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Where pen & paper have their part: Mason Sibley touches hearts with art BY JEFF MORROW | JULY 10, 2019

Local published illustrator, Mason Sibley, still enjoys drawing classic Disney animated characters and superheroes. That’s because Mason is only 16 years old. His drawing “career” began at an early age.

“Three years old, they used to give me coloring books," Mason said. "Naturally, you give your 3 year old coloring books to fill in time and I would always pick up the book and say, 'I really like that design on it. I don’t want to color it. I want to do it myself.'”

Humble beginnings

Mason began his professional career at 12 years old after meeting with local children’s book author, Kat Pigott, who was struggling to find an animator for her new book series, Green Dinosaur Pancakes.

“It was a catastrophe," Pigott recalled. "No one could do it. They’re like, ‘What are you talking about? No, no, no ,no.’”

She found her illustrator by chance.

Pigott says she saw an article about Mason in the local newspaper and met with the preteen at a local subway.

“I said, ‘Mason, could you draw me a picture of a dinosaur coming out of a pancake? Like the pancake is turning into this real dinosaur?’ And he did it.”

In the book business, it's rare that the author and illustrator ever meet. It’s also rare that a book’s illustrator is not even in high school yet.

"It was really cool because I was able to sit there and literally just talk with her and come up with a design kind of on the spot," Mason said. "Something that we both liked."

Kat and Mason have completed two books in the series so far. You can find the books at local book stores or on Amazon.

Sky is the limit

Mason’s artistic talents don’t just end with drawing. With the book being about dinosaur pancakes, Mason became an expert in pancake art.

“Any kind of new art, I want to try it. 'Cause, you know, if you stick to something too long, you’re not going to be able to explore and branch out.”

'god-given' talent

Mason's artistic talents are numerous and varied. He draws on paper and on his tablet. He also paints canvas and faces for theatrical performances. Mason builds sand art, paints murals and set designs, does stick art, pumpkin carvings, and animation cells. You get the idea... The sky's the limit with this kid.

“We always said it’s a God-given talent. He’s never really had an art lesson and I can’t draw, so it’s just a God-given talent,” Mason's father, Troy Sibley, said.

Learning from the best

Mason’s art has also caught the attention of Disney. He has always had a fascination with Walt Disney. Every opportunity he had, he would go to Disney World and try to meet and network with animators at the company. A few animators have even become mentors to Mason.

“It’s just phenomenal having people there to guide me in that field, but also critique me and make sure you stay grounded."

Moving forward

The only thing that makes Mason hesitant about a career in animation is the direction the industry, particularly the movie industry, is moving towards.

“Growing up, I did all this research. I did everything you could think of researching Disney. Unfortunately, I researched the 50s [when animation was drawn]," Mason said. "Animation though, is now click move, click move, click move. If it continues down the digital path, I’d probably go towards the designing group because that is where pen and paper still have their part."

Art for healing

Mason still makes time for special projects he holds dear. He designs bead boxes for pediatric cancer patients in New Orleans. Every time a cancer patient makes a breakthrough in their treatment, they put a bead in the box.

Instead of giving them a plain, boring box, Mason paints Disney characters on them and "spruces them up."

Mason has truly just scratched the surface when it comes to his art. He graduates high school in May of 2020 and is looking forward to going to art school. He ultimately hopes to work for Disney after he graduates college.

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