'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 15 October 2015

Meet the Illustrator: Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Expressiveness, texture, warmth and movement are usually my illustration goals.

What items are essential parts of your creative space?
I guess I’m a bit of a pack rat because it’s really difficult to narrow it down! Bare bones would be my paints, brushes, pencils, paper and my drawing desk—I worked with just those items for years. But I love to listen to audio books while I work so I would miss my iPhone and headphones and it’s hard to imagine how I would do without the computer and Internet these days.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
I do create some artwork digitally, and I enjoy that for some assignments, but I still get the most pleasure from my good old paint and pencils.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
I could make a list a mile long of picture book illustrators I admire and who inspire me! I collect beautiful picture books, so three chosen at random from my bookshelf would be Rebecca Dautremer, Charles Santore, and Fred Marcellino.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why?
I think the Italian Renaissance would be pretty cool. Those people really knew their craft and learning for its own sake was valued and encouraged. Of course plague, famine and those pesky wars between the city states would be a bummer.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
When I was a little girl I spent hours in the library devouring picture books and minutely examining their illustrations. I was horse crazy so my favourite illustrator at the time was C.W. Anderson. My mother is an artist and so I grew up in a household where art was encouraged and it was basically assumed I would study art. Still, it wasn’t until I selected my university course that I had the ah-ha moment that I could be an illustrator.

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often?

What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
I have a few favourite parts:

  • The beginning of a new project makes me excited and anxious because there seem to be unlimited possible solutions.
  • I love when I’ve finally settled on storyboards for the entire book because there’s satisfaction that I’ve created a roadmap and I have a path forward.
  • And finally, when I’m working on the final illustrations for a book, each painting inevitably has a discouraging stage where it looks awful, revolting, and not at all as I imagined. Yet somehow between one paint stroke and another, it turns a corner and starts to feel alive to me. I don’t know if it’s more pleasure or relief, but that moment makes the rest of the work feel comparatively easy.

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator?
Work on your portfolio! Make sure it is full of the work you hope to be hired to create, and if you want children’s illustration, make sure you include visual narratives.

Marjorie Crosby-Fairall is a freelance illustrator living in Sydney. Her work includes illustrations for educational publishers such as Dorling Kindersley, general editorial book publishers, and magazines such as Australian Geographic. Her most recent picture book is The Croc and the Platypus, written by Jackie Hosking and published by Walker Books in 2014. Visit Marjorie's website for more information about her books and illustrations.