George Stavrinos Fashion Illustrator.
Many artists made their way to the Pines leaving their mark on history with their art. George Stavrinos is one. An incredible talented artist who’s gift was fashion illustration. He donated two of his iconic fashion images for the Fashions of the Pines shows. FIPHPS Board member Scott Bromley was captured by George in the two images below.
Fern Mallis & Scott Bromley 1979. Leslie/ Haiti/ China for Mary Higgins Clark for story in Cosmopolitan magazine 1978.
In 2007 George Stavrinos was elected posthumously to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. 17 years after his passing he was getting the recognition he so richly deserved. George was only 42 years old when he died from complications of pneumonia. His life was cut short by the AIDS epidemic that swept like scythe through an entire generation. There remains an energy in his art that transcends the sorrow of those and the intervening years. Among contemporary illustrators there are those who consider him one of their towering inspirations. George Stavrinos repeatedly demonstrated that illustration could be more than decoration. An illustration could be imbued with dramatic content, it could be monumental in feel, and it could stand as “Art” in the truest form of the word. In a fast paced world with no attention to detail the art of illustration and George Stavrinos have been lost until now.
From his humble beginnings in Somerville Massachusetts, where a large and active community of Greek immigrants settled George remembered always drawing as a child. In high school he involved himself with theater as artistic director of scenery production. Graduating in 1966 with a scholarship from the Tiffany Foundation in New York he headed to Providence, Rhode Island to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. George thrived here and soon became the star of his class as many would look to see what he came up with weekly. It was here he met his lifelong friend and future favorite model Sally MacLeod.
George also studied photography with renowned photojournalist Harry Benson and Harry Callahan. Despite the pleasure he took from photography, George saw himself as an illustrator and designer first. Photography remained a critical component for the creation of his art. During summer breaks he would head to another gay destination Ogunquit Maine. Known for it’s beautiful beach it was here he worked at summer jobs. He would find an avenue for his artwork through those he met. At the end of his junior year he was accepted into RISD’s European Honors program. So he set off to spend his senior year in Rome. It was here where he would grow personally and artistically. After graduating he moved to Boston. Here he found various jobs using his art while working in a book store. From posters for clothing stores to hair salons. In 1973 he moved onto New York city and small successes in NY Times. This was enough to keep him going.
He began a freelance relationship with Pushpin Studios, and started acquiring high end clients like Bonwit Teller, New York magazine, Oui, and Gentlemen’s Quarterly. His versatility, technical skill, and ability to switch between styles allowed him to take on a staggering range of assignments. This made him extremely in demand and busy throughout the 70’s.
George began meeting fellow illustrators like Mel Odom. The gay market had also discovered George and work began in publications like “Blueboy”, and Gay Source. Covers for novels by authors Felice Picano, Gore Vidal, Edmund White, and Paul Monette. In 1977 he left Pushpin and began producing illustrations for Barneys a new upcoming clothing store.
Soon he was given complete control over Barneys and men’s fashion illustration. It was all new and he was flying. During this time he also contributed to the Gay Source : A catalog for men. Gay Source was a compendium of information of interest to the modern gay man. His press was growing…
Moving from Barneys to Bergdof presented a striking contrast and new opportunities. He was partnering with a store that represented the pinnacle of women’s fashion.
By the 80’s George would once again change his style. Focusing more on the clothing and facial features than the backdrop of the past. In 1984 he began what would become a favorite project. A campaign for the New York City Opera.
In 1983 after completing his work for the well known department store Keio in Tokyo he was invited to speak at the prestigious Tokyo’s Gakuin Designers College. He also traveled to Pasadena California Art Center College of Design to be a guest artist.
He also developed a special relationship with Fashion Institute of Design often visiting a friend Rosemary Torres an instructor, and sharing with the students.
By the mid 80’s George’s commercial work had caught the attention of Steve Diamante the young director of Ettinger Galleries. It was here he would create his first fine art lithographs for sale.
His Gay oriented art continued…
Copy from Illustration magazine 2013 by Brad R. Hamann.
George Stavrinos’s journey ,like many was cut short as the epidemic AIDS took many. We lost not only him , but what could have been. Somehow he found his way to the Pines and shared his art. It now lives an as his history…
“I suppose I could say I am trying to put down my experience on paper but I think above all I just want to make it evident that I love to draw… “