The comic-book devotee may be the resident geek in many a film, but in the art world cartoon characters can mean big business – and Russell Singler, a self-confessed “animation superfan” and founder of art emporium Art You Grew Up With, knows it.
“We had a Snow White production cel [celluloid], which sold recently for £120,000, and a Peter Pan production cel for £30,000,” says Singler, who has been sourcing works for a vast clientele – from Prince Albert of Monaco to the man who used to clean the street outside his old London gallery (“He’s a big Disney fan”) – since he founded the business 16 years ago. All his finds are available from the online store and, although he has a presence in Selfridges and a few galleries dotted around the UK, this is the only location where you will find his complete – and extensive – inventory of works.
You can search by character – Batman, Bagpuss, The Bash Street Kids – or via the extensive artist and studio lists, which include names such as illustrator Bob Dob and Batman’s Bruce Timm, alongside venerable studios including Disney, Dreamworks and MGM.
Original animation cels and comic sketches abound – when I visited I found a simple layout pencil drawing from the 1951 animated short Two Mouseketeers for £712.50. There is also a wide selection of limited-edition prints – the “Mr Benn Costume parade”, featuring Mr Benn in 16 different outfits, signed by Mr Benn’s creator, David McKee, is particularly popular (100-piece limited edition, pictured, £125 each). And there is a section dedicated to fine-art pieces from pop art artists including Andy Warhol’s former assistant, the late Steve Kaufman, whom Singler represented for 12 years, and Paul Karslake’s airbrushed fine art and portraiture.
The site also features a Live Chat option should clients need advice, and Singler is prepared to hunt down pieces should you not find what you’re looking for. “In the past we’ve sourced an original artwork used in the making of the 1970s Spider-Man cartoon, and a limited-edition print that a client remembered seeing when he visited Disney World in 1990.”