Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Pete Hawley: Cute, Commercial, Cool
It was 1972, and I was in Second Grade. I held in my hands what was possibly the best Valentine I had ever received. It was big. It was colorful. Its artwork was head and shoulders above any other card I had ever seen. A regal lion, full of character and personality, dressed royally, looked sleepily, almost smugly, out at me. I didn't know it, but I held in my hand a sample of the work of Pete Hawley, who at the time was nearing the end of his life and work.
Pete Hawley (1916-1975) has been called the "King of Cute." This wonderful commercial artist and illustrator in his time produced movie posters, album covers, magazine illustrations, advertising campaigns, and greeting cards, including the Valentine I so admired. Most of his work during the Fifties and early Sixties was characterized by what can be termed "an innocent, wholesome sexuality," most amply showcased for his work for Jantzen, a clothing company. It was during the late Sixties and Seventies that he turned more and more to the endearing, cartoonish images that I and my generation came to know as we were growing up.
Pete Hawley does not have his own page or site dedicated to him, not even a Wikipedia entry. Most of what I could find out about him was spread out over several posts at http://todaysinspiration.blogspot.com/ .
This is a shame, as I think his artwork exemplifies a certain aspect of childhood and youth in the Sixties, even going so far as to maybe have shaped it to a some degree. He is, to me, an icon of nostalgia in its best sense.