Claude Coats spent longer working on various Disney amusement parks than he did painting backgrounds for Disney shorts and animated features. But in the thirties, forties and early fifties, he was a key artist in the background department. About Disney's second feature Pinocchio, he had this to say:
Claude Coats: Gustaf Tenggren did a lot of work on "Pinocchio." He was really kind of a fairy-tale book illustrator, and a very capable guy. He had that nice style. In fact, I think I worked with him just before "Pinocchio" on "Little Hiawatha." He did some drawings on that and I did backgrounds for it. We kind of worked along with him, and we tried to get a kind of pen-and-ink style on that.
["Litte Hiawatha"] was a little bit the forerunner of the style of "Pinocchio." Tenggren's style was really pen-and-ink and wash. But it turned out that pen-and-ink at that time didn't feel quite right. Now we're into it with the Xerox process, but at that time it felt like it didn't have any depth to it. It had that line kind of hanging around everything. Of course, we accept it now.
But Tenggren got into the style of architecture in the buildings [on "Pinocchio"]. He was following right after "Snow White" where it had a little of the carved work, so this was a litte more colorful and a little more like the painted villages and the Bavarian architecture of a fairy-tale land.
I think Gufstaf left before "Pinocchio" was finished. He didn't really get into the backgrounds at all. He was mostly involved in the early style of the picture. In background, we'd take Tenggren's reasonable ideas or concepts for a scene. The layout people had already used them in doing their work, and we'd look for coloring and ideas of decoration. ...
Claude worked at WED-Imagineering until 1989, when he retired after fifty-four years with the company. He passed away in 1992, age 78.