We first noticed Fiona when one of her designs was used on the wonderful Fiona Pinup Retro girdlefrom Stockings and Romance, and immediately set out to find out whether she’d let us showcase more of her work here at Joanna’s Wardrobe.
Fiona’s wonderfully saucy work provides a nostalgic reminder of glamourous and sexy men’s magazine illustrations of the American 40’s, 50’s and 60’s by her main inspiration, Gil Elvgren, who just happens to be one of our favourites too.
Fiona is an English artist specialising in hand-painted oil on canvas reproductions of Elvgren classics – check out the main picture in this set, it’s called “Right Fit” and features the lovely Bernie Dexter. If you have a favourite Elvgren illustration – maybe in which you’d like you or a friend to feature – Fiona accepts commissions!
“I was first introduced to the art of Gil Elvgren in the 90’s while at a Comic Convention in San Diego, a stall holder was selling a set of cards with Elvgren girls on and it was love at first sight! As an artist I was struggling to find my niche but when I saw these gorgeous, vibrant women, I knew immediately that this was what I wanted to do and I’ve been striving ever since to achieve the cute 50’s cheesecake style in my artwork.
“I originally started to copy Elvgren’s art to learn how to get those amazing colours and light, I still sell Elvgren tribute paintings from my website, quite a few of his paintings were destroyed in the 50’s and the original’s can cost £200,000, mine are more affordable. The first painting I did took months, even though I’d been to art college, I’d never used oil paint before so had to learn the skill, achieving the ‘Elvgren’ skin tones was particularly difficult. Painting the stockings is another challenge, to achieve the sheer silky quality covering the leg can have me tearing at my hair but the sense of achievement is incredible when I get it right.
“When painting one of my original pieces I attempt to get the Elvgren playfulness, I try to create a little story so it isn’t just a portrait of a pretty girl. The ideal pin up girl should be happy and full of fun, a bit mischievous, with lots of expression to her face, revealing her stockings and underwear should be purely accidental and never crude. Some models are perfect for this genre, ‘Right Fit’, ‘Bear Behind’ and ‘Maid in Heaven’ are based on the beautiful Bernie Dexter, she’s a natural with her huge smile and large eyes. I gave Bernie the ‘Maid in Heaven’ painting as a gift for inspiring me, she’s a lovely person. I’m hoping my next muse is going to be someone like Missy Malone or Paloma Faith, I’ve also considered approaching Lily Allen, they all have the ‘look’.
“I think it’s great that over half my buyers are women, they love the sexy but not sleazy style of pin up, the 50’s was a time when women looked shapely and self assured with their assets, I think some women find this empowering. When Andy from Stockings & Romance approached me with a proposal to put my artwork on a corset, I jumped at the chance, I thought it was a fantastic idea! It’s such a great thing to do, Andy explained where it would be on the garment so I kept the image simple, anything too detailed wouldn’t have shown up at that size. I’m very pleased with the results and hope women enjoy wearing the lingerie with the artwork of a woman wearing the lingerie!”
Fiona’s website can be found at www.fionastephenson.com