Fairbanks was born on March 2, 1897 in Provo Utah. His father, John B. Fairbanks was an accomplished artist, having
painted many of the murals in Latter-day
Saint temples. At the early age of twelve, Avard sculpted a clay
rabbit and entered it into a contest at a state fair. The rabbit won
first prize, but when the judge learned that a boy had sculpted the
rabbit, he refused to award the prize. This experience made Avard
all the more determined to become an artist.
his father to the Metopolitan Art Museum in New York City. His work
was recognized in a New York Herald article entitled "Young Michaelangelo
of this modern day in knickerbockers working at the Metropolitan Museum".
Avard spent his time modeling animals at the Bronx Aoological Gardens.
In 1910 and 1911 he received scholarships to study at the Art Students
League. He soon came to know many notable sculptors and received instruction
from them. At the age of fourteen, Avard's sculpture was displayed
in the National Academy of Design.
In 1913 Avard
went to Paris and studied at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Artes,
the Ecole de la Grande Chaumiere, the Academy Colarossi, and the Ecole
Moderne. His works were exhibited at the Grand Salon. The outbreak
of World War I led Avard to return home to Salt
Lake City, where he continued his high school education.