It was a surprise for Israeli graphic designer Karen Graw when she found her work written up in more than 50 international websites.
The artwork, a composite of Disney character faces and what they would look like if they were real people, was a project that Graw had embarked on after graduating from college. She had posted it on art website deviantART, where it was “pretty popular for a long time,” said Graw, a resident of Carmiel in northern Israel. Then, “kinda out of the blue, it spiraled out of control.”
“I Googled myself and saw that up to 50 websites had written about this,” said Graw.
The sites included the UK’s Daily Mail, The Independent, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan France, and other independent blogs and websites. Some of them included photos of the ‘real’ characters alongside, identifying each Disney character.
The characters featured are: Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Mother Gothel, Tiana, Charlotte LaBouffe, Esmerelda, Frollo, Giselle, jane, Tarzan, Cinderella, Belle, Prince Adam (*The Beast), Gaston, Mulan, Alice, Jasmine, Aladdin, Aurora, Prince Philip, Maleficent, Cruella Deville, Meg, Hercules, Pocahontas, Snow White, The Evil Queen, Ariel, Prince Eric and Ursula.
Graw said she had never anticipated such interest in her extracurricular project. The graphic designer, who moved from the US to the northern industrial town during high school, was “in a huge experimental period” when she spent two weeks filtering down features of the best-known Disney characters.
“I had time to myself, to do projects I wanted to do,” said Graw, 27.
She began to play around with the Illustrator and Photoshop programs, wondering what an ID photo of a Disney character would look like.
“I thought about the main princesses, because that’s what everyone likes,” she said.
Taking “a ton” of photos from the Internet, from celebrities to non-celebrities, she filtered them down, looking for the “right” features, comparing what she’d found to the frontal photos of each princess, “everything that kind of fits each character,” she said.
Graw then used a morphing algorithm that “kind of averaged out the faces,” she said. Working with each face, she transferred each one to Photoshop to make it look more like the actual character.
She estimates that the entire project took approximately two weeks. After posting it on deviantART, she added other characters, villains and princes and left it on the site. People have asked her to add more characters, but Graw said she doesn’t like to repeat herself in her art.
“It was more of an experiment, but since so many people have asked me, maybe I’ll add some of the newer characters,” she said.
For now, the graphic designer — who doesn’t generally think about Disney characters — is looking for work (in Tel Aviv, any offers?). She spends her spare time drawing, painting and illustrating.
“I’m very skeptical and I’m not looking for fame or anything,” said Graw of her 15 minutes. “That is not what I want; I just want success in my field.”
Maybe she should give Disney a call.