Artist, animator, and designer Mary Blair was born in Oklahoma 1911. Her first professional job in the animation industry was as an animator with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, afterwards joining her husband Lee Blair at the Ub Iwerks studio. In the 1930s she was a member of the innovative California Water-Color Society.
One of Walt Disney’s favourite artists, Mary Blair joined The Walt Disney Company in 1940 where she created concept paintings for projects related to Fantasia, Dumbo, and The Lady and the Tramp and many other projects. Mary Blair has been credited with introducing modernist art styles to Walt Disney and his studio by using primary colours to form intense contrast.
Mary left Disney in 1953 to concentrate on illustrating children’s books and raising a family. Working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator creating national advertising campaigns, Mary also illustrated several Little Golden Books, some of which remain in print today. She also worked as a designer for Bonwit Teller and created theatrical sets.
While her work as an illustrator is not widely known, Mary Blair’s bold and ground-breaking colour design still inspires many of today’s designers and animators.