Creativeprose: Tippy the Turtle and Pirates Too

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Do you remember the ads on matchbooks and in comic books that invited you to draw pirates, fawns, turtles, and other pen-and-ink characters? You sent your sketch to the experts at the Art Instruction Schools, who decided whether you had the chops to be a "serious art student." I assumed this charmingly low-pressure pitch had long since faded away. Then last weekend, I almost fell over when I saw a TV commercial hawking those same characters and that same pitch. Art Instruction Schools is alive -- it's even online!

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Tippy's stylin' in his turtleneck. (Get it?? Oh, those jokesters at the Art Instruction Schools!) And Mr. Blunderbuss there is a fine-lookin' pirate indeed.

I suppose I shouldn't judge what I haven't tried for myself, but I doubt Art Instruction Schools is worthwhile, despite its catchy motto ("Creating Better Artists Since 1914"), high-profile graduates (Charles Schultz is the best-known name), and sheer longevity.

That doesn't mean all education outside of traditional brick-and-mortar universities and colleges is suspect. There are oodles of ways to bolster your abilities. There's the long-distance learning route, which encompasses CreativePro.com, of course, as well as companies that specialize in training videos you download or view online, such as Lynda.com, and Vide2Brain.

When I have the time and the money, I prefer to leave my desk to learn. Professional associations such as the AIGA are a great place to hear about thought-provoking lectures, studio tours, and short courses.

And now I'm going to open up the topic to you. How do you like to learn? What's the most effective seminar/book/conference/talk over coffee you've experienced? Share your successes with us all and leave a Comment.

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