Baseman, Gary 1960-

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BASEMAN, Gary 1960-

PERSONAL:

Born 1960; son of Ben (an electrician) and Naomi (a head bakery salesperson) Baseman; married Mel Williges (an illustrator), 1983. Education: University of California, Los Angeles, graduate.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Hancock Park, CA. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

Artist, film producer, toy designer, and humorist. Executive producer of Disney television program and film Teacher's Pet; freelance designer for such clients as Nike, Chili's, Gatorade, Mercedes-Benz, Labatt, and Thomas Cook. Exhibitions: Work included in permanent collections at National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, and Museum of Modern Art, Rome, Italy. Baseman's art has been displayed in New York, Los Angeles, Rome, and Tokyo.

MEMBER:

Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Three-time Emmy Award winner for Teacher's Pet; named among 100 Most Creative People in Entertainment by Entertainment Weekly.

WRITINGS:

(Illustrator) William H. Hooks, A Dozen Dizzy Dogs, Bantam (New York, NY), 1990.

(And illustrator) Dumb Luck (collected works), Chronicle (San Francisco, CA), 2004.

(Illustrator) John Harris, Strong Stuff: Herakles and His Labors, J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA), 2005.

Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including New Yorker, Time, New York Times, and Rolling Stone.

SIDELIGHTS:

Gary Baseman is the award-winning creator and executive producer of Teacher's Pet, a Disney television show featuring a dog who decides to disguise himself as a boy so he can go to school. He is also a designer and an illustrator of children's books and of board games such as Cranium. Baseman "has the magical ability to look into the minds of cute little cartoon animals and masterfully paint their feverish, unsettled dreams," Matt Groening told Anne Burke in UCLA Magazine. As an artist, Baseman defines himself as an advocate of "pervasive art," which he explains is "art that has a cohesive style and message but which crosses traditional boundaries between the worlds of fine art and commerce," according to Burke. This focus has led Baseman to create images and ideas that have qualities of fine art yet have a commercial-oriented, mass appeal. A large-format collection showcasing many examples of Baseman's independent artwork was published in 2004 under the title Dumb Luck; it was praised by Booklist contributor Gordon Flagg as a "dazzling volume [that] attests to Baseman's success."

Although Baseman illustrated his first children's book in 1990, it took some time for him to get into the children's entertainment market. As he explained to Steven Heller in Print, it was seven years after he completed his first pilot that he finally saw Teacher's Pet reach the airwaves. "In creating a TV series, storytelling is everything," the artist told Heller. "I love funny drawings. [But] with interesting visuals alone, you can capture someone's attention only for a moment." Baseman's unique approach ultimately caught the attention of viewers and critics alike; he went on to win three Emmy awards for his work on the cartoon series, and Teacher's Pet went on to become a full-length animated movie featuring the voice of Tony award-winner Nathan Lane as Spot, the dog.

After Teacher's Pet went off the air, Baseman continued in a variety of creative endeavors, including creating illustrations for John Harris's retelling of Greek myths in Strong Stuff: Herakles and His Labors. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote of the book that "Baseman matches Harris's breezy tone with big, cartoony scenes." School Library Journal critic Judith Constantinides felt that, although the illustrations are cartoonish, they "faithfully reproduce the salient points of each incident," while Booklist critic Gillian Engberg deemed Baseman's "wildly colored, energetic" cartoons "hilarious and instantly accessible."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 15, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of Dumb Luck, p. 1587; November 15, 2005, Gillian Engberg, review of Strong Stuff: Herakles and His Labors, p. 39.

Choice, October, 2004, R.M. Labuz, review of Dumb Luck, p. 179.

Fast Company, April, 2004, Lucas Conley, "60 Seconds with Gary Baseman," p. 41.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2005, review of Strong Stuff, p. 915.

Library Journal, May 1, 2004, David A. Beronia, review of Dumb Luck, p. 104.

Los Angeles Magazine, August, 1999, R.J. Smith, "Graphic Artist," p. 32; January, 2004, Robert Ito, "Zoo Revue," p. 22.

Print, January, 2001, Steven Heller, "Back Talk," p. 36.

Publishers Weekly, September 5, 2005, review of Strong Stuff, p. 62.

School Library Journal, May, 1991, April L. Judge, review of A Dozen Dizzy Dogs, p. 74; November, 2005, Judith Constantinides, review of Strong Stuff, p. 116.

Seventeen, February, 2004, Anne Telford, review of Dumb Luck, p. 197.

Time, February 2, 2004, Richard Corliss, "Best in Show," p. 73.

UCLA Magazine, winter, 2004, Anne Burke, "Off the Wall."

ONLINE

Cranium Web site,http://www.cranium.com/ (November 6, 2006), profile of Baseman.

Gary Baseman Home Page,http://www.garybaseman.com (November 6, 2006).*