Eric’s Art Legacy

By Jenny Clark –

Eric’s most famous works can be found in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Coty cosmetics ads. He made femininity a trend. He was an American fashion and advertising illustrator from the 1910s through to the 1940s. His name was Carl Erickson (Eric) which became legendary and is always associated with vintage illustration art. Having signed his work “Eric”, people all over the world knew that Eric was one of the most prominent fashion illustrators known for his drawings of people in fashionable settings.

In his young years he was studying in the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago. During study period he discovered passion of art and especially of the European art. In 1916 Eric made his debut in Vogue magazine and by 1925 he was a regular artist in Vogue. In 1920, Erickson moved to Paris, where he began illustrating for French Vogue. Eric had his own team consisted of his wife and their daughter. By the way, his wife – Lee Creelman was also a successful illustrator at Vogue, for some time her vintage posters were even more popular than his. In Paris he signed contract with Vogue which had been lasted for 30 years.

The 30s can be described as a decade of glamour and elegance. Glamour and fashion were slowly spreading all over the world. In particular, Carl Erickson was depicting glamorous lifestyle throughout fashion illustrations at the leading magazines.

He saw fashion and manners in his unique way. For him fashion and style were combination of elegance and strong inner femininity. In all his works he reproduced feminine women – active, spontaneous, relaxed, mature, a little bit snobbish. All his characters were open-minded, expressing sexuality and freedom, without fear of being judged.

Eric did impossible – he transmitted fashion all over the world when there were no fashion photographers. He covered magazines with his stunning and elegant sketches with intensive bright colors and black lines which represented model’s gestures very clear. Moreover, Erikson’s art is first of all an art of lines. He was rather focused on lines than on colors. According to him, color could be added, but result fully depends on line drawing.

The illustrator told that hardwork was his key to success among other fashion illustrators. Indeed, Eric was working hard on all his pieces. He never drew without a model, he wanted to recreate real beauty in his illustrations. Eric was creating a multitude of sketches to get one final published magazine piece. Moreover, he always took his sketchbook with him to the restaurant and even to the theater. He was ready to catch inspiration and create another one piece of art. He created his works with different techniques including charcoal, pencil, Chinese ink, watercolor and gouache.

Erickson was referred to as “the Toulouse-Lautrec of America”. The artist dominated the field of fashion illustration for over thirty five years, creating fashion illustrations and drawing society portraits.

Famous fashion illustrator died at the age of 67 surrounded by people he loved. Before his death, Eric mentioned that his life was full of different emotions and beauty. Indeed, he left a lot of amazing vintage posters which are still very popular and which became legendary as well as Eric and his unique style.

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