During the World War I era, modern young women in America were seeking new roles of equality and opportunity in education and work. American illustrator and writer Nell Brinkley was iconic for her representations during the period. She redefined femininity, fashion and trends in many ways in era before mass media – when print was still well and truly King.
Compared to the staid and stoic image of the Gibson Girl of the early 20th Century, Brinkley’s Art Nouveau and romantic Brinkley Girl was active, dynamic, rebellious and romantic symbol for young women.
Brinkley drew active idealistic young women in illustrations for newspaper feature stories. She would also write stories to go along with her lovely art.
One of her most iconic creations, a rather appropriate wartime propaganda archetype was “Golden Eyes”. A World War I heroine who promoted the idea of active American patriotism through the sale of Liberty Bonds and supporting the overseas war effort.
Brinkley’s sublime Art Nouveau renderings and floaty, romantic dreamscapes turned her into a legend of early comic book illustration. Her artistic influence has endured, even a century later, with music (Kate Bush), writers, artists and clothing designers all being influenced by her aesthetics and style.