Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Free Art Talent Test! See Offer Inside

Before the term "graphic designer" became part of our lexicon, many artist correspondence schools popped up across the country to train "commercial artists" for careers in advertising. During the 1940s and 50s, matchbook advertising was considered one of the most effective methods of reaching a wide audience of young talent, (or maybe they just assumed all artists were smokers at the time). The schools encouraged men and women to enter their talent tests and submit drawings for chances to win scholarships and earn big money. Although tempted myself, I was too young to enter, but I can recall carefully copying some of the "Draw Me" matchbook illustrations of dogs in the early sixties. It was my first introduction to the world of advertising art. Note to students: this old matchbook talent test still has merit, and would make a great lettering exercise in class this quarter. Stand on notice! The matchbook gem above is from Michael Karshis' Flickr photostream. 

There is something so delicious about this clown drawing and the awkward "circus type". It looks more like an advertisement for clown school than art school. It is from Animation Archive where you can read a great post on the Famous Artists School correspondence courses.

Naked girlz and men smoking pipes were a constant theme of many of the advertising campaigns. This cover is one from Design for Good. 

Earn Big Money drawing "Spunky"! From Calsidyrose's Flickrstream.

Art Talent Hunt from What is This? New talent needed!

Front and inside covers of the landscape challenge. From eBay.

Free art contest! Draw the Boxer and you may be a winner too. Front and inside matchcover from the Letterology Archives.


  1. i love these, when i was 11 i drew the boxer, sent it in and they told me i got a "B", that i had talent, but could use some more instruction... i never took the course, but it was fun taking the test!

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    1. Ahh, this took me right back to my pre digital Art School where we did have a tutor who smoked a pipe in class!
      ...and oops for pressing the wrong button above!

  3. I was about 14 or 15 when I sent in one of those "Draw me" offers from a magazine ad. I recall that after I drew the head and sent it in, they mailed me a visual test to take. [does that part sound familiar to anyone?] I did the test, sent it away and before I knew it, they called my house to discuss classes!! My mother was NOT happy though I kept saying "but they said I had talent". Very funny how innocent everything seemed back then.

  4. Thanks. This really brings back memories. I never sent a picture in, but I did consider it!


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