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Winter 2004
Off the Wall
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Baseman Illustration of UCLA mascot and friendly creatures
Denizens of the world of Gary Baseman appear in an acrylic painted for this issue of UCLA Magazine.

Whether it's via print, canvas, film, television or toys, Gary Baseman's mischievous art is pervading America

by Anne Burke
Illustrations by Gary Baseman

"I didn’t kiss a girl until I was 18," Gary Baseman blurts.

It’s a sudden, disarming confession from a man who, at 44 years old, is a globally successful illustrator, painter and toy designer, with cool-cat hipster good looks, a substantial ego and an unshakable faith in his talent.

Possessed of manic energy and a nervous edge, the creator of the animated TV series and Disney feature film Teacher’s Pet is zipping around barefoot in the studio of his Hancock Park home. It is a light-filled space that opens onto a patio where two black cats are curled up, asleep. Vintage toys and mannequin heads that Baseman finds at flea markets and uses as props and muses line the shelves and tabletops.

With three Daytime Emmys on the mantelpiece of his eclectically decorated 1920s home and a recently released coffee-table book of his art, Dumb Luck (Chronicle Books, 2004), Baseman ’82 is enjoying the kind of acclaim and financial success that many of his peers might lust after. He has a closet full of Ralph Lauren and Prada that he wears to gallery openings and public appearances. He is a sought-after speaker on the subject of "pervasive art," his nascent art movement that blends commercial and fine art. His phone rings incessantly. "My life is nuts. I’m working on 25 different things," he says after hanging up from one call.


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