The Amazing Legacy of Concept Artist Eric Heschong

Written by Rick Wright. Posted in Features, Weekend Update

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Eric-Heschong

Published on June 29, 2013 at 3:00 am with 7 Comments

Alain Littaye of the Disney and more blog shares a very personal tribute to the late, great concept artist Eric Heschong. Eric started his amazing career painting scenery for CBS and animation backgrounds at Hanna Barbera Studios. He was best known for bringing other people’s concepts to life in amazing artist’s renderings. ~~Rick

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Highly talented artist Eric Heschong, who painted gorgeous concept artwork for WDI and many other companies, passed away on June 4th of lung cancer. He was 62 years old. This is very sad news indeed. Eric’s paintings have been an inspiration for many artists – like Greg Pro, who also creates artwork for WDI. I have always been a huge fan of Eric’s artwork since I discovered the fantastic Tomorrowland ’98 paintings done for Walt Disney Imagineering that you can see above and below.

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Among other paintings that Eric did for WDI, there is this beautiful painting of the Mark Twain Riverboat. Actually, this one was not an order from WDI, Eric did this painting for himself!

marktwain

Tokyo Disneyland fans will be interested in this next artwork by Eric as it is an artwork that he did for a TDL project that never was. This “Fantasia” art-deco style building looks gorgeous don’t you think? The proposed “Fantasia” store was a project of Imagineer Eddie Sotto and was anchored by a huge animated Sorcerer’s Apprentice fountain inside, a miniature golf course on the roof and a restaurant. Unfortunately the project was shot down at the last minute and the “Bon Voyage” shop was built instead.

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Eric Heschong learned to paint at the now defunct Hanna-Barbera Studios. Later, he worked doing architectural illustration, then at Landmark Entertainment, a company specializing in attraction, theme park and casino/resort design. If you haven’t heard of Landmark, they designed the Terminator 3D attraction for Universal Studios and the amazing Spiderman ride at Islands of Adventure. Back at the end of the 1990′s, Eric worked at Landmark with Chuck Cancillier, who was the designer. Chuck would do pencil layouts and then hand them off to Eric for paint. Every so often, he’d be asked to do the layouts.

“Working for Landmark was a fun time for me” Eric told me. “I enjoyed the work and tried to please. I used my portfolio from Landmark to get work at Universal Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. Most of the work I did at Walt Disney Imagineering was for Tony Baxter.”

Here are some of his paintings for Landmark. Some are from his early work, but all are gorgeous.

This is a painting of “Emerald City” which was done for a Wizard of Oz park that was supposed to go somewhere in Kansas. Landmark didn’t mind that Eric’s Emerald City looked nothing like the one in the movie.

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This next painting with the purple rocket was for a Paramount Pictures park. A Willie Wonka attraction (on the right) and a Godfather’s restaurant (on the left) were to be featured.

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The next two paintings were done for a Star Trek attraction. I don’t think these scenes were ever realized but Landmark is the company who did the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas.

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The next concept with a copper colored space station was actually built in South Korea.

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This next painting of Bluto Bay decor was done by Eric for the Toon Lagoon Popeye area at Universal Islands of Adventure.

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Eric also did this concept art for a James Bond “License to Thrill” attraction. At first I thought he had done it for a previous concept of the Walt Disney Studios’ “Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show”, as I knew WDI had at one time envisioned to do the stunt show with a James Bond theme. Then it was cancelled and I had always thought it was for a rights/license problem – that the Bond license was too expensive, etc. In fact, it’s probably because Paramount Parks got the rights to do this “License to Thrill” attraction. The attraction was built in several different Paramount parks beginning in 1998.

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Landmark also designed hotels and casinos, and Eric did paintings for these, like this 1999 Muwi Kingdom Hotel concept for Inchon, South Korea.

Muwi Kingdom Hotel

This next bird’s eye view was to be a casino/hotel called The Desert Kingdom in Las Vegas to replace the Desert Inn. But the Desert Inn was sold to Steve Wynn who built the Wynn Hotel instead.

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Eric’s painting of the interior lobby with the griffins was incredibly spectacular – I should say dazzling.

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This next concept with the movie theaters and trolley car was done for a Navy Pier concept in Chicago.

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This one was also done for the Chicago Navy Pier concept.

Chicago Navy Pier

This 1998 acrylic painting shows a land called “Cartoon Ville”, part of a proposal for a “Shanghai Movie Park” in China.

CartoonVille

The two next paintings called “Metropolis Metro Entertainment Center” were done by Eric for a Shanghai Metro Entertainment Center.

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Metropolis Metro Entertainment Center

The concept art below shows a “Nautical Sports Dome” for a Niagra Theme Park.

Nautical Sports Dome

“U.S.O. with Bob Hope” is the name of the cell vinyl on illustration board concept below.

USO w- Bob Hope

This next painting was for a “Rhythm and Blues Area” in a Grammy Exposition.

Rhythm and Blues Area

As I told you, Landmark did lots of concepts for casinos. Here are some paintings that Eric did for Las Vegas’ Caesar’s Palace. This concept is for a 1995 “Caesar’s Exterior Expansion”.

Caesars Exterior Expansio

The next one shows a new inside decor proposal for Caesar’s Palace.

Caesars Exterior Expansion

And this one, also for Caesar’s, was called “Casino of the Gods”.

Casino of the Gods

This 1999 painting was named “Secondary Gaming-Train Station” for a proposed expansion of the Barona Casino in San Diego.

Secondary Gaming-Train Station

Rooftop Casino is the name of the scene below, obviously inspired by the rooftop of the Paris Opera (where I walked upon for real some years ago for a photo shoot!).

Rooftop Casino

The 1997 painting “Monex New York Casino” was another kind of “rooftop” view for the Century City Monex.

Monex New York Casino

“Starlight Restaurant Interior” was designed for Phantom Phantasy Casino.

Starlight Restaurant

These two 1993 acrylic paintings were Eric’s concepts for the Harrah’s Hotel/Casino Laughlin. The first one is called “Harrahs Laughlin” and the next one “Plaza Scene”

Harrahs Laughlin

Plaza Scene

Also for Harrah’s, this last painting was called “Mardi Gras”.

Mardis Gras

I want to thank Eric Heschong and Landmark Entertainment who provided these images for an article many years ago. We will miss Eric and his amazing paintings.

Artwork: copyright Landmark – Eric Heschong – Disney Enterprises

About Rick Wright

Rick has been a long term MiceChat author and co-founder of the Weekend Update. You will often find Rick in the position of "Greeter" at official events due to his warm and welcoming spirit. If you've got photos, news or trip reports to share, Rick would love to hear from you: [email protected]

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7 Comments

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  1. wow such great art work! It is kind of crazy, to find out I was a fan of this man’s work without ever knowing who he was! Thank you for the great tribute!

  2. I loved all the nautical slanted sets and architecture in Director Robert Altman’s Disney film Popeye, with Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, and always thought they should do a Sweet Haven Lagoon. Having a “Bluto Spinach Burger” there was a thought I envisioned. I was surprise when Universal did one before them copying Disney’s concept of the Popeye Village. Eric did a great job on the rendering of it, and love his Mark Twain. I hope he is back on Walt’s team with all the Disney Legends.

  3. I’m blown away. Such stunning images. What a sad loss at too young an age. Thank you Alain.

  4. Thank you very much for sharing this artwork. In my memory there’s a big blank space for the Tomorrowland I saw last in 2009 that I shall fill with the first two paintings. They aren’t just about buildings but about people enjoying themselves in Tomorrowland, something we seem to have lost along the way…

  5. Spectacular!! Thank you so much. I love that I could click on the pictures and really see the great detail.

  6. Wow, How hard would it be to design such wonderful things, and not see your ideas used. Thanks for sharing this wonderful art.

    • That’s got to be one of the hardest parts of the job. Seeing your best ideas just get filed away forever.