Fiona Suzanne Katauskas
The Cartoonist

Fiona Katauskas (left) with her father Danius Katauskas (right) at the
Independence Day reception at NSW Parliament House February 16, 2006
Fiona Katauskas of Lithuanian and Anglo-Australian descent has an unusual profession - she is a freelance cartoonist who is working for our national and State newspapers, magazines and has illustrated many books for publishers. This arrangement suits her well, as she has a family with two small children and as she admits herself: "For the foreseeable future, Iíll continue juggling."
Fiona Katauskas started off at studying journalism in Australia. Continued her studies at Oregon State University in the USA and finished up in studying politics back in Canberra. After some travelling and working overseas, she gave in to her

Fiona Katauskas - 10th anniversary
passion - politics and cartooning. The interviewer, Isolde Ira Davis AM, has asked Fiona Katauskas to share with the readers a few personal facts about her life and work.

ID: When did your father come to Australia and where were you born?
FK: My mother was born here of Anglo-Australian parents. My father was born in Kaunas/Lithuania and came to Australia in 1949 with his parents. He was 6 years old.

ID: Are you the eldest, youngest daughter in your family?
FK: Iím the oldest of three girls - Emma, Thea and myself. Emma is 18 months younger than I am and Thea is five

Fiona Katauskas - CEO diet
years younger. Weíre very close.

ID: What are your most vivid memories of your childhood and teenager years?
FK: I had a great childhood, playing in the bush, going to the beach and hanging out with friends and sisters. My memories of my teenage years are all pretty good ones. I liked school, had good friends and did all the things that teenagers usually do.

ID: Where did you attend Primary, Secondary school and what where your extracurricular activities?
FK: I went to Primary Schools at Warrawee and Hornsby. Then I went to Turramurra High School, the local

Fiona Katauskas - Chicken
Comprehensive State School. While at high school Iíve always been active and liked running and walking. Team sports arenít really my thing. However, I liked drama and sports. Our school didnít have a hall so we didnít have much drama activity. I did a few drama and art classes outside school and performed in a few of their productions.

ID: Where and when did you attend Universities?
FK: My university career was all over the place - both literally and figuratively. I started off at Charles Sturt University studying broadcast journalism in 1988 and spent my second year on exchange at Oregon State University in the USA. Having become disillusioned with journalism, I dropped out of that course and took up study of my real passion - politics at the Australian National University in Canberra, where I did an Honours Degree in International Relations.
After university I travelled extensively overseas and worked with development and human rights organisations in Indonesia,

Fiona Katauskas - I'm okay
India and the Philippines. On my return to Australia I worked in that field, until I was made redundant in 1997 and had to think up something else to do. I had always made cards for my friends and done cartoons for organisations for fun, so a friend suggested that I should try cartooning. I never thought of myself as an artist. My younger sister, Thea, is a fantastic artist and I never even thought of myself in her league (and still donít). Instead, I came to cartooning through the political side. Thinking I would fail miserably, I got together a portfolio of work and sent it off. To my great surprise, I got published in The Sydney Morning Herald and things took off from there.
My cartoons have since appeared in a range of publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian

Fiona Katauskas - Jargon colour
Financial Review, The Bulletin and The Chaser. Iíve also illustrated lots of books for publishers such as Random House and Allen & Unwin and designed cards for the Ink Group and T-shirts for Mambo.
Cartooning - especially political cartooning remains my passion. It is quite a strange little world. There are very few of us across the country and, through events like the annual Stanley Awards (Australian Cartoonistsí Association) and the National Museumís exhibitions of political cartoons, most of us know each other. Itís about a 95% male profession and, although Iím often asked why this is so, Iím still not sure. I think itís more of a generation thing than a matter of sexism. Staff editorial cartoonists were largely hired when it WAS a more sexist environment and have stayed around since then. Because there are so few major newspapers in Australia, editorial jobs are highly sought after so nobody leaves until "he falls of the stool", as SMH cartoonist Alan Moir once said. This, as well as newspaper cutbacks, makes

Fiona Katauskas - Workplace bargaining
it very hard for younger cartoonists to get these staff positions.

ID: So you work from home and keep on freelancing?
FK: Working from home certainly keeps your hands full and Iíve become very good at multi-tasking. Now freelancing certainly has its rewards, though. One week Iíll be thinking up cartoons for a book on the Australian pub music scene and the next Iíll be doing work on Industrial Relations issues for a union publication. The week after that I might be dabbling in politics, health or plain old comedy. It keeps life interesting and I get a bit of insight into other issues and opinions. I earn very little, especially working part time, and being self employed means you have no guaranteed regular income, no sick leave and no holiday pay. However, I absolutely love what I do and that makes up for all of the negatives.

ID: What are your other hobbies?
FK: Iím an avid reader; love travelling, walking and politics.

ID: What are your future plans?
FK: For the foreseeable future, Iíll continue juggling! I would love to be a staff cartoonist for a newspaper, but those jobs are so few and far between that it is quite unlikely for some time.

ID: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the Internet readers.

Isolde Ira Davis AM