Monday, January 09, 2006

Who was Pete Hawley?

I can tell you this much: Pete Hawley is no longer with us.

That's a shame, because his work has left an indelible imprint on the American pop psyche. From Frank Frazetta's bodacious babes to Wally Wood's bad-ass babies, you can find a lick of Pete Hawley's confident, energetic and entirely unique drawing and painting style here, there and everywhere - even in the local convenience store of your youth.

It would have been nice to know who he was, how he lived, what his influences were. His career spanned many decades, his instantly recognizable style was the face of many national ad campaigns, he created illustrations for advertising, record albums, movie posters, and greeting cards. As the years rolled by Hawley went from defining sophisticated sexiness for Jantzen to cornering the market on kitchy cuteness for American Greeting Cards.

But no written history seems to exist for this singularly influential artist.

Walt Reed, author of "The Illustrator in America" graciously replied to my emailed query with these intriguing tidbits:

Unfortunately, I never met Pete Hawley, nor turned up any biographical information about him. He was represented by Steven Lion, Inc. of New York and had lived in Rieverside, Conn. A brief checklist of some of his clients:
Bell Telephone System '58 to '61.
Jantzen, Inc. '43- '60
Gripper Fastners '56-'59
Serwell '59-'62
Heinz '39-42'
Sun Oil '47
Skyway Luggage '55
Florida Citrus Commission '51
McGreger '53
Form Fit '54
This just scratches the surface, sorry about the scarcity of bio info.
Walt Reed

So with little to go on, I decided to take a different tack, and ask TI list member and Rules of Attraction author Armando Mendez to give us his thoughts on Pete Hawley's work.

His commentary begins tomorrow.

You can find larger versions of today's image plus several other pieces by Pete Hawley in my Flickr set, but there are many more Jantzen girdle ad scans at the wonderful website, The Girdle Zone.

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