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Daniel Killen was born in 1965 and raised along the coast of Southern California, where he still lives and calls home. The youngest of four, Daniel’s family originally immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1963. Always feeling like an outsider, he began creating and using his imagination to cope with his own shyness. As a child, Daniel created creatures and worlds out of clay, cardboard, and any other items lying around the house. His love for creating grew to include illustrating and painting all of which set the course for his life’s goal of being an artist.
His artistic career began creating designs for a t-shirt business, but in his spare time he was working as a freelance artist designing theatrical backdrops and props used in CBS afterschool specials, produced by his Emmy-award winning brother, Michael. He was given the opportunity through a Disney artist to produce clean-up line work for Western Publishing on Walt Disney licensed creations. This included work onLittle Golden Books, featuring Mickey Mouse and Goofy, the PocahontasGiant Activity Book, and The Hunchback of Notre Damecoloring books. Daniel’s work has consistently been accepted into visual design competitions, including the Orange County Fair, where he has won numerous first place awards. Daniel’s latest book illustrations can be found in the 2013 children’s book Lessons from Sarah the Catfor a Southern California Charity, Pathways to Independence.
He studied animation at Roland Animation School in Hacienda, California. Learning the basics of 2D animation principles, Daniel was recruited in mid-1995 by Warner Bros. where he worked in their animation division on Space Jamstarring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. Trained primarily in visual effects, he fulfilled a lifelong dream on his first professional Hollywood project by getting to work with all of the classic Looney Tunes characters. Performing tasks as an animator’s assistant, he was given the responsibility of animating certain EFX scenes on his own. These experiences lead to work on eight additional animated feature films over the next eight years for Warner Bros. and DreamWorks SKG Animation Studio. Daniel also created concept and prop designs for Warner Bros. The Iron Giant, directed by Brad Bird, where he designed the giant’s visual readout, including the font design used in all scenes where the giant’s viewfinder was shown. He also was responsible for the creation of other items in the movie as well as the words ATOMIC HOLOCOST, which reads across the main character’s Duck and Coverschool safety film.
His other movies for Warner Bros. were The Quest for Camelotand Osmosis Joneswith Bill Murray. DreamWorks SKG projects included working in the EFX department, on Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. He also did freelance work for Rich Animation’s The King and I. Daniel continued to hone his drawing and painting skills in classes provide by the major studios, as well as the Animators Union.
Daniel now works with the Chuck Jones Gallery bringing to canvas such inspired Warner Bros. properties as The Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Story, The Iron Giant, and the classic Looney Tunes characters Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, Daffy Duck, and the Road Runner. Greatly influenced by such artistic giants as Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper, Frank Frazetta, and Chuck Jones, Daniel incorporates sly wit, poetic beauty, and adventurous themes into his work. He brings his whimsical sense of humor, pleasing colors, and clever layout to all his creative endeavors. In 2018, Daniel was chosen by the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta to create the poster for the 2018 Fiesta and to conceptualize and execute the designs for future posters leading up to the 50th Anniversary of the Fiesta in 2021.
Daniel lives by two inspirational quotes from French Director Robert Bresson: “Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen. “, and “Bring together things that have not yet been brought together and did not seem predisposed to be so.”
Kim Judge is Balloon Fiesta’s Navigator and RV Manager. She works to help volunteers provide guests with the best experience possible.
Take a look at this month’s Inside the Basket, where we explore what it takes to become a Navigator and why Kim does the job that she does.
Liz Spielman (pictured on the left) is one of many employees who works year-round at Balloon Fiesta to make the event such a success. Starting as the Event Assistant in 2017, she has recently moved into the position of Event Coordinator. Read more about Liz’s Balloon Fiesta story in this month’s Inside the Basket.
John Davis is a member of the Balloon Fiesta Heritage Committee, as well as a co-author of a recent award winning book. As a Balloon Fiesta participant for more than 40 years, he brings a wealth of ballooning knowledge and experience.
This month’s Inside the Basket gives a look into his ballooning background and the co-authored book that paints the stupendous picture that Balloon Fiesta is.
Elizabeth Wright-Smith, pilot of the special shape balloon ¢ent’r Stage, the Wells Fargo Stagecoach, has been a part of the ballooning world since she was a young child. Even before becoming a pilot and moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico, she was involved with Balloon Fiesta.
In this month’s Inside the Basket, Beth shares her ballooning background and information about the special shape balloon that she pilots.