Off the Wall
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of the world of Gary Baseman appear in an acrylic painted
for this issue of UCLA Magazine.
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.