American Illustrators - Coles Phillips

In the last week I've been looking at the work of American Illustrators including Coles Phillips - his work is, in my opinion, just fabulous!

Clarence Coles Phillips (1880-1927) originally signed his work C. Coles Phillips but after 1911, dropped the C. and started signing his work just Coles Phillips.

He is known for his stylish images of women and in particular for his use of negative space in the paintings he created for advertisements and the covers of magazines.

After leaving college in his native state of Ohio, Phillips moved to Manhattan, determined to make a living through his art.  He took night classes for just 3 months, his only formal artistic training, before establishing his own advertising agency.

Phillips was hired onto the staff of Life magazine in 1907, a magazine he would stay associated with for the rest of his life.  His work quickly became popular with Life readers and in 1908 his first 'fadeaway' girl cover appeared, a design where the figure's clothes matched, and disappeared into, the background.  This technique was subsequently developed and used for many covers.

From 1905 until his death, Phillips lived and worked in Rochelle, New York, where he also raised pigeons. He died of a long-standing kidney complaint in 1927.

You can get high-resolution versions of these images in our 50-image Coles Phillips graphics collection at