When did you first discover your talent as an illustrator?
I can remember being asked to draw things for my fellow kindergarten students, so maybe I became a professional illustrator then? Art was a big feature throughout school. In fact, in 5th grade I remember handing in a report on the US states that was 72 pages long because I drew the flag and emblem for each state! I was a huge reader and loved illustrated books, but I didn't realise that I could make a career of illustration until I was in high school and I was researching university courses.
What was your first piece of published art?
Well, before I worked as a children's illustrator, I worked in advertising and magazine illustration; so technically, my first published illustration would have been something in an advertisement. However, my first children's publication was a picture book called ‘Killer Plants' (by Julie Silk and Gordon Cheers, Penguin), which was a non-fiction book about carnivorous plants. It won the CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.
What part of the illustration process do you enjoy the most and why?
The initial design stages are fun and exciting and anxiety producing (there is nothing as scary as a blank piece of paper!) and hopefully satisfying when you have thought of a solution for the illustration assignment. However, my favourite part of the illustration process is the final painting stage. I usually set myself up with an audio book and drift into ‘the zone' so that hours can fly by without me even noticing.
What's a typical day of illustrating look like?
I don't think there is a typical day because my daily tasks depend on the stage I am at with a project. For example, when I am starting a picture book project, I can spend days without actually drawing; I research, scribble down ideas in a notebook and plan what to include on each page of the book (and how I'm going to make it all fit and still leave room for the words!). When I have finally reached the later stages of a picture book, I usually spend the entire day at my big drawing table listening to audio books while I paint and draw.
Your work is so diverse. Do you have a favourite subject matter or style?
I have always loved drawing animals. When I was a kid I was horse crazy and drew horses on any flat surface I could find! I actually spent a number of years creating wildlife illustrations for magazines such as Australian Geographic, however, I have so much more fun illustrating children's books and turning the animals in to characters with personality and telling a story.
What's next for Marjorie Crosby-Fairall?
You mean in addition to more assignments with The School Magazine (hopefully!)? I have a couple of picture books that will be released this year, and a couple of picture books in the works. I am very much enjoying the variety of assignments I have been given, and I think I have the best job in the world.