Lessons on Life and Creativity by Cartoonist Charles Schultz

As a gift for my husband, I recently purchased the comic strip anthology, Celebrating Peanuts: 65 Years. While enjoying the cartoons, I found myself fascinated with the quotes from Charles Schultz peppered throughout and stories of his evolution as a world-famous artist. I pulled them together to share some lessons on life and creativity.

Above all, do what you enjoy. According to Schultz, “When I was a child, dad liked reading me the funnies, and I liked listening and looking at the funny pictures.”

Do what you are good at. “The first indication that I had a drawing talent was in kindergarten … (when) the teacher said to me, “Someday, Charles, you’re going to be an artist.”

Dream big. “After high school, I had a job delivering packages, and I used to enjoy walking by the windows of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and watching the Sunday comics as they came rolling off the presses. It was my dream, of course, that one day my own comic strip would be included.”

Look for inspiration all around you. Monte, Charles’ son, was fascinated with World War I model airplanes. Snoopy’s flying ace character with the goggles, long scarf, and leather helmet stemmed from this interest.

Try to improve a little each day. “There’s not much room in comic strips for drastic change. … try some new directions now and then, … maybe introduce a new character.” Did you know that Snoopy had more than 100 alter egos? Some of the most memorable were the typewriter-wielding author perched on top of the doghouse, the troop leader to Woodstock and his avian friends, the World-Famous Astronaut, the Easter Beagle, and who could forget, Joe Cool.

Look for growth opportunities. “A comic strip has to grow…. search out new territories.” In 1968 following the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., Schultz created an African American character, Franklin. Pushing the envelope beyond comic strips, Schultz expanded to produce books, TV shows, and full-length movies, too.

Stand out from the crowd. After two weeks of comic strips, Schultz first drew the Charlie Brown character in December 1950 with a plain white T-shirt, “but he didn’t bounce off the page. So, I gave him that little jagged stripe… (that) set Charlie Brown apart.” 

Just go for it. Here’s my favorite 5-cent advice from Lucy Van Pelt’s lemonade-stand psychiatric clinic: “Life is like a grocery cart! Each of us has a grocery cart, and the world is our supermarket! The world is filled with wonderful things! Push your cart down the aisles, Charlie Brown! Push it right up to the checkout counter!”

In conclusion, you might struggle like Charlie Brown did attempting to fly a kite or kicking a football or reckoning with the countless baseball games that got rained out, but with practice and persistence, you could end up like Snoopy doing a happy dance.

Barbara Graceffa owns and operates Secretary of the Interior in Quincy, MA offering creative solutions at reasonable rates. Learn more about her decorating, downsizing, decluttering and home décor sewing services, decorating workshops, and quilt programs and shows at www.sec-interior.com. And don’t miss her beautiful and creative art quilts on Instagram @secretaryinteriordecorating. You can reach her at 617.921.6033.

By Barbara Graceffa

Barbara Graceffa, CEO of Secretary of the Interior, serves decorating clients; assists with professional organizing, home staging and moving assistance; teaches on these subjects; and delivers quilt lectures and trunk shows.

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