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Biography of Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944)

In 1886, at the age of 19, Charles Dana Gibson sold his first drawing to Life magazine. By 1888, he was drawing regularly for that periodical. In 1890, he created in the pages of Life magazine the spirited and stylish young socialite who would widely admired and imitated as the Gibson Girl. Her image not only appeared weekly in Life but on tea cups, spoons, and wallpaper; there were songs about her and even a play! Gibson became America's most famous illustrator and was an ideal leader for the Division of Pictorial Publicity.

Fast forward to World War I, the Society of Illustrators held a meeting in New York City to examine ways in which artists might rally to their country's cause. Many of the members (Gibson being one of them) were already backers of preparedness through anti-pacifist, patriotic groups such as the Vigilantes. While participating in the meeting, Gibson received a telegram from George Creel asking him to appoint a committee to help produce whatever artwork the government needed to promote the war. Gibson was quick to accept and furthered his upstanding reputation as a patriot and artist willing to go the extra mile for his country. Here are George Creel's thoughts on Gibson and the significance of the poster in the war effort:

"Even in the rush of the first days...I had the conviction that the poster must play a great part in the fight for public opinion. The printed word might not be read, people might not choose to attend meetings or to watch motion pictures, but the billboard was something that caught even the most indifferent eye...what we wanted- what we had to have- was posters that represented the best work of the best artists-posters unto which the masters of the pen and brush poured heart and soul as well as genius. Looking the field over, we decided upon Charles Dana Gibson as the man best fitted to lead the army of artists."