Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pete Hawley: King of Cute!

If God bestowed The Magic Cute Pencil upon any one illustrator of the twentieth century it must surely have been Pete Hawley. Cute wasn't a formula Hawley had worked out and applied to his drawing style... it was as natural to him as breathing.

From his earlier period Jantzen pin-ups to his 50's era advertising work (below), to his movie posters and beyond, every man, woman, child and critter Pete Hawley drew had an impish grin and a pixie-twinkle in their eyes.

That singularly cute quality must have been the reason that Bell Telephone chose Hawley for their high profile long distance ad campaign which ran over several years at the end of the 50's and into the early 60's...

...and no doubt those ads must have brought Hawley to the attention of The American Greeting Card Company. Though biographical information on Hawley is still sketchy, we know now that he spent the last decades of his career doing hundreds and hundreds of cutey-pie paintings for the greeting card behemoth.

If you grew up in the 1970's like I did, you probably held dozens of Pete Hawley illustrations like this one in your hands every Valentine's Day - and didn't even know it.

And in regard to Hawley's work for AGC, I've got some very interesting Pete Hawley news I'd love to share with you... unfortunately I'm not at liberty to reveal it just yet.

For now you'll have to satiate your cute tooth by dining on the images in my Pete Hawley Flickr set.


  1. I've always dug Hawley's stuff even when I was a kid.

    I hope Shane Glines actually finishes that book he was working on about him.


  2. Anonymous2:52 PM

    Some background on Pete. He was born Wilbur Hawley on Nov. 5, 1915, and died in February 1975, according to the SSDI. He grew up in Oakland, and attended University High School there. His talent was recognized from an early age. From the Oakland Tribune of August 21, 1933:

    Young Artist Wins Honors

    Since the age of 9, Wilbur Hawley, 17-year-old graduate of University High School, has been drawing things. And this penchant for “drawing things” today had won him a year’s scholarship at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

    Hawley, who lives at 678 Aileen Street and is the son of Mrs. Mary Hawley at that address, first won city-wide attention when a student at the high school.

    He painted a mural depicting the school, the activities of students and the “Spirit of Achievement,” which won recognition. The mural now is being shown at an Oakland department store.

    Later, he exhibited his drawings and paintings with several other high school artists throughout the State and was adjudged the first artist in all the high senior grades in California. This won for him the year’s scholarship.

    In addition, young Hawley has made several prize-winning posters, designed maps, candy box covers, greeting cards and other things.

    And from the July 15, 1940 Oakland Trib:


    New honors were accorded Wilbur “Pete” Hawley, 24, former Oakland man and graduate of University High School, last week when he was asked to design sets for the “Political Scandals of 1940,” a play to be presented at the Democratic National convention in Chicago.

    A year ago, Hawley won the highest honor available for a commercial artist, the merit award for the best design of any advertisement in a National magazine, given him for the year 1938 by the Art Directors’ Club of New York.

    Hawley’s former home was at 678 Aileen Street here. His mother, Mrs. Mary J. Hawley, lives at 40 Pond Street, in San Francisco. He graduated from University High in 1933 and won a scholarship to the California School of Fine Arts.

    After working in San Francisco a while, he went to Chicago, where he is a member of an advertising concern.


    I can email you scans of these and a couple other clips with photos of young Pete and his mural if you're interested.

  3. Anonymous3:07 PM

    ... and his Art Directors Club Award, presented in March 1939 in New York, was for a Heinz ad that appeared in 1938. The ad agency was Maxon.

  4. These are so great...!!! Thank you for bringing this amazing artist to my attention! =D

  5. Barbara Bradley emailed me with her comment:

    Thanks to you for featuring the Pete Hawley's and to David for
    sharing info about him. I always admired his spirited work, but had
    no idea that he was from the Bay Area.


  6. To which I most certainly wish to add MY thanks as well to David for filling in more biographical info on Pete Hawley! :-)

  7. Anonymous8:21 PM

    Well thanks. I found another news article and posted it here. As well as one of his award-winning Heinz ads from 1938-39. Signed "ph."

  8. Hi, I am not sure if David @ Plan59 has the same Hawley. I have a Christmas card that Pete Hawley wrote by hand in 1993 (while he was still alive, of course). The SSDI lists Peter K. Hawley as being born on July 13, 1916 and dying on February 15, 1996. Last known address is in Sedona, which we know is where our beloved Pete Hawley lived.

  9. Thank you all for sharing in the love of Pete's work. His daughter, Susan Hawley, is my mother in law. I married Pete's grandson Ty. What an amazing man with SO many great works of art! Thank you again, love sharing these with the family.

  10. I am a senior art director from American Greetings and was fortunate to stumble upon this article.
    So sorry I'm late to this party.
    I have been employed with American Greetings since 1977 and had the privilege to have met Mr. Hawley as he would occasionally visit AG to deliver some of his marvelous artwork.
    In honor of the time he crated work for us, I am in the process of organizing a show of the vast amount of work from our archives and would love any more information on Mr Hawley to include in the bio of this show.