Draw Me!

When I was a kid cigarette smoking was much more prolific. Several of my parents’ friends smoked. It was more of a social symbol than anything. When you watched television or movies it seemed like everyone smoked. Although I hated the smell of smoke it was something you just learned to tolerate. One of the side effects of being around people that smoked (other than continuously smelling like you just played several hours inside a fireplace) was that there were a large assortment of matchbooks always lying around. Now before you think I am about to confess to being a closet pyromaniac let me assure you that is not where this story is going. I was always fascinated by these matchbooks. Some of them had interesting words of wisdom and some of them showed detailed works of art upon the covers. I studied each cover fascinated with the notion that someone somewhere had a job where they had to decide what to put on the outside of the matchbook. I always thought about what that guy must be like at dinner parties. As you were mingling with the other guests before dinner conversation naturally turned towards what each person did for a living. It would get to the matchbook guy and the whole rest of the evening would be spent trying to explain to people how you get all that stuff on the cover of a book of matches. You’re probably at this point wishing this story had been a confession of me being a pyromaniac, sorry. Of all the matchbooks there were one set that I was more fascinated with than any other.

There were a series of matchbook covers that had two simple words written on the cover, Draw Me! These words were usually accompanied with a small cartoon graphic. They were designed by the Art Instruction school which was a correspondence school specializing in teaching cartooning and illustration. According to the instructions you were to attempt to draw the figure on the outside of the cover then send it along with a small fee. The instructors would then evaluate your drawing and determine if you had the skills necessary to become a serious artist. As a budding artist I always collected these matchbooks and continued to try and master each pencil stroke of the drawing seeing how closely I could match what was seen on the cover. Caution T-Shirt.jpgOnce I mastered a particular illustration I would send it in to the art school and await their assessment of my talent. I am sure the faculty at Art Instruction Incorporated had a great laugh at receiving all of these drawings from a 7 year old kid in Idaho. It was quite a source of frustration for me since I diligently worked on these drawings but never heard anything back from the Art Instruction School. I would ultimately give up on my dream of being identified as a child art prodigy. It was clear that I was not destined to become one of the youngest alumni of this storied school of higher learning.

While I never did pursue a career in cartooning and illustration, I never did give up my dream of one day being recognized as an artist. I have played in various mediums such as oil paints, acrylics, water colors, pen and ink, and my personal favorite pencil. Throughout my life I have found myself keeping a sketchbook where I would take time to draw when time permitted. There are still days that I wonder what would happen if I took that Draw Me test today. Would the Art Instruction School at least acknowledge my entry and assess my art talents? To be honest I have no idea if the school even exists any more or if they even use the matchbook cover testing. In my mind it was the precursor to the SAT and probably a better indication of college worthiness. My dreams of becoming an artist have long been dormant until now. Over the past few games at Chase Field I have noticed that the Diamondbacks are taking a page from the old Art Instruction Schools. They are looking for a budding artist to design a T-Shirt that will be created and handed out to 25,000 people at the August 9 game at Chase Field. This is perfect! All of those years in my childhood working to draw Bambi and other characters will finally pay off. All I need to do is to create something Diamondbacks related. Time was of the essence. The deadline for this artistic endeavor is 11:59 PM tonight June 16. I rushed to the closet to retrieve my collection of matchbook covers then to the cabinet to find a pencil sharpener. Who knows, if I am successful with this it might just be a stepping stone to a career in the high-paced world of professional illustration. This is going to be awesome!

1 Comment

  1. The Agony of Defeat

    A few weeks ago I wrote about my entry for the Arizona Diamondbacks promotion where they were allowing one fan to design a T-shirt that would be given away before the August 9th game against the Atlanta Braves. I got…

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