Deane Taylor

I recently spent a pleasant afternoon with artist Deane Taylor, to interview him and take photographs for Transitions.

After spending many years working in animation and film interstate and overseas, Deane returned, with his family, to South Australia in 2000 and settled in the Adelaide Hills where he continues to pursue his remarkable career.

Sitting in his cosy living area surrounded by quirky décor and a great many artworks (including quite a few of his own), Deane talked about his experience of living and growing up in Elizabeth as well as his extraordinary professional history.

Deane 1978

Deane, 1978

Deane and I have known each other for many decades and I was concerned that our familiarity might make interviewing him tricky. Being totally engaged could be difficult while covering old ground. As it turned out, there were quite a few things about Deane I didn’t know. These revelations helped me understand even more what an amazing life and career Deane has led despite Elizabeth roots many might see as a disadvantage.

From humble beginnings working in department store display, Deane, through a life-changing, chance meeting with Bill Hanna of Hanna Barbera fame, went on to work in animation for television and feature films here in Australia and overseas. A highlight was art directing the cult classic, Tim Burton-produced, Nightmare Before Christmas. Recently he completed work as director of the soon-to-be-released Blinky Bill. Deane is currently working on his own animated feature, Jinko, which is a very exciting and satisfying development in his career.

Deane in Melbourne where he presented a talk on Nightmare Before Christmas in conjunction with Tim Burton: The Exhibition at ACMI, 2010.

Deane in Melbourne where he presented a talk on Nightmare Before Christmas in conjunction with Tim Burton: The Exhibition at ACMI, 2010.

After our chat, I set about photographing Deane. Beginning with a formal portrait in his living area, we moved to his studio to take more informal photos. At once both highly organised and chaotic, Deane’s studio is a wonderful space decorated with many reminders of his fascinating career in the form of figurines, paintings, drawings and all sorts of other intriguing objects.

Deane, 2015

Deane, 2015


Photographs done, we wrapped up with a few more minutes of reminiscing. Deane said he’d never realised there was stigma attached to being from Elizabeth. That was until, as a teenager, he ventured out to rock-and-roll gigs in the city and was shocked to have people look down their noses at him because of where he came from.

His response? “It made me try a bit harder, or at least to be seen to be trying a bit harder,” he laughs. “Not really to prove anything but to kind of rub people’s noses in the fact that you can think whatever you want – we are successful at whatever level.”