Vladimir (Bill) Peter Tytla was born on October 25, 1904 in Yonkers, New York. His Ukrainian immigrant parents recognized and encouraged their sons talent. In 1914 (Tytla was 9) he visited Manhattan to attend Winsor McCay's vaudeville act, 'Gertie the Dinosaur'. He never forgot it, and some say it changed his life forever.
Tytla attended the New York Evening School of Industrial Design while still in high school, but eventually high school lost out to his interest in art and he quit. In 1920 at age 16 Tytla was working for the Paramount animation studio in New York lettering title cards. He was nicknamed "Tytla the Titler". His first animation experience was on Mutt & Jeff shorts at Raoul Barre's in the Bronx and 'Joy and Bloom Phable' at John Terry's Greenwich Village studio. Johns brother Paul soon hired Tytla to work on his Aesop's Fables. Within three years he was earning a very good salary as an animator and supporting his family. Animation at that time didn't require such good drawing skills and Tytla dreamed of becoming a fine artist. He took up his studies again at the Art Students League and studied under Boardman Robinson. In 1929 he sailed for Europe with some of his school friends to study painting in Paris. There he not only studied painting, but sculpture with Charles Despiau. This has been attributed to the weight and three-dimensionality of his work. In Europe he was able to see first hand the masterpieces he had only read about. True to his nature of never wanting to be second best he came to the conclusion that he could never top these masters and destroyed most of his work. The above self portrait is on of the few that survive from this period of his life.
Tytla returned to the states with the attitude that he could become a great master of animation by incorporating his rich knowledge of art. Now animated shorts had sound which in turn brought a new enthusiasm and a need for talented animators. Paul Terry offered Bill a job right away. There he met animator Art Babbitt who became his close friend and roommate. Art eventually left to work for Walt Disney because of the challenging work and good working conditions. For two years Art tried to entice Bill to come out to Hollywood, but Bill didn't want to leave his family and a well paying job during the Depression. Finally in 1934 Tytla flew to Hollywood. He was was very impressed and accepted the job even at a lower salary than he was being paid at Terry-toons. It didn't take long for Walt to realize what he had and his responsibilities as well as his wages increased dramatically. Within a year, he was on of the first animators assigned to 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.'