Pete Hawley was an illustrator with a familiar and iconic style. Perhaps best known for the ads he produced for Jantzen swinmwear, he also produced ads for The Bell Telephone System and American Greeting Cards. The letter below was sent by Pete to the Society in 1956.
We discovered a fascinating blog by Leif Peng about Pete Hawley, the illustrator with the familiar and iconic style. Peng has done such an outstanding job of reviewing Pete Hawley’s career, we wanted to share it with you here.
“Pete Hawley’s artwork has always been a big hit with the readers of this blog. It’s fair to say that Hawley has legions of fans all over the world who admire his distinctive, immediately appealing style. But information about the artist has always been vague and sketchy. Earlier this year I began corresponding with Hawley’s granddaughter, Shelley, who has helped fill in many gaps and correct many factual errors about the legendary artist.
Pete Hawley was born in Oakland, California on July 13th, 1916. He became interested in drawing early in his childhood. He graduated at age 17 from University High School with a one year scholarship to the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Hawley won his scholarship in a State-wide competition of high school artists. He was chosen as “the first artist in all the high senior grades in California”.
It was not his first competition win. During his high school days he had created “prize-winning posters, designed maps, candy box covers and greeting cards” (the latter perhaps portending what would one day become a significant aspect of his long career). Also during high school, Hawley painted a mural, the “Spirit of Achievement,” depicting University High, its students and activities, which was recognized for its excellence and later displayed in an Oakland department store.
Clearly, young Pete Hawley was destined to become a big hit.
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