An “Animated” Park West Art Auction at Sea with Disney Artist, David Willardson

By Erin, Cruise Ship Art Auctioneer

© Collectors Editions. All Rights Reserved. © Disney.Considered one of the finest galleries afloat, the Celebrity Infinity always hosts an amazing art collection. Still what a surprise, when in anticipation of a visit from world renowned Disney artist, David Willardson, the gallery came alive as never before – one might say it was down-right animated.

After 17 years of drawing for Disney, Willardson is now affiliated with the world’s largest art dealer, Park West Gallery, and remains an aficionado in depicting classic characters: Mickey, Minnie…as well as feature friends: Bambi, Snow White, Lady, and of course, her Tramp alike.

While many Infinity cruisers are familiar with fun and fast paced Park West auctions, few could have imagined a more friendly surprise than what seemed like the whole of Disney setting out to greet them on the first night of their Alaska bound cruise. One even quipped in passing, “I did get on the Celebrity ship…right?”

Assuring onlookers that this was in fact, the happiest gallery on the high seas, David Willardson, accompanied by his Grammy-nominated girlfriend, Michelle Shocked, were among the first in an anticipated string of artist sailings, each of which ensured the cruise crowd an art experience to write home about, or even hang on the wall.

How did it all begin? Willardson left no rock unturned in his live and packed interview on the first sea day of the voyage. Recorded and widely broadcast aboard ship, the interview offered astonishing insight into the early beginnings, as well as the current buzz, of Willardson’s brilliant career.

Raiders of the Lost Ark Fresh out of art school, David Willardson manifested his own destiny in designing the first Indiana Jones Logo for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Further success followed with his design iconology for American Graffiti. One of the first artists actively airbrushing as a means to bring his talents to life, Williardson cast his careful eye over friends and role models he had met as a child, the Disney family.

Rendering characters in an entirely new way, David Willardson seems to have opened an adult channel leading back to our childhood wonders. The stiffest of guests couldn’t help but smile as they strolled past vibrant walls. International guests seemed enchanted as well – one man from Bombay stopped to admit, “I love the duck (referring to Donald)…and the bear (referring to Pooh).”

Even the Infinity’s esteemed captain took an interest in the visit, inviting Willardson to the bridge. In the midst of viewing Hubbard Glacier and after detailing a short list of other famous names his ship has ferried throughout a long career, he exclaimed “…And now I’ve met the man who draws Mickey Mouse!”

Obviously a crowd pleaser, this special cruise marked a double highlight for Willardson himself – celebrating his first Alaska venture and his 66th birthday. Though the birthday event wasn’t made common knowledge throughout the ship, the festivities took place in the art gallery and were open to the public. Passers-by found themselves invited to share in the swing-time exhibition of Willardson cutting a rug with his sweetheart, to rousing Route 66 and other birthday tunes provided by the onboard acapella singers. A birthday cake, compliments of the ship and complete with a strange but appreciated pink Donald Duck, also made the rounds of any and all interested parties.

© Collectors Editions. All Rights Reserved. © Disney.

Like the dizzying, but delightful effect of spinning teacups, the party continued for the duration of the cruise.

A front row guest at auctions, David Willardson took the stage whenever one of his artworks appeared for purchase to shed light on insider origins, meanings and techniques. In particular, families embraced this enriching array of paintings and original creations in serigraphy, lithography and other media. Upon purchase, the most common dedication request dictated that the new family heirloom be earmarked “For Posterity.”

An international art star, David Willardson’s patience never wavered. The artist even went so far as to pop works out of frames and add additional hand-painted embellishments to graphic works. He invited handshakes and long conversations. He offered advice to burgeoning artists and extended a drawing class to all the children aboard the ship.

Not to be outdone, heartfelt applause also surrounded the steps of Willardson’s right hand gal, musician Michelle Shocked. Together for 6 years and very obviously in love, David and Michelle are a tag team of art and entertainment. Shocked was awarded a Grammy for her amazing song, aptly named: Anchorage. Already impressed by their luck in sailing with the likes of Willardson, Infinity cruisers must have made good on the power of wishing stars, as Ms. Shocked graciously agreed to a double-feature, matinee performance – she would sing and he would paint. And it proved to be the concert event of all cruises anywhere.

Fabulous, fascinating, multifaceted, the Celebrity cruise hosting David Willardson provided a unique experience across the board. Brought together by a common love of art or animation or even just idle curiosity, guests found enrichment, entertainment and opportunity in abundance. Converted into a collector or not, those who ventured to the Willardson events appreciated their encounter. Willardson too, it seemed, enjoyed his stay.

A future cruise may be in the works, but more important, Park West shows no signs of flagging in this amazing purpose to clear the air of the art market, expose common stogy myths and in general demystify for the common man the joyful purpose of collecting fine art. In following this mantra for 40 years, it’s little wonder that the gallery stands today at the head table of this art world banquet, and how lucky for clients or cruising vacationers to reap the benefits of the resulting (cruise favorite) feast.

6 Responses to An “Animated” Park West Art Auction at Sea with Disney Artist, David Willardson

  1. […] The Official Blog of Park West Gallery put an intriguing blog post on @ParkWestGal Twitter FeedHere’s a quick excerptBy Erin, Cruise Ship Art Auctioneer © Collectors Editions. All Rights Reserved. © Disney.Considered one of the finest galleries afloat, the Celebrity Infinity always hosts an amazing art collection. Still what a surprise, in eagerness of a visit from world renowned Disney artist, David Willardson, the gallery came alive as never before – one might say it was down-right animated.After 17 years of drawing for Disney, Willardson is now affiliated with the world’s largest art dealer, Park West Galle […]

  2. […] interact with art, and have invited several of their more innovative artists, such as Simon Bull, David Willardson, and Fanch Ledan, to join us onboard select sailings and bring you inside their world. These […]

  3. […] and we are still waiting for the fireplace doors to come in, but I think you get the idea. I think Mr. Willardson would be pleased! We call it the Happy […]

  4. […] his debut, Mickey Mouse has inspired artists of all genres to capture his image in their artwork. “Pep Artist” David Willardson began studying Disney imagery at an early age and pop culture icons like Mickey have been his muses […]

  5. Perry Hanstad says:

    I purchased about 15 Willardson items in 2005 and they still look great on my walls. People never get tired of them

Leave a comment


2 + 8 =

Latest News

  • Park West sponsors 2016 Art + Science auction

    What do the artwork of Christina Burch and the research of Dr. David Pinsky have in common? They both come from the heart. The link between the arts and science were on ...
    Read More
  • The art of nature with David Najar

    Photography can freeze a moment in nature, but the artwork of David Najar goes beyond capturing natural aesthetics by encapsulating the feelings, ambiance and beauty of nature. When viewing ...
    Read More
  • Park West Gallery hosts Artistic Discovery Contest winners

    Park West Gallery was pleased to encourage the next generation of artists by hosting the awards ceremony for the 2016 Artistic Discovery Contest on April 23. This national competition, ...
    Read More
  • Huffington Post features Park West’s expansion into Asia

    A recent article published in the Huffington Post explores how Park West Gallery could influence the Asian art market. According to the article, the cruise industry is booming in ...
    Read More
  • Autism Society Oakland County hosts Walk 4 Autism  

    In its continued effort to raise awareness for autism, Park West Gallery is supporting the 2016 Walk 4 Autism to benefit Autism Society ...
    Read More
  • Lebo tapestry harkens to artist Joan Miro

    David “Lebo” Le Batard seeks inspiration from history, philosophy, music and science for his art, but one of his more unique creations owes its genesis to artist
    Read More
  • Park West celebrates 10 years with Farmington Musicale

    Bill Baxtresser, a Chicago-based musician, filled the Nardin Park United Methodist Church in Farmington, Michigan with notes skillfully belted from his trumpet. The passionate performance was held during the
    Read More
  • Autumn de Forest stuns crowds with Butler Institute exhibition

    Autumn de Forest, who is collected around the world and represented by Park West Gallery, has promoted art education in U.S. schools and received an international award from ...
    Read More
  • Art and health: The benefits of viewing art

    When viewing Park West art at our Michigan gallery or aboard more than 100 cruise ships, you may find more than a wonderful work of art to collect. Recent studies ...
    Read More
  • The science of Guy Harvey art

    Observing a work of art by Guy Harvey is like leaping into the ocean and watching the wildlife swim before your eyes. But what makes Harvey’s artwork so lifelike? To ...
    Read More
  • Park West Gallery aboard Koningsdam for maiden voyage

    Holland America Line set sail with its first-ever Pinnacle-class ship, Koningsdam, on April 8, and Park West Gallery was on board to celebrate the occasion. Holland America ...
    Read More
  • Take the Linda Le Kinff Quiz

    French artist Linda Le Kinff has traveled the world, created art for celebrated sports events and mastered many techniques. Test your knowledge about Le Kinff and her artwork ...
    Read More