Gillette A. Elvgren was born on the 15th March 1914, in St. Paul, Minnesota. He started at the Minnesota Art Institute studying architecture but soon realised that he loved painting more, for this reason he moved to Chicago with his young wife to study at the American Academy of Art. After graduation he found work at Stevens and Gross, a prestigious advertising agency, working under Haddon Sundblom (famous for his Coca Cola Santas).
Elvgren started producing pin-up girls in 1937 for the publishing company Louis F. Dow, however in 1944 he moved to Brown and Bigelow who offered $1000 per pin-up, substantially more than he was getting at Dow. His contract specified between 18 and 20 pin-ups per year, and only for Brown and Bigelow. However Elvgren soon branched out into other forms of commercial art, amongst them adverts for Coca Cola, Ovaltine and others.