1. Fashion Fridays ~ Carl Erickson (1891 – 1958)

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    Carl Oscar August Erickson was a prolific American advertising and fashion illustrator, born 1892 in Joliet, Illinoise. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago for two years. Whilst at art school people began calling him “Eric”. The nickname stuck and would later adopt it as his signature. At the start of his career he worked for advertising agencies such as Marshall Field, and Lord & Thomas (now FCB). In 1914 Erickson move to New York, and continued to illustrate for advertising.

    He made the transition into fashion drawing his first fashion illustration for the trade journal, the Dry Goods Economist. A short while later, in 1916, made his debut for Vogue magazine. He fell in love and married a fellow Vogue illustrator, Lee Creelman. The two moved to Paris in 1920, where Erickson began illustrating for the French edition of Vogue and drawing society portraits. The couple lived in France for two decades but were forced to return to American due to the invasion of Paris in the Second World War.

    By 1925, Erickson was a regular artist for Vogue magazine and a dominate figure in the fashion world. He developed a working relationship with French fashion designers Pierre Balmain and Cristóbal Balenciaga, as well as collaborating with artist René Bouët-Willaumez and René Bouché. Erickson continued to work until his death in 1958. After his death, he had the unique honor of two retrospectives of his work hosted by the Brooklyn Museum and Parsons School of Design. One in 1959 and the second in 1964.

    Throughout his career Erickson was focused and hard-working. Constantly practicing and making studies, taking his sketchbook wherever he went, from restaurants to theaters. For each published magazine piece, he would make a multitude of preliminary sketches. He would also always draw from life, and never drew without a model. He used many different types of media included charcoal, pencil, Chinese ink, watercolor, and gouache. He was referred to as “the Toulouse-Lautrec of America” and in 1982 was inducted to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.

    You can find a lot of Carl Erickson’s work around the web as well as some in some fashion books, such as 100 Years of Fashion. There is also a 128-page book, Fashion Drawings in Vogue: Carl Erickson, that was published in 1989. A good condition copy can sell for quite a bit, but you can still find pretty cheap second-hand ones on Amazon.