Art collection and anime aren’t usually two worlds that intersect very often. While art books from films, video games, and TV are more common these days, it’s gotten incredibly rare to find physical pieces of work from the production process as studios switch over to digital animation. Those physical pieces of art, when available for purchase, often come with a hefty price tag, especially for the most coveted item from a production: the production cel.
Production cels, or celluloid, are acetate sheets used by artists in hand-drawn animation, and often make up the bulk of what viewers see on screen. Characters and important details in the foreground of a shot are drawn and/or painted on, placed against a background sheet, and that frame becomes one frame of a particular scene. Hand-drawn animation often relied on thousands of sheets for a film to be produced. A video showcasing an animator working on a Mickey Mouse cartoon shows how the individual cels were placed in order to create the illusion of movement for a scene.
Now the auction house Bonhams of New York is holding a “World of Anime” auction event, with over 150 pieces of art, including production cels from Dragon Ball Z, Pokémon, and My Neighbor Totoro. Though if you want to get your hands on one, you should have been saving for a rainy day as the crown jewel of this auction collection is a production cel from Kiki’s Delivery Service; which is previewed in the article’s header; the original cel’s price is estimated at $15,000–$25,000 US dollars.
The event will be held online over Zoom from January 24th through February 2nd and will also include an online seminar titled “Inside the World of Anime.” Surprisingly, this isn’t even the first anime art event auction houses have held. In 2021, Heritage Auctions of New York held two “Art of Anime and Everything Cool” auctions. The first auction sold over 2.1 million US dollars worth of art and was the first auction of its kind to focus on anime art pieces.
But for those who are making it rain from their eyes and not their wallets, there is still hope, as lithographs, or printed reproductions of these cels, are often produced by companies and sold for more affordable price points in the hundreds of dollars instead of in the tens of thousands. Sure, your eyes and your wallet might still cry a bit, but at least you’ll have something pretty to look at as you do.
Source: Anime News Network