SPIRIT OF STANLY 2024: Craig has always been drawn to art

Tony Craig is an artist, photographer and cartoonist who grew up in Albemarle before heading west in 1989 to follow his dream of working for the Walt Disney Company. Along the way he spent two years at the California Institute of the Arts studying character animation and design before being hired into the animation industry, not as expected at Disney, but at Warner Brothers on the original iteration of “Tiny Toon Adventures.” However, he soon moved to the Disney company to work as an in-between animator on “The Rescuers Down Under” before returning to Warner to storyboard on “Animaniacs.”

Next he moved on to Hanna-Barbera for a two year period, finally returning to Disney’s television animation unit as executive producer/director on “The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa,” “101 Dalmatians” (TV series), “House of Mouse,” “Lilo and Stitch” (TV series), two video sequels to “Lilo and Stitch” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” Notable figures in the industry Tony was able to work with and meet were Maurice Noble, Chuck Jones, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, Gene Kelly and Walt Disney’s nephew Roy E. Disney.

In 2008, Tony returned to North Carolina and began devoting more time to his own artwork and continuing to freelance in the animation industry.

Tony has spent hundreds of hours driving the back roads of the state looking for relics of days gone by, such as old country stores, vintage signs, barns, milling companies and other landmarks. After capturing them with his camera, he creates watercolor portraits of these places, which can be found in museum and corporate collections across America and www.tonycraig.art.

Recent projects included working with Disney Asia on a new Stitch series (from Lilo and Stitch fame), Cartoon Network’s “Craig of the Creek” and “Jessica’s Big Little World” and Warner Brothers’ “Scooby Doo Guess Who” and the reboot of “Animaniacs.”

Tony’s mother and father, Sylvia and the late Douglas Craig, were musicians who taught middle school and high school band, respectively, in the western part of Stanly County from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Douglas Craig also was a member of the Stanly County Concert Band, playing baritone and French horn. He passed in 2022.

His father, Doug Craig, pictured, and mother Sylvia were band teachers in Stanly County Schools and involved with the Stanly County Concert Band. (Contributed)

This article previously appeared in the Spirit of Stanly magazine.