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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The next concept with a copper colored space station was actually built in South Korea.
This next painting of Bluto Bay decor was done by Eric for the Toon Lagoon Popeye area at Universal Islands of Adventure.
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.
Landmark also designed hotels and casinos, and Eric did paintings for these, like this 1999 Muwi Kingdom Hotel concept for Inchon, South Korea.
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.
Eric’s painting of the interior lobby with the griffins was incredibly spectacular – I should say dazzling.
This next concept with the movie theaters and trolley car was done for a Navy Pier concept in Chicago.
This one was also done for the Chicago Navy Pier concept.
This 1998 acrylic painting shows a land called “Cartoon Ville”, part of a proposal for a “Shanghai Movie Park” in China.
The two next paintings called “Metropolis Metro Entertainment Center” were done by Eric for a Shanghai Metro Entertainment Center.
The concept art below shows a “Nautical Sports Dome” for a Niagra Theme Park.
“U.S.O. with Bob Hope” is the name of the cell vinyl on illustration board concept below.
This next painting was for a “Rhythm and Blues Area” in a Grammy Exposition.
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”.
The next one shows a new inside decor proposal for Caesar’s Palace.
And this one, also for Caesar’s, was called “Casino of the Gods”.
This 1999 painting was named “Secondary Gaming-Train Station” for a proposed expansion of the Barona Casino in San Diego.
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!).
The 1997 painting “Monex New York Casino” was another kind of “rooftop” view for the Century City Monex.
“Starlight Restaurant Interior” was designed for Phantom Phantasy Casino.
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”
Also for Harrah’s, this last painting was called “Mardi 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