Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Business of Animation Logo

Legends of Animation: 10 Best Animators of All Time

ben marvazi 2020

Make More Money as an Animator

Check out our FREE TRAINING on How Animators Can Make Over $10,000 Per Month

Learn From the Best Animators of All Time

Animation is not just an art form; it's a captivating universe, brimming with creativity and imagination. 

At the heart of this magical world are the animators - the visionaries who bring stories to life and turn dreams into visual reality. Their work transcends mere entertainment, shaping our culture and touching the hearts of generations.

fireworks from Howl's Moving Castle

Cover GIF via GIPHY

From classic fairy tales to modern digital masterpieces, animation has evolved remarkably over the years. This evolution has been driven by talented individuals who dared to dream and innovate. 

In this blog post, we'll journey through the world of animation, honoring the legends of animation by listing the 10 Best Animators of All Time. 

These trailblazers have not only mastered the art but have also revolutionized it, leaving a legacy that continues to inspire future animators.

The Evolution of Animation

Before listing the best animators of all time, it’s important to know a bit of animation history. 

The story of animation is a fascinating journey through time. It began with simple hand-drawn images and has evolved into a complex art form that seamlessly blends technology and storytelling.

The Early Animation Years

The early days of animation were defined by pioneering works such as the iconic Gertie the Dinosaur by Winsor McCay, which introduced the world to the potential of animated storytelling. 

an old animation of a man drinking

GIF by Det Danske Filminstitut via GIPHY

As the years progressed, so did the techniques and tools of the trade, leading to the golden age of animation in the 1930s and 40s. This era saw the rise of legendary studios like Disney and Warner Bros, setting new standards for character animation and storytelling.

The Advent of TV

The advent of television in the 1950s and 60s brought animation into homes, giving rise to a new wave of animated TV shows. 

The late 20th century witnessed the rise of computer-generated imagery (CGI), revolutionizing the industry with movies like "Toy Story," which opened up endless possibilities for animators.

Animation Today

Today, animation is a diverse field that encompasses a wide range of styles and techniques, from traditional hand-drawn animation to cutting-edge digital productions. 

The evolution of animation is a testament to the creativity and resilience of its artists, who constantly push the boundaries of what's possible in animation, which brings us to the best animators of all time.

1. Walt Disney

walt disney as a young man

Image via Liveabout

Walt Disney, often hailed as the godfather of animation, revolutionized the industry with his pioneering work. 

Disney's move into feature-length films, including classics like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Fantasia," set new benchmarks for storytelling

His innovations, such as the multiplane camera technique, not only enhanced the visual depth but also enriched character development, making his creations timeless masterpieces that continue to inspire.

2. Chuck Jones

Chuck Jones, a legend of the Golden Age of Animation and one of the best animators of all time, is best remembered for his work on "Looney Tunes." 

Chuck jones interacting with Bugs Bunny

Image via MeTV

His unique blend of vibrant slapstick humor and expressive animation brought to life iconic characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the Road Runner. Jones' ability to infuse personality into animations set a new standard for character development in the industry.

3. Hayao Miyazaki

As the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki is a master storyteller and easily of the the best animators of all time. His works, such as "Spirited Away," "My Neighbor Totoro," and "Princess Mononoke," are renowned for their immersive worlds

hayao miyazaki drinking tea


Miyazaki's films uniquely blend stunning visuals with environmental themes and heartfelt narratives, captivating audiences around the globe.

4. Tex Avery

Tex Avery, another luminary from the Looney Tunes era, is celebrated for his wild and zany animation style. 

Tex Avery

Image via Wikipedia

His groundbreaking work in creating characters like Droopy and Woody Woodpecker pushed the boundaries of the medium. Avery's influence is evident in a wide array of animated works, from classic cartoons to modern adult animation.

5. Osamu Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka, often referred to as the "Godfather of Manga," is a pivotal figure in Japanese animation. His creation of Astro Boy, one of the earliest and most successful anime series, laid the foundation for the modern anime industry. 

Osamu Tezuka

Image via Getty Images

His innovative storytelling and artistic style have left a lasting impact on animation and manga.

6. John Lasseter

John Lasseter, a key figure at Pixar Animation Studios, is one of the best animators of all time in terms of computer animation. His directorial work in films like "Toy Story," "A Bug's Life," and "Cars" showcases his knack for innovative storytelling and technical prowess. 

John Lasseter

Image via Rotten Tomatoes

Lasseter's commitment to pushing the boundaries of computer animation has redefined the genre.

7. Nick Park

Nick Park is easily one of the best animators of all time. Renowned for his mastery of stop-motion animation, his work has captivated audiences with his Wallace and Gromit series. 

Nick park posing with a Gromit statue

Image by Dave Hogan

His meticulous attention to detail, combined with a unique sense of humor and heartwarming storytelling, has earned him numerous accolades. Park's work continues to be a source of inspiration for animators worldwide.

8. Joanna Quinn

Joanna Quinn stands as a pioneer in independent animation and one of the best animators of all time in her own right. Her films are celebrated for their raw emotional depth, personal themes, and distinct style. 

Joanna Quinn in front of her animation desk

Image via Wikipedia

Quinn's use of various techniques, including cut-out animation and pixilation, creates powerful and thought-provoking works that challenge the norms of animation.

9. Sylvain Chomet

Sylvain Chomet, a notable French animator, is lauded for films like "The Triplets of Belleville" and "The Illusionist”, and is among the best animators of all time. 

Sylvain Chomet

Image via TV Tropes

His work, which artfully blends traditional animation with digital elements, is both visually stunning and emotionally resonant. Chomet's unique style has contributed significantly to the world of animation.

10. Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton is an independent animator known for his dark humor and surreal visuals and one of the best animators of all time in the field of surreal animation. Plympton has created thought-provoking films such as "Your Face" and "Idiots and Angels." 

poster of the book "Independently Animated: Bill Plympton: The Life and Art of the King of Indie Animation"

Image via Amazon

Plympton's distinctive style challenges the conventional boundaries of animation, making him a prolific and influential figure in the industry.

Carrying the Torch Forward From the Best Animators of All Time

The legacies of these ten best animators of all time remind us that animation is more than just a medium; it's a canvas for storytelling, innovation, and boundless creativity. 

Each of these pioneers, from Walt Disney's timeless classics to Hayao Miyazaki's captivating narratives and John Lasseter's digital marvels, has contributed uniquely to the tapestry of animation.

a torch burning


The work of the best animators of all time goes beyond mere entertainment; it's a source of inspiration, teaching current and aspiring animators about the power of imagination, the importance of perseverance, and the beauty of bringing dreams to life.

If you're looking to become among the best animators of all time, remember that the path is paved with both challenges and triumphs. 

Embrace the journey, and if you’re an animator who’s looking to start your own studio or grow your career, check out our blog on How to Start an Animation Studio and GET FREE TRAINING to kickstart your animation career today.

rocket for boa

Lacking Business Skills as an Animator?

Transform your animation skills into a profitable business with our expert-led free training.
Business of Animation Footer Logo
Helping Animators Succeed

Feeling Stuck in Your Animation Career? Learn How to Break the $10,000 Per Month Barrier!

crossmenuchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram