By Christian Franzen
Gil Elvgren was born on March 15th, 1914 in St. Paul, Minnesota. As a child, Elvgren loved advertisement illustrations found in magazines and storefronts. These illustrations inspired him to begin drawing at a young age. After high school he moved to Chicago to study at the American Academy of Art.
Graduating in the midst of the Great Depression, Elvgren was lucky enough to score a job at the respected advertising agency of Stevens and Gross. Within the agency, he worked under famous advertising artist Haddon Sundblom and developed a style of soft wholesome characters similar to that of his mentor.
In 1937, Elvgren was given a job illustrating pin-ups for the Louis F. Dow Company. These illustrations were to be used in a series of calendars that the company published. He produced over 60 pin-ups for the calendars. Elvgren became known throughout the industry for his pin-up illustrations and began to receive more contracts from various advertisers for his drawings.
During WWII, his illustrations were used by many United States troops to decorate their aircraft. This earned him a timeless place in Americana lovers hearts and consequently his work became very collectible.
For the remainder of his life he remained a successful illustrator who continually worked with the pin-up. He illustrated covers for many prestigious magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping. He also continually contracted illustration jobs from Coca-Cola and General Electric until late in his life.