Coles Phillips

Coles Phillips


Coles Phillips was born in Springfield, Ohio and grew up to become a very well known Artist and Illustrator. At the age of 26, he was hired to produce illustrations for Life magazine and continued to work with them throughout his life. Phillips was most known for his stylistic approaches to his illustrations, and mainly used watercolours. More specifically, he was known for illustrating women and his use of negative space. He was active around the time that colour printing was a significant innovation in the world of magazines. He was able to set himself apart from other illustrators and artists by his choice of using normally only up to two colours in his cover illustrations and by drawing strictly from life rather than from a photograph.

After researching Phillips, I thoroughly enjoyed glancing at all of his pieces. There are many qualities to his work that I would definitely reflect upon and explore when doing my own creative work. What I really like about his work is, of course, his iconic use of space. It’s not just the idea of the lost edges of the figure from the negative space, but also the vibrant solid colours he choses to really make a statement. For example (pictures below) the green tending to the organic characteristics of the form of the mirror as well as the wallpaper behind her, the red giving the subject a glow of boldness and confidence, the blue shedding the sense of a cool breeze, and the black presenting the maid’s sneaky intentions. Not only do these colours match the traits of the composition’s subjects, they also match with its environment and that’s what I really admire about his cover illustrations.

One thought on “Coles Phillips

  1. Abi,

    Fine work on both these illustrators. EVB does indeed capture an Englishness from the Victorian era. Don’t know a whole lot about her but your thoughts are informative. Coles Phillips is also a fine choice. Lovely use of negative space in a large part of his work.

    Well Doen!

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