A native Californian, Joel Christopher Payne’s story starts with a life changing moment at the age four that would change the course of his life forever. Joel tells us, “My earliest memory that inspired my career came when I was riding on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and I looked up to my mom and said, Look Mom! Look how real the robots are!! At which point my mother without hesitation replied , -son, those are the waiters at the Blue Bayou… You’d think I was destroyed… but it was in that moment that I realized just how amazing Walt Disney really was. I couldn’t tell difference between the fantasy and the real thing and I knew that I wanted to learn how to harness this kind of unique magic!” Disneyland and Disney feature animation would ignited a lifelong passion in Joel that would lead him to inspire others through his own style of breakthrough art.
While Payne didn’t have any formal artistic training, at age 20, he would embark on a 22 year career that would be forge through the fires of on-the-job experience. “When I started doing digital art, computers could only handle 16 colors!” His passion would bring him to design elaborate worlds for 3D TV shows, Triple “A” video games, and multiple virtual reality rides. Industry training required perseverance in acquiring the skills and discipline that would prove to serve him well in future endeavors on his path to artistic freedom. In 1993, Joel’s big break would come from a company called ‘New World Computing’ a game company known for the popular “Might and Magic” Series. His talents were manifested in the service of building the worlds for six videos games over the next several years. His very first game project “Heroes of Might and Magic” became critically acclaimed and is currently on it’s 7th sequel. In 1995 Joel would become one of the youngest video game directors pioneering techniques is Digital Set creation three years before Robert Stromberg would coin the phrase “Digital Backlot.” In 1996, Joel finally got his chance to work with Disney on “Disney’s Virtual Jungle Cruise” ride still in operation in Florida’s Disneyquest. Responsible for creating the rides river rafting track and 3D backgrounds, Payne learned from Disney Imagineers about the power of storytelling, color and lighting techniques that he still uses in his paintings today. From 1996 to present day, Joel would go on to build 3D worlds for Steven Spielberg’s “Sky Pirates”, Art Directing Disney’s Atlantis the video game, Mortal Kombat:Shaolin Monks, Max Steel and Star Ship Troopers:Roughnecks, Silent Hill:Homecoming and Baldur’s Gate:Dark Alliance. He would also score film music for world renown Stan Winston.
In 2008 Joel would head up Universal Studios very first virtual version of their world famous Backlot facades creating digital doubles of the famous “Back to the future courtyard” and in 2009 Joel’s company Digital Backlot would design 75 original 3D characters for the project Growums. Featured on the show “The View” Joel not only animated the growums characters, but like Walt, voiced several of the lead characters to the tune of more than 100 cartoons.
In 2011 Payne began in earnest his dreams of pursuing a fine art career signing a deal with Disney as a fine artist. With inspiration and influence from his Disney and entertainment pedigree. Joel Payne has a new found energy and dedication for his inventive new form of mixed media artwork dubbed “Believable Fantasy” a hybrid of 3D modeling and traditional oil painting techniques. His original painting technique creates a level of depth, color, lighting and detail that has collectors saying “WOW.” Taking cues from artists like Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kinkade, Joel blurs the line between the real and fantastic. When asked about his latest works Joel said, ‘Every painting that I do, I want to have the word “WOW” be the thing the viewer expresses most because this is what I felt about Disneyland as a little boy. I want folks to walk by my artwork and fall into it, live in it and escape for a while. I think this is why I began creating this type of magic in the first place, to make the illusion as believable as possible so that I could inspire others to live the magic Walt created in my life”