While I was working on a random blog post about craftiness (something I’m not, at least, not in the general sense), something I remember from growing up in the 1980s and 1990s (but is far beyond my years) popped into my head: those “Can You Draw Me?” advertisements, and the television commercials that advertised them. Now, I know I’ve seen those in magazines – the ads that implored overly-ambitious readers to try to draw the turtle (named “Tippy”). Your reward for your efforts? Art lessons, an art scholarship, world domination, the envy of all of your friends.
Ok, not the last two. But that sounds like a draw, doesn’t it.
Oh, do you see what I did there?!
Did anyone actually ever win the scholarship for drawing Tippy Turtle? I’m sure there have been winners, but are they still alive to speak of it?
It turns out Tippy had more “friends” out there for these overly ambitious artists to draw in an effort to win art lessons and scholarships.
You’re familiar with these ads, with taglines like:
And this one, who wants you to know that…
And commercials like this…
[Via] Video Archaeology 3
[Via] Art Instruction Schools
[Via] Art Instruction Schools
If the promises to make you a professional artist don’t lure you in, that bangin’ public access television show theme music will!
The advertisements were made possible by Art Instruction Schools, formerly the Federal School of Applied Cartooning. It was established in 1914 by Joseph Almars, and is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The school was established as a branch of the Bureau of Engraving, Inc., with the intent to train illustrators for the then-growing print industry, as well as the Bureau. The courses were home study, because “home study” was the thing before “online courses” were. “Graduates” could enter the advertising, printing, and newspaper fields.
Such lofty ambitions, you say? Charles Schulz took the course (yes, THAT Charles Schulz) for a whopping $170 during the Depression Era, while he was still in high school. Schulz would later teach at Art Instruction Schools, and based several of his famed “Peanuts” characters on co-workers and friends.
So, who was Snoopy based on?
The school still operates to this day, and despite current animation methods and technological advances, Art Instruction Schools still teaches in the classic method, much as they did 100 years ago. And as I do with all of my other painstakingly-crafted with love works of pure writing/reading pleasure (or so I think they are), I combed through the archives of the interwebs to find some examples of Art Instruction Schools’ Call to Action ads to nab artists of the FUTURE!
The drawing tests featured this guy prominently,
but also featured such memorable characters as:
Draw me, The Lady, because I’m as pretty as a picture…or drawing!
I’m The Other Lady. The one with the hat chooses to hide her hair. I choose to show mine proudly!
I’m The Swimmer. The Other Lady lacks my talent, and I rock a swim cap.
Some of Tippy’s Friends (pick one!):
Buffy, Cubby, Tiny, and the Pirate. ARRRR!
One that sounded more like an extra credit question on a test, and less like a no-grade drawing test I would find in a magazine:
And Bob Hope.
Yes, Bob Hope.
As I said earlier, Art Instruction Schools is still a thing, and exists as a distance learning course, which is not-so-innovative now, but in 1914, it was a big deal.
Also a big deal? They sell this t-shirt on their website.
Allison is not a trained artist, nor is she talented at drawing. But what she can do is regale you with her incredible research and fancy words. She’d love for you to visit her at her home on the interwebs, Allison’s Written Words, and subscribe to her blog’s Facebook page. She can also be contacted on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
She can’t draw Tippy. But she had fun coloring him!