Concept Artist ‘Who’s Who’

Mary Blair
Emma Morley
Computer Animation Arts
Who is Mary Blair?
Born in 1911, Mary Blair’s career began in the 1930’s after graduating from San Jose State College
and winning a scholarship at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. By 1940 she was working for
Disney along with her husband Lee Blair, the brother of Disney animator Preston Blair. Her early
work included art for Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp and Fantasia.

During a research trip which Disney called their “South American Goodwill Tour”, she
worked on concept art for The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos. Mary then went
on to work on concept art for Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Peter
Pan (1953) where her amazing eye for colour is best remembered.

Clockwise from
left: Peter Pan,
Cinderella (2
images), Alice in
Wonderland (2
This led to a commission from Walt Disney to design the artwork for the “It’s a Small World” attraction at Disneyland. This
popular feature has been replicated at Disney parks all over the world. Her work outside of Disney includes illustrations
for ‘Little Golden Books’ and advertising campaigns for companies including Bakers Instant Chocolate, Blue Bell Clothing,
Dutch Boy Paints and Meadow Gold. Mary died in 1978 and was recognised posthumously as a Disney Legend in 1991.

Why Mary Blair?
• Mary Blair has been an inspiration to many people and you can see her work
throughout even the more modern animation films and illustrations.
• What sets her apart from many other concept artists is her simplistic and
child-like style. She was popular as she was very good at drawing children.
• In a predominantly male environment at the time, Mary was one of the few
women employed by Walt Disney as a favoured artist.

by Pixar Character Designer Chris Sasaki ‘Tangled’ wrap party invitation
by Disney artist Claire Keane
End credits for Disney’s ‘Bolt’
Mary Blair’s influences
• Matisse and Picasso have been named as some of Mary Blair’s influences and this is evident in her use of
colour and shape.

• She also studied Southern-American and folk art.
Google created a special Mary Blair header on 21
October 2011 to celebrate
what would have been her 100