"Before the Varga Girl, before Playboys Playmate of the month, the Petty Girl reigned supreme. Throughout the 1930s, George Petty's streamlined, long-legged, airbrushed beauties were the most popular pin-up illustrations in America and inspiration to countless other commercial artistes who car after. For me they were the stuff dreams were made of." Hugh M. Hefner
I have been obsessed with the original pin up artist of the 1930's George Petty, after realising that the enamel print we had as a children and I subsequently now keep on my bar, is not from the 80's as it looks, but much earlier and is by Petty.
Petty created the"Petty Girl" for the newly launched Esquire magazine of October 1933. His style was elegant, airbrushed and the girls all looked as if they had literally been poured into their dresses! He typically made the models legs longer and their heads smaller. After a falling out over pay and other mister minas he left the magazine, followed by his predecessor Alberto Vargas who created the "Vargas Girls". However, Esquire wanted ownership over the name so paid Vargas substantially less and owned the rights to all his pictures, much as the magazine world works today.
examples of Vargas girls
After being picked up by the Lennen & Mitchell Agency, Petty went on to illustrate huge advertising campaigns for his time, for popular cigarette brand Old Gold, swimwear brand Janzen, Quaker Stockings & Pepsi Cola. He famously produced a series of calendar girls, for which he returned to Esquire to produce in the 1950s " The Petty Girl Is back!" and now she was wearing ballet shoes...
In 1950, there was even a Colombia Pictures comedy film made loosely based on him, starring Robert Cummings and Joan Caulfield
Georges favourite model was called Marjorie, she was also his daughter! She was the typical American girl in every way except one; her father created the worlds most famous sex symbols. " Marjorie tends towards plumpness, coupled with exceptional grace and natural aptitude for expressing ideas hands and posture, makes her ideal."
If you like his work and want to find out more, I found this fantastic book about all his life and artwork on amazon CLICK HERE
He used the airbrushed technique, which I find incredible and really need to try out! There is such a sophistication to his illustrations, which I guess now would be done on Photoshop. Eager to find out more about airbrushing I found this video by Ryan Townsend on YouTube, metal music aside, this guy is seriously talented and makes the method look easy.