Dan Hansen was born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA. He earned his BA degree in Motion Picture and Television Production from the University of California, Los Angeles. While there he was exposed to films primarily from the U. S., Russia, Sweden, and Japan, and portions of these films play a roll in his courses at CalArts. After graduating from UCLA he attended Art Center College of Design where he was recruited by Walt Disney Pictures in 1975. For 27 years he was a layout artist, artistic coordinator, layout department supervisor and art director with Walt Disney Feature Animation where he worked on 12 animated features including “Aladdin”, “Pocahontas”, and “The Emperor's New Groove”. “It was an amazing time to be at Disney because many of the 'Nine Old Men' were still working when I started. In the years after they retired the studio was on a huge growth-curve which resulted in some good films like ‘Aladdin’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ’Pocahontas’ and ‘Lion King’.”
In the mid 1980s through 1990, while still working for Disney, Dan started teaching at CalArts. His teaching experience also includes Woodbury University, Brandes Art Institute, and The American Animation Institute. In 2002 he returned to CalArts where he teaches full time.
“The way I teach classes is completely tilted toward character animation. Our students aren't going to college to learn how to be architects or bank tellers. They're going to college to learn how to be animation filmmakers, so they need to be educated with that in mind.” Some of his students have gone on to be key people at Pixar, Disney, and other studios.
Dan's responsibilities at CalArts include being the Program Co Director of the Program in Character Animation, teaching courses in perspective and in layout to freshmen and sophomores respectively, as well as mentoring students and reviewing portfolios.