September 01, 2007


I've drawn my share of Tippy the Turtles and haggard old Pirates from the ubiquitous magazine ads, but until today I'd never seen an invitation to draw this cool Jester. I found this tiger-striped merrymaker in a 1961 issue of Co-Ed magazine (not what it sounds like). Thumb through enough old periodicals and you will inevitably come across an appeal to draw Tippy, Cubby the Bear, or the occasional fawn. These challenges have been issued to would-be artists by Art Instruction Schools since 1914. They're still chugging along, and they've got a web site now.

Years ago my wife submitted a test to them for me as a joke. About a week later I got a phone call from a real live representative who requested a one-on-one meeting. He was even willing to drive hours out of his way to accommodate me. It was extra funny because my wife had used a wacky pseudonym I liked to go by in situations such as that... Snare Demarais. So the Art rep would say things like... "So, Mr. Demarais... do you mind if I call you Snare? Well Snare, I think you have real potential..." At first I just told him that I'd changed my mind about a career in art, but after he relentlessly pursued me on the phone over a span of several weeks I finally revealed my wife's joke.

I still don't know what their racket is. Did I miss my chance to join a secret society? Maybe its like a group of artistic Freemasons. Regardless, I do admire them for sticking to a marketing campaign that's almost a century old.

Think you have what it takes? You can also check out a PDF of the test they mail out here via


Flashfink! said...

In Terry Zwigoff's documentary about him, Robert Crumb talks about the time he and his brother, Charles, took a similar "art test." The school's rep actually came to their home to talk to them. As I recall, the guy was very encouraging to Robert, but Charles' work was so crazed he wouldn't even talk to him.

Kirk D. said...

Ha! I'd forgotten that part. That's pretty interesting. I need to watch that flick again.