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Coles Phillips

(1880 Springfield, OH - 1927 New York)

Phillips postcard # 1Phillips attended Kenyon College (illustrating for the 1901-1904 yearbooks) while working for the American Radiator Company.  Not waiting for graduation, he took a job at their New York office, and began taking night classes at the Chase School of Art.  He didn't enjoy clerking, and his next job was at an illustration "factory" where drawings were produced on an assembly line model, with each artist adding a subsequent part of the picture.  Phillips ended up drawing a lot of feet, which served him well in his future hosiery advertising illustrations.  He opened his own advertising agency in 1906, but soon abandoned it to free-lance in magazine illustration.  

When the humor magazine Life, wanted a new gimmick for their cover, he had just the thing - the Fade-away Girl. Inspired by an earlier experience of watching a friend in a black tuxedo playing a violin in a dimly lit room, and seeing only his white cuffs and collar to make out his figure, Phillips envisioned a similar artistic technique.  In his fade-aways, the foreground figure blends monochromatically into the background, still with distinct highlights to define its shape and position.  

He supplied no fewer than 54 cover paintings for the magazine over the next four years, before his fame led to covers for Good Housekeeping and a lucrative portfolio of major advertisers where he could display the full spectrum of his artistic talent.

Phillips postcard # 2          Phillips postcard # 3

Phillips postcard # 4

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