He began his formal training locally at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art. He then travelled to England where he developed his technique and
then honed it later in France at the Academie Julien, where he was to work under the beady eye of J.P. Laurens. On his return to The States in 1910, he got to be known for his specific drawing style that was Vogue influenced. It focused on shapes as a whole as opposed to concentrating on their details. His thin outlines and flat tones
became the signature features of his style at that time and they were to help him enormously in securing jobs with a number of magazines that specialized in satire.
In the 1930’s, Fellows refocused his approach. He moved away from the basic advertising drawings to much more detailed illustrations of fashion.
In this genre he was to work for a number of magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, Vogue and The American Magazine.
Most critically he worked also with both Apparel Arts and Esquire magazines that were first published in 1931 and 1933 respectively. As a result of there being only a small number of fashion artists who were male, there was always at least one full-page illustration by Laurence Fellows to be found in virtually every issue.
There is no dispute. Laurence Fellows is assuredly one of the most iconic men’s fashion illustrators from the decades of the 1930’s and 1940’s:
He was highly influential and his work appeared across many of the top periodicals including LIFE, Vanity Fair, Esquire and Apparel Arts.
He was born in 1885 in the town of Ardmore, formerly known as Athensville, in Pennsylvania
Although it is true that his style was soon to create a fair number of imitators, his instinctive penchant for compositions that were off-balance was to ensure that he kept several steps ahead in terms of his special quality.
He was ultimately to bring in his first client Kelly-Springfield Tires as a commercial undertaking. At this time advertising was somewhat staid but nonetheless it was to give him the very opportunity he sought, namely to bring together both his sophisticated style of draftsmanship and his own brand of humour.
Sometimes he was to steer very close to infringing on the regulations set against negative competitive commercial advertising.
Nowadays he is most celebrated for his drawings from the 1930s, yet he was to persevere with Apparel Arts right through the war years of the 1940’s.
Across time the way in which Fellows developed his style is notable. Initially he focused predominantly with the drawing as a whole rather than the details. But when he changed his style across the 1930’s, he was to lean very much more towards greater detail and he had an approach that was more picturesque.
Fellows’ drawings became highly stylised and this suited well his portrayal of the upcoming ‘drape cut ‘style of men’s clothes for those times.
Fellows’ drawings came to symbolise the Man in Fashion in both the Apparel Arts and Esquire magazines. His depictions were always of people who looked smart, chic, dapper, wealthy, and stylish. The classic age of this figure he created was of a man in his early forties or fifties. He was truly a legend.
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