animators and a member of the “Disney’s Nine Old Men” core animators, known for his work in Lady and the Tramp, Jungle Book, and Peter Pan. He directed Kenny to California Institute of the Arts, where, after three attempts, Kenny was accepted and studied there for four years before graduating with a degree in animation. He worked for several years on other studios before finally being hired by Disney itself.

*Early Life/Family: *
Grew up in Cleveland in a “house full of artists” with his brothers and sisters all drawing and his mother an art major from Ohio State. Loved Disney cartoons as a child, and also began to admire “The Masters”: Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Peter Paul Rubens and Norman Rockwell. Cleveland didn’t offer much in art jobs so he moved to California in 1979 in hopes of working for Disney.

*Education/Training: *
California Institute of the Arts

*Career Outline: *
Worked at a sandwich shop for 2 years after moving to California and worked hard to practice drawing everyday. Eric Larson saw his work and directed him to California Institute of the Arts- a college built by the Disney animation program. Kenny was accepted after three application attempts and studied there for four years. When he graduated, Disney was not hiring so instead he worked for other studios working on shows such as Real Ghostbusters, KissyFur, Dennis, the Get Along Gang and ALF. Soon after he finally landed a job at Disney and helped work on many “fun” projects including Winnie the Pooh, Rescue Rangers, Darkwing and Tail Spin.

*Comments On Style: *
All the projects that Kenny has worked on have been mostly TV shows and straight-to-DVD movie sequels, and because of such have quirkier and looser styles of animation than Disney’s usual feature-length animations. His sculptures, however, are extremely detailed and expressive.

*Influences: *
Kenny reported being inspired by the “Masters” or art including Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Peter Paul Rubens and Norman Rockwell. He claims the inspiration came from their being so very well-rounded and skilled at both drawing, painting and sculpting.

*Personality: *
Steve Tarin, who according to LinkedIn managed Kenny at SunBow Entertainment in 2013 left a post on his LinkedIn profile describing Kenny as a hard-worker, very driven and having a great attitude, and that “Anybody would be lucky to have him as part of their team.”

*Anecdotes: *
Kenny refused to let working at a sandwich shop for nearly two years after moving to California stop his dreams of joining Disney and kept his art alive by drawing every day in the local park.

*Miscellaneous: *
Kenny’s discovery and subsequent direction to California Institute of the Arts can be attributed to Eric Larson discovering his art. Larson was one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men” core animators who joined Disney in 1933 and trained many of Disney’s top animators in the 1970s and 80s.

Pooh's Heffalump Movie 2005 (Movie)
(Character Design)
Atlantis: Milo's Return 2003 (Movie)
(Character Design)
Piglet's Big Movie 2003 (Movie)
Additional Character Design (Character Design)
Disney's The Legend of Tarzan 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)
Visual Effects
Disney's The Weekenders 1999 - 2002 (TV Show)
Visual Effects
Disney's Pepper Ann 1997 - 2001 (TV Show)
Visual Effects
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II 2001 (Movie)
(Character Design)
Disney's Hercules 1998 - 2000 (TV Show)
Visual Effects
A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving 1998 - 1999 (TV Show) Visual Effects
The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa 1995 - 1999 (TV Show)
Visual Effects
Aladdin 1994 - 1997 (TV Show)
Visual Effects
The Shnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show 1994
- 1995 (TV Show)
Visual Effects
P.J. Funnybunny 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)
The Happy Elf (TV Show)
Character Animation
The Story of Santa Claus (TV Show)
Visual Effects
Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too (TV Show)
Visual Effects
Pooh's Heffalump Movie 2005 (Movie)
Prop Design (Props)
Piglet's Big Movie 2003 (Movie)
Additional Storyboarding (Storyboard Artist)
Salty's Lighthouse 1998 - 2000 (TV Show)
Storyboard Artist
Beauty and the Beast 1991 (Movie)
Disney's Jungle Cubs 1996 - 1998 (TV Show)
Disney's Jungle Cubs 1996 - 1998 (Tv Show) Aladdin and the King of Thieves 1996 (Movie)
character design (Other)
Darkwing Duck 1990 - 1996 (TV Show)
The Return of Jafar 1993 (Movie)
Petal To the Metal 1992 (Movie)


*Related Links:*

*Bibliographic References: *

*Contributors To This Listing: *
Ken Plume
Van Emmerik, Sydney Johanna

Animators Hall of Fame