Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


The Art of Art Instruction Inc. Draw Me! Free Talent Test! Vintage Matchbook Cover Art

Do you like to draw?  Do you like to draw "do you like to draw" ads?  I presume millions saw these masterpieces of matchbook art.  I have no idea how many took the time to squeeze their name onto the address section inside, but "Art Instruction Inc." is still in business after 100 years.  With the demise of the matchbook (their former audience is literally dying off...you don't need a match for a vapor cigarette) they must advertise somewhere else. There is a pull-down menu on their website to indicate "How you heard about Art Instruction Schools" but matchbook isn't among the options.  If you did apply because you saw one of these mid-century beatnik-like ads, you would have to choose the "other" selection on the form.

One does not "attend" as the "school" is a correspondence program.  Fake colleges have made a comeback…real college is increasingly out of reach for those who need it most.  Who enrolls?  Well, they generally do not accept students UNDER 14.  What?  Until you are 14 years of age, I guess they want you to practice and apply when you've reached puberty. Another portion of the website says their students start as young as 13 and well into their 80s.


Back in the old days, if one filled out a matchbook, they would likely be surprised by a jalopy-driving salesman at their door to close the deal.  They still have salesman dropping in, circling their allocated territory like Google mapping cars.  The program still employs  representatives who make scheduled appointments to obtain a signature in person. 

Their honor student was Charles Schultz.  He figures on the webpage today as a grateful student and actually taught there for a while…but he hardly grew beyond drawing circles.  I have seen Stephen Colbert draw a reasonable Snoopy, and I don't believe he attended. Other alumni include an editorial cartoonist, a Lucas film illustrator, a fashion illustrator, a wildlife artist or two (winner of the Federal Duck Stamp contest) and a set designer for Cecil B. Demille.  Pretty impressive…until one considers that is their 100 year track record.  Peanuts.

From what I can tell, the program costs $4285.00 (27 monthly payments of $150.00) plus the cost of postage to mail your work back and forth to headquarters.  They seem to have mail drops in every state.  I wondered about their policy on dropping out, and sure enough the program provides it on the website, state by state.  Here is the policy I would have:

State: Michigan
Cancelation Policy:
When Notice of Withdrawal is given: After five calendar days but before beginning training - a registration fee of 20% of the total tuition, not to exceed $200.00. After beginning of training - $200.00 registration fee plus 10% of the balance of the total tuition until 10% of the assignments are completed. After completing 10% of the assignments but prior to completing 25% of the assignments - $200.00 registration fee plus 25% of the balance of the total tuition. After completing 25% of the assignments but prior to completing 50% of the assignments - $200.00 registration fee plus 50% of the balance of the total tuition. After completing 50% of the assignments the full course price will be due.
Days no Responsibility: 5 days
Type: Percent - Cancel up to 50%
Registration Fee: $200.00

Can you draw?  Maybe the question should be Can you READ.  I can't figure it out.  It appears some 95% or so complete the program.

I have been interested in "self-taught" artists for decades.  There is no telling how many artists the school nurtured (or ruined) over the years, but I might have seen some of their work in antique malls.  There used to be category of artist known as "Sunday Artists" but the Art Instruction Inc. is open every day of the week. 


Details of matchbook advertising circa 1950 - 1960.  Original matchbooks collection Jim Linderman 

1 comment:

  1. Last week, the kids and I found a complete Famous Artists Painting Course at the thrift shop for three bucks. It's from 1965 and has huge cloth bound binders with all of the lessons (and the forms to submit with your completed work -- looks like whoever invested in this project first didn't follow through!) At first I thought it was the company that did the matchbooks, but it's close enough (and cheap enough) to satisfy my childhood curiosity. I think I saw the ads in comic books.