Neysa McMein Biography

Neysa McMein was an illustrator and poster artist who designed all the McCall's Magazine covers from 1923 through 1927 for The Saturday Evening Post and The Woman's Home Companion. During World War I, McMein went to France as a lecturer and entertainer for the U.S. and France. Also, she designed posters for both the Y.M.C.A., the Y.W.C.A., and the Red Cross. The Y.M.--Y.W.C.A. services to the armed forces began, in the U.S., with the Civil War and it continued providing service for all wars thereafter.  (Library of Congress)

Born Marjorie Moran in Quincy, Illinois, she attended the Art Institute of Chicago and in 1913 went to New York City. After a brief stint as an actress, she turned to commercial art. On the advice of a numerologist, she adopted the name Neysa, and she thereafter credited the name change with her rapid success.

McMein studied at the Art Students League of New York for a few months, and in 1914 sold her first drawing to the Boston Star. The next year she sold a cover to the Saturday Evening Post. Her pastel drawings of chic, healthy American girls proved highly popular and brought her many commissions. During World War I she drew posters for the United States and French governments and spent six months in France as a lecturer and entertainer.

From 1923 through 1937, McMein created all of McCall's covers. She also supplied work to McClure's, Liberty, Woman's Home Companion, Collier's, Photoplay, and other magazines. She created advertising graphics for such accounts as Palmolive soap and Lucky Strike cigarettes. General Mills's Marjorie C. Husted commissioned her to create the image of "Betty Crocker", a fictional housewife whose brand name was intended to be a seal of solid middle-class domestic values.