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Could You Draw This Turtle?

As a high school senior in St. Paul, Minnesota, Charles Schulz knew he wanted to be a cartoonist. He also knew he didn’t want to go to college or pursue any formal art education, afraid of being told he couldn’t cut it. Instead, Schulz asked his father for $169 to enroll in Art Instruction Schools, a Minneapolis-based correspondence course that promised students they could become proficient in any number of artistic pursuits by taking a 12-step lesson via the mail.

Since the 1920s, they’d been running ads in newspapers and magazines like this one:

While Tippy the Turtle was probably the most recognizable figure, it’s not known which character Schulz drew and submitted. It could have been Winky the Deer, or Reggie the Raccoon, or Spunky the Donkey. It also really didn’t matter if he could do it well; applicants to the school were accepted so long as their check cleared.

Despite the exorbitant cost to his father during the Great Depression, Schulz enrolled. Thanks to the debut of his Peanuts strip in 1950, he remains their most famous alumnus.

Founded in 1914 to find talent for a local engraving business, Art Instruction Schools (AIS) was one of a number of mail-away art courses that prospered in the middle of the 20th century. With photography yet to fully take hold in advertising, commercial illustration was still a popular field. Universities, however, didn’t have the kind of extensive art curriculums of today. Thanks to eye-catching advertisements in newspapers, magazines, and on matchbooks, tens of thousands of would-be artists signed up for the programs.

AIS’s biggest competitor for that business was Famous Artists School, which counted Norman Rockwell among its celebrity endorsees—although he rarely evaluated submissions. At its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, Famous Artists had 40,000 doodlers taking the course. Once a drawing “test” was mailed in, the company would sometimes dispatch door-to-door salesmen to convince budding talent they had what it took to pursue a formal education in the arts and boasted accreditation by the Distance Education and Training Council.

Both AIS and FAS are still in operation today, although it’s difficult to estimate how many of their pupils have gone on to have careers in illustration; some of their critics have pointed out that art is very much a hands-on learning experience. Schulz, however, was enamored enough with AIS to migrate to their Minneapolis headquarters after a stint in the Army, becoming an instructor in the late 1940s. While there, he struck up several friendships with fellow teachers and asked if he could use their names for a strip he was planning to submit to newspaper syndicates. Both Linus Maurer and Charlie Brown said yes.

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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Made.com
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Art
What the Homes of the Future Will Look Like, According to Kids
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Made.com

Ask a futurist what the house of tomorrow will feature and she might mention automatic appliances and robot assistants. Ask a kid the same question and you’ll get answers that are slightly more creative, but not altogether impractical. That’s what Made.com discovered when they launched Homes of the Future, a project that had kids draw illustrations of futuristic homes that served as the basis for professional 3D renderings.

According to Co.Design, the UK-based furniture retailer recruited children ages 4 to 12 to submit their architectural ideas. The doodles, sketched in pen, marker, and colored pencil, showcase the grade-schoolers' imaginations. Paired with each picture is concept art made with a 3D illustrator that shows what the homes might look like in the real world.

The designs range from colorful and whimsical to coldly realistic. In one blueprint, drawn by Ameen, age 10, a neighborhood of rainbow buildings and flowers float among the clouds. Another sketch by Ellis, age 7, shows a “home built to last” with titanium, bricks, a steel roof, and bulletproof windows. Some kids seemed less concerned with durability than they were with the tastiness of the infrastructure. Cherry-flavored bricks, candy windows, and a giant jelly slide were just some of the features built into the future homes. Sustainability was also a major theme, with solar panels appearing on two of the houses.

Check out the original artwork and the 3D versions of their ideas below.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Made.com.

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