Cars have seemingly always been a staple in good ol’ U.S. of A. – lynchpins of the American psyche and the ultimate symbols of power, freedom and self-expression. And long before the dawn of the Mad Men era, woman were used as a way to sell them. Almost as common as the hood ornament adorning most of the classic models, the image of the female lounging on her car of choice is one that’s deeply entrenched in our culture. A woman sitting on, next-to, or even near a car became synonymous with sexuality, even when the photos were tame. The woman exercises her choice when she selects a car, just as she does when she picks out a man. Advertisers will market a car as “fast”, “exhilarating”, and “the ride of a lifetime,” and our minds need only hop a short distance to see that this language could apply to either a mate or a horsepower vehicle of choice.
The way we depict women in this country has plenty to do with how we portrayed them just a few decades ago. Gil Elvgren was one influential man who offered his own lens and captured the spirit of the “American girl.” His iconic paintings, ads, and illustrations made him one of the most important pin-up and glamour artists of the twentieth century.
I love how some of these are more blatant than others – some seems to scream “I would do anything to make you smile darling,” while others take a more subtle approach. But his illustrations are doubtlessly part of our consciousness even to this day. Each captures a particular notion of the mid-century American zeitgeist.
All images: Gil Elvgren
According to George Lois, each and everyone of us can fit into one of the following subsets:
Or so he says in his new book, (inhale before reading this title aloud) Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!): How To Unleash Your Creative Potential by America’s Master Communicator, George Lois.
Regardless of number, if you should find yourself with book in hand, be prepared for the treasure trove that awaits you. Simple, direct, and honest advice that will smack you upside the head and make you realize the obstacles and secrets that accompany a creative life.
Here’s a little glimpse of what’s inside: