My little brother’s favorite ride at Disney is It’s A Small World, so I’ve always been well-acquainted with Mary Blair’s work, but it wasn’t until I started pursuing a career in animation that I realized how much of an artistic influence she had on me and my work.
As a woman in animation, I owe so much to Mary Blair and all of the women that came before me and worked fiercely to stand up for equality in the workplace and to be treated seriously. Mary Blair’s experience at Disney Animation Studios really resonated with me, as someone who has a very distinct style. The men at the studio didn’t think Mary's style would transfer well to the screen and that it was too hard to emulate. I have a very graphic/storybook-like style, and I feel sometimes that I’m not fit for animation. But Mary Blair is a constant reminder to many young women animators and budding artists that our voice and style is valid, and it’s important that it’s represented. Mary never compromised her style for the sake of making it easier for other people, and she continued to push herself and explore more designs and colors to help tell a stronger story.
Her approach to colors and experimentation with different color schemes is revolutionary. She took color theory and burst out of the typical patterns with flashes of oranges and hot pinks. Her work has such a child-like vibrancy and I think a lot of that is attributed to her expressive color work. I love experimenting with colors and using the standard interaction of colors to create and explore new ways to have them play together.
After moving to California, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and spend time with her niece, Maggie Richardson. Hearing some childhood stories of hers about her aunt was such a special moment, and I’m so happy I was able to hear about all of the amazing memories they shared.
Mary Blair will always stand as one of my biggest role models in animation and in life. She was so passionate about her work, the art she created, and had an amazing knack to capture a youthful spirit that so many people to this day, including myself, try to emulate in our work.
I’m a huge fan of going outside of what is conventional, and I try to push the boundaries of animation and expand the medium even further. I always want to have her tenacity in my work as well. I never want to be satisfied with how I’m pushing a character or idea. I want to always strive for improvement and make my ideas even bigger than I ever could imagine just like Mary Blair did in every piece and project she worked on.✦