Draw the Pirate (2004) dir. Jeff Hopkins
Have you ever wondered if you had the interest and desire needed to become a serious art student? Don’t let the wonderful world of art pass you by.
To my shame, I have not yet seen The Shield, so I can’t speak to the similarities between this character (J. Cooper, according to the credits) and Detective Ronnie Gardocki, but I feel comfortable in assuming David Rees Snell considers this film the crowning achievement of his career.
Really, I don’t have a lot of analysis to add here. Any reference to the “Draw Me” pirate (or his frequent turtle companion) is automatically hilarious to me, his image being familiar to me from ads during morning television in my youth.
The “pirate” test – a surefire way to discern if somebody had the aptitude and the will to become an artist – is the recognizable legacy of Art Instruction Schools of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Simply make your own copy of the drawing on your application, send it in, and a qualified (possibly ridiculously overqualified, see below) instructor will send back a critique. Once you’ve been accepted (and your check has cleared), you complete your courses via snail mail at your leisure, sending drawings and receiving feedback. The institute opened in 1914 and – flying in the face of copious technological changes in art, design and correspondence – operated the exact same way for over 100 years. Somebody’s grandson tacked on a website on the end of the ad above (which despite appearances is hosted by the official Art Instruction Schools account), but if you’re serious about art you’ll invest in some postage.
Regretfully, the company is only serving current students through the end of the year and has stopped taking new enrollments. The ambitious and the talented will have to seek instruction elsewhere (from the school’s FAQ: “We recommend starting with a Google or YouTube search”). To the bitter end, Art Instruction Schools received mixed reviews from its patrons (the current top two Google reviews are “My instructors encourage me and are always available to answer my questions” and “If I dont get a refund I WILL go to the state attorney general office”).
But one guy was unwavering in his opinion: alumnus and legendary cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. The definitive biography Schulz and Peanuts describes how seriously Schulz took his roll as a student and later as an instructor with the school. Moreso, apparently, than most of his colleagues, who in the book hedge their descriptions of the intensity of the program, casting some doubt on the rigor applied to those pirate drawings.