Remember talent tests like the ‘Draw Me’ ads in comic books? Many people consider that they were a scam. After all, anyone and everyone that made the effort to draw whatever character was displayed passed, whether it was of a pirate, a house, a donkey, or Bob Hope. Essentially, it was a clever ploy, devised as a means of selling an art course, and it served the advertisers more than it did most of the hopeful artists who drew and sent in a likeness.
Depending on where entrants lived, a salesman might even have been dispatched to show up at the door, unannounced, with the intention of selling a company’s instructional art program. Even back in the Depression, one firm’s version cost $170, rose to $300 by 1950, and is around $3,500 now, as a distance education course.
That said, it’s how Charles M. Schulz – creator of the ‘Peanuts’ comics strip – started. Seriously. He answered a “Do you like to draw?” ad, passed Art Instruction Inc.’s ‘talent test’, and started developing his abilities (he even became an instructor there later). Regrettably, not everyone answering an ad came out feeling as successful by their efforts as was Charles.
Why was he that successful, when others weren’t?