Graphic designer Heinz Edelmann, best known for his work as the art director of the classic animated Beatles film Yellow Submarine, has died; he was 75. Edelmann died in a Stuttgart, Germany hospital not far from Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts where he taught design for many years. No cause of death was announced.
Heinz Edelmann was born in 1934 in Aussig, Czechoslovakia. He studied at the Duesseldorf Art Academy and upon graduation became a freelance graphic designer. In 1961 Heinz Edelmann began teaching design, illustration and animation design at various art schools in Holland and Germany. As a graphic designer, Edelmann is mostly known for his advertising and poster work, especially for the broadcasting station Westdeutscher Rundfunk and his innovative book cover designs for the publishing house Klett-Cotta, which includes the first German edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings in 1971. Edelmann in 1989 won the competition to design the mascot of Seville's Expo '92 World Fair, beating out two dozen other entries with his illustration of a pudgy bird with a rainbow plume and conical beak named Curro.
But his greatest fame stems from his art direction for the 1968 film Yellow Submarine; he also received co-credit for the script. Edelmann was originally hired for only eight weeks to create the design for the film, but wound up working for almost an entire year. Because of the lack of direction, an incomplete screenplay, and the enormous deadline pressure -- the producers reserved the July 17, 1968 date for the debut at The London Pavillion before the production was even finished -- Edelmann took on the long ordeal personally. Sleeping only four hours most every night, he led some 200-plus artists to create a visionary work that would be worthy of the most famous band in the world. Edelmann’s health took a major nosedive; he said it took almost two years to recover from the project. Needless to say, Yellow Submarine left a somewhat sour taste in his mouth. On top of that, Yellow Submarine has sometimes been inaccurately attributed to one of the most famous artist of the era, Peter Max. However Edelmann, along with another of his contemporaries, Milton Glaser, is thought to have pioneered the 1960’s psychedelic style for which Max would later become famous. According to Edelmann and film producer Al Brodax, Max had nothing to do with the production. But other notable illustrators did work on the film including Paul Driessen, Tony Cuthbert, Ron Campbell, and the film’s overall director George Dunning (he also worked on the Beatles cartoon series), who created the "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" sequence.