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William (Bill) Medcalf (1920 - 2005)

Bill Medcalf was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he received all of his art education from schools in the area he lived. He worked in the art department of the United States Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving from 1940 to 1941, and in 1942, he joined the Navy as a gunners mate.

Medcalf painted pin-ups for Brown & Bigelow from 1947 through 1967, handling all of the special project calendar commissions for the firm’s most important customers.  During his tenure at Brown & Bigelow, he worked first at the company’s headquarters, then out of his home studio in a suburb of St. Paul, often using his family and neighbors as models.

When Medcalf joined the resident artists at Brown & Bigelow in March 1946, he hoped to get some pointers from his idols, Gil Elvgren and Norman Rockwell, who were both contributors.  When he met both men at a Christmas party that year, he was stunned and flattered when they asked him how he imparted such a finished glow to his work.

For his first assignment in 1947, for Kelly-Springfield Celebrity Tires, Medcalf painted a beautiful girl walking her dog on an estate, with a sports car in the Background.  Also, while handling special pin-up projects, Medcalf went on to deliver one winner after another to a new, more traditional Brown & Bigelow series, The Baseball Hall of Fame.  In addition, he took on the responsibility for the company’s American Boy calendar series in 1953, and he created many best-selling evening-gown subjects for their glamour line.

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