Thursday, February 25, 2010

Illustrator of the Month: February 2010

Olivia De Berardinis, known mostly as just Olivia, was born in California in 1948. She was an only child from a nomadic family who spent much of her time drawing to escape the world of adults she lived in. Her first model and muse was her mother, Connie. Her mother was a willing model, and as the artist describes, "She was a disgruntled glamour-puss, and would entertain me with terrible imitations of Mae West, Garbo, Dietrich, Hepburn and Zsa Zsa Gabor. She was a cross between Sophia Loren, Lucille ball, and Rosie the Riveter."

Olivia attended the New York School of Visual Arts, and worked for a few years as a minimalist oil painter, before turning to the commercial arts to make ends meet. She has painted all the classic girls from Bettie Page through to Dita Von Teese and as a result she has developed a loyal following of collectors and published hundreds of limited edition prints. Her work is also available as tshirts, cards and calendars. Olivia has published in a number of men's magazines but is now prominently featured in Playboy magazine, on the page previously held by famed pin-up illustrator Alberto Vargas. Olivia's images are hand selected by Hef himself, who writes the captions for her images each month.

I love the agression and feirceness with which Olivia portrays women. These aren't women who are accidentally caught with their pants down, these are women in control. These are women choosing to show you their sexuality and at times it is frightening, alluring, intoxicating. There are models who look innocent, there are models that look dangerous. I admire her ability to capture the spirit of pinup with a nod to the history of the style, but also her ability to do so in a totally modern way.

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