Thursday, October 12, 2006

Albert Dorne - President

I wonder if Albert Dorne was contemplating the fate he managed to avoid when he drew this ad. In reference to the time before his illustration career, he wrote, "At 13 I quit school to support my family, and did pretty well at it."
During his teens Dorne had been a newsstand manager, an office boy for a movie theatre chain (and a salesman for a different movie chain), a shipping clerk and a professional fighter (he won his first ten bouts and was flattened in the eleventh, which knocked some sense into him about the best route to becoming an artist not being via the boxing ring).
"All through [the] years, young artists have come to me for advice on their own art careers," wrote Albert Dorne. "That's how the idea for the Famous Artists Schools was born."In 1948, the year Albert Dorne drew this ad for Frigidaire, he and 11 colleagues founded the Famous Artists School, with Dorne acting as president. Dorne's ambition to help cultivate the careers of struggling young artists would mean the virtual demise of his own as a commercial artist.In the early 60's, Dorne launched the Famous Writers School and The Famous Photographers School- evolving the correspondence school empire with 50,000 students around the world and a gross income of $10 million a year."My job as president of the schools takes at least twenty four hours a day," wrote Dorne. "I now do about two pictures a year - to keep my franchise."

"My only hobby is the Famous Artists Schools, " he wrote, "and my ambition is to make my school the most respected institution of its kind - anywhere."

All of today's images can be seen at full size in my Albert Dorne Flickr set.


  1. thanks for sharing that.

  2. Thanks for another great posting, Leif. Your description of Dorne as art teacher reminds me of a story that Leonard Starr once recalled about Dorne's lectures to illustration students.

    Reports Starr: Examples of Dorne's work were hung on the walls of lecture hall. I noticed one of the students looking at a painting of an old workhorse, a straw hat on its head, holes cut for its ears, a mess of gray bristles around its nose. The kid just stared and stared at it. At the Q & A after the talk, the boy raised his hand and asked how Dorne managed to do all of that marvelous detail, hat straw rendering, nose hair, etc. Dorne looks at the kid, shrugs, says, "I'm good."

  3. I love that. Truth is simple, isn't it David? Thanks for the great anecdote. :-)

  4. About ten years ago I found all 3 complete binders of the (1954?) Famous Artist courses in a used book store for $15 each. What a brilliant instructional course that really should be made available again today. There are many artists working who could definitely benefit from them. Thanks for the look at Dorne this week. He's one of my favorite artists!

  5. That was an amazingly lucky find, Joe - and I agree, we could all learn a lot by going back and reviewing through those course books!

  6. Dorne makes the rest of look like wusses. David A, thank you for that Leonard Starr story.

    And thanks, as ever, for this great blog, Leif!

  7. You're very welcome, Mike - thanks for your comment! :-)