Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

The Magic Dust of Child Artists

Wed Sep 12, 2012, 7:35 PM by techgnotic:icontechgnotic:








:icontechgnotic: Sep 12, 2012 by techgnotic

When recently asked how his political candidate would explain certain positions taken during the
nomination process with contrary positions to be taken during the general election, the campaign chief
replied that stated political positions were “like an Etch A Sketch,”—meaning they could simply be
flipped over, erased and begun over from scratch.


Were it that adult life were as simple as a happy Etch A Sketch memory from childhood.


(The campaign chief took heavy heat for his flippant, if truthful, statement.) The incident made
me wonder how many of us had early experiences as “sketch artists” with that incredible red toy that
has become almost standard issue for so many children still to this day.















For those unfamiliar with the magical plastic slate, an Etch A Sketch is filled with aluminum powder
which scraped off a glass screen with a simple stylus operated by the artist (one knob controls horizontal,
one vertical—the true artistry comes in the dual knob operation required for curved lines). The art itself is
fleeting, a simple flipping over of the tablet makes polystrene beads re-coat the glass “canvas” surface
with the aluminum powder. Like so many, I spent many an hour engrossed in trying to produce
ever more evocative works from that simple art machine, forever trying to learn that perfect touch to get
the curved lines right.



We house an incredible array of line art drawings on deviantART that are pure amazement of detail and
meticulous design. There is a natural thread that flows through the first workings of an Etch a Sketch beginner
through to the mastery of beautiful sketch or line drawing by a skilled artist.




Line Art Drawings (on deviantART)





























An Interview withJane Labowitch


I thought it would be best to have a friend of one of our most skilled Etch a Sketch enthusiasts handle this introduction.







:iconayame-kenoshi:


Ayame-Kenoshi:




It’s with greatest pleasure that I introduce Jane (pikajane), one of deviantART's most talented Etch A Sketch artists. She
creates masterful portraits and stunningly accurate fan art, all by deftly turning those two knobs on that small plastic box that
frustrated so many of our childhoods. Her efforts have earned her a
deviantART Creative Grant
-- a program providing a source of funding to allow artists to make their creative dreams a reality. Jane plans to use her deviantART Creative
Grant to create two installations to be displayed in galleries. The first installation will be a life-size rendition of a skeleton,
using multiple Etch A Sketches mounted to a wall. The second installation will be a 3-dimensional piece using a skeleton as a base
for several mounted Etch A Sketches, which will act as a sort of "reverse x-ray." She's already hard at work on this project,
purchasing Etch A Sketches and depicting various parts of the skeleton. In this interview, she talks about working with her chosen
medium, her plans for future projects, and gives tips to aspiring Etch A Sketch artists.













techgnotic:

Why Etch A Sketch? Is this a purely artistic aesthetic fascination or something deeply meaningful to you? How long have you worked with Etch A Sketches?





pikajane:

I started playing with an etch a sketch when I was about 4, and as a child I didn't realize there was anything special about being able to create anything more than rudimentary shapes. It started as a toy I loved to tinker with, but throughout my life it has grown into a passion. I love painting and drawing and working digitally, but there is something truly special about creating art on an etch a sketch for me.









techgnotic:

Can you sense who is going to immediately “get” your art and who will be less receptive; i.e., does the medium being viewed first as a child’s toy block some people’s ability to appreciate the quality of the art?





pikajane:

Yes! There are definitely some that are more receptive to my art than others. Sometimes I feel as though people will respond the same to my etch a sketch art no matter what I etch. I have to keep myself in check so that I don't get complacent--I always want to keep improving!





















techgnotic:

Beyond your Etch A Sketch-Skeleton project, do you have an ultimate Etch A Sketch installation idea?





pikajane:

I have a few project ideas I'd love to pursue. Lately I've been wanting to create images using multiple etch a sketches, so that when you set them next to each other, the individual screens comprise the full image. I am doing this with a few etch a sketches for the skeleton project, but I'd also love to try this with some famous paintings. I also have a few series ideas running in my mind, but nothing has been fully planned yet. If I could work on an ultimate etch a sketch instillation, I think it would be a mural made entirely out of etch a sketches.



















techgnotic:

What are your best tips for an EtchaSketch artist?





pikajane:

First and foremost, practice practice practice! Everyone has to start at the basics. Even I did when I first started playing with an etch a sketch. The only reason I got where I am today as an etch a sketch artist is because I have put a lot of practice into my passion. And the more you play with an etch a sketch, the easier it gets.



To everyone that would love to start etching, here's a few tips for how to improve your skills:


Practice basic shapes, starting with the square. When you turn both knobs at once at the same speed, you get a diagonal line. When you turn them both at varying speeds, you get a curve. A circle is the hardest basic shape to etch because it is made up of 4 curves. If you learn to make a circle, you're doing very well, but don't stop there! Once you master the basic shapes, try out drawing your favorite cartoon character. I started with cartoons, and moved to realism.



If you ever get frustrated, remember that like any form of art, etch a sketching takes time and patience. It took me years to get where I am today, but I believe that with determination and passion, you too can master the knobs.



















QuestionsFor the Reader


  1. Do you think there have there been other toys that have sparked and encouraged as much childhood creativity as Etch A Sketch?
  2. If you ever created with an Etch A Sketch did the frustration you experienced trying to draw on Etch A Sketch teach you discipline and practice are important in creating art … or just made you wonder if you had what it takes to be a dedicated artist?
  3. Do you detect a natural evolution from Etch A Sketch to something like Muro?
  4. Do you still own an Etch A Sketch, or was it long ago consigned its fate to that of Citizen Kane’s beloved sled?










When recently asked how his political candidate would explain certain positions taken during the nomination process with contrary positions to be taken during the general election, the campaign chief replied that stated political positions were “like an Etch A Sketch,” -- meaning they could simply be flipped over, erased and begun over from scratch.

Were it that adult life were as simple as a happy Etch A Sketch memory from childhood.

(The campaign chief took heavy heat for his flippant, if truthful, statement.) The incident made me wonder how many of us had early experiences as “sketch artists” with that incredible red toy that has become almost standard issue for so many children still to this day.


Writers: $techgnotic
Designers: $marioluevanos
Featured:
*pikajane
~bryanetch
Cthulhu! by =Sch1itzie
Tribute To Lee Jeffries by ~ronmonroe
crying by ~DanielGrzeszkiewicz
Add a Comment:
 
:iconkoldarion:
koldarion Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Bristle Blocks and Lincoln Logs
Reply
:iconamzel-raza:
AmZeL-rAzA Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I suddenly want one of those O.O
Reply
:icondreamscape195:
Dreamscape195 Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2012
(Go with the "pocket" size; they're much easier to use and if you take a peek back at those examples you'll see that's mostly what was used there too)
Reply
:iconjaney-in-a-bottle:
janey-in-a-bottle Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
never heard of etch-a-sketch until reading that article, but I'm very tempted to buy one now to see how well I'd do with one. :D
Reply
:iconpanicrawr:
PanicRawr Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Student General Artist
Yes, of course. when I was little I loved to play with legos and such, but I wasn't as creative when I was young.
Well, etch a sketch is hard to work with :lol:. I can't manage to make anything with that.. -.-
and muro doesn't work with my tablet somehow.
my etch a sketch is long gone. lol
Reply
:iconbeanbagbanger:
beanbagbanger Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love the etch a sketch and i like seeing the reactions people get when they see my etch work. I hope to get better in the future and maybe I could make a few bucks off of it. The first thing i remember making on the etch a sketch was yoshi. It looked amazingly terible but everyone seemed to think it was amazing, and naturally i got motivated into making more and more drawings on the etch a sketch. The first time I showed an adult my work he said,"oh shit!" lol
Reply
:icon14dreamer:
14Dreamer Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
1. Lego, sticks, balls, plushies, paper, tape, pencils, the usual.

2. At the age I used an etch a sketch, I didn't know what I wanted to be. The only thing it taught me was how frustratingly difficult it was. I would usually quit after a few days. The ones with a stylus instead of nobs served for hours upon hours of entertainment though. I cringe to think how much paper I would have used if not for those as a kid.

3. Not really.

4. My little brother used to have one, but it's broke a few weeks ago.
Reply
:iconlevesconte:
LEVESCONTE Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
1) writing stick. legos. construx. Etch-a-sketch = unflexible.
2) broke etch a sketch and smeared the dust on the wall. Made my own rules.
3) Muro? that is the DA template crap program right? good for making things look like everyone else? nah, I make my own rules.
4) I hide my russian coutierfit money in it now. Used to be drugs, but I don't do em anymore.

... Etch-a-skech is good, unless you can find some paper and a pencil, then it blows. end of story.
Reply
:iconmandi2r:
mandi2r Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah the best I ever got with an etch a scetch is drawing the outline of the US..
Now I can't practice without my little one grabbing it from me.
Reply
:iconjchocol8:
jchocol8 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
1. Legos, paper, pencils, pens, water color and tempra paints, clay, plasticene modeling clay, magic sand, play dough, and so on.
2. I have yet to master a curved line but I got pretty good at mini-step arcs, but my biggest frustration was having to share with younger siblings.
3. Whats Muro?
4. I've seen more broken Etch A Sketches than I care to remember as well as having lost a few. But now I'm looking forward to trying my hand again.
Reply
:iconfluffycloudbunny:
FluffyCloudBunny Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
1. To be honest it was nothing. I mean sure I created stuff with toys and stuff, but it was the pure experience of having to use your head to create everything from scratch and imagine that funneled by creativity. With no limitations of physical objects, there was no limit to what I could create. And so I did.

2. No, it just taught me not to use it. x3

3. Not really.
Reply
:icongiratina4857:
Giratina4857 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Professional Artist
Interresting,but I never tried those things and never touch one when I was young :( but this is great :D
Reply
:iconjustatry2552:
JustATry2552 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
Had tried this toy when i ws youhng, and it's too difficult to draw with. I always wandered if it's really possible to draw with or if what we see are fakes.
Reply
:iconthb886:
THB886 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
WOW!never see such a sketch board before,that's amazing,though looks different to use...
Reply
:iconthemexicanduck:
themexicanduck Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
cool
Reply
:iconloaves:
loaves Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
Play-doe was a toy that inspired me to do 3-D art in sculptures but never anything to brag about LOL!

I often wondered if I was 'Etch-a-sketch' impaired because I just couldn't do beyond the basic shapes of squares and rectangles.

Absolutely! If one can control the Etch-a-Sketch, Muro would be snap!

I do not own an Etch-a-Sketch but would consider purchasing one just to doodle with while waiting at Doctor's offices and such!
Reply
:iconloaves:
loaves Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
I am so amazed at the art this artist created using an etch-a-sketch!! I was always frustrated with it because of the problem of timing the movements with the knobs! But her simple explanation of how to do the basic shapes is something I wished I had known when I once had one of these toys. I am always amazed by what true artists come up with using items that would never be considered in a conventional artist's studio. She inspires me to look beyond conventional. I like that!
Reply
:iconpmzwebdesign:
PMZWebDesign Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
wow i miss those days. i still my first one from the early 80's :wave:
Reply
:iconpmzwebdesign:
PMZWebDesign Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
those were the good days! i still have mine from early 80's wow! :wave:
Reply
:iconsanseep:
sanseep Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
9ic he g
[link]
[link]
Reply
:iconyoshisghost:
YoshisGhost Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
yes Lego was awesome but my brothers always put me to shame i was more a fan of the cardboard box
yes it seems simple but with a pair of scissors and a couple felt pens it could be a special hideout :D
i hated etch a sketch it drove me crazy i could never get the kind of picture i wanted so i stuck with simple things like wood and nails
Reply
:iconbigjoe980:
bigjoe980 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012
A cardboard box eh? Isn't it amazing how easily we could entertain ourselves as kids compared to now? (Both as we age, and the up coming generations in comparison?)
Reply
:iconkestudi:
Kestudi Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist
After staring at the amazing works of art here, I immediately rummaged through all my toys to try and locate my own etch-a-sketch, did so, began fiddling with the knobs, got a weird blobbly line-mess, and threw it at the wall in frustration.
Reply
:iconnoellisty:
Noellisty Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student Artisan Crafter
Try doodling on a mini etch-a-sketch and see where your frustration will take you with that;p
Reply
:iconkestudi:
Kestudi Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist
It'll most likely take me to a much smaller dent in the wall than the one I made with the large etch-a-sketch but I'll root around for one and see what happens! :eager:
Reply
:iconambermdigitalpaints:
ambermdigitalpaints Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I STILL love Lite Brite! It was my favorite toy in the 80s! :)
Reply
:iconbryanetch:
bryanetch Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Professional Artist
I'm an etch a sketch artist (pics above) and I can't wait to make some lite brite art! in the meantime, i've been doing skittle/m&m candy art. love the obscure mediums.
Reply
:iconambermdigitalpaints:
ambermdigitalpaints Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your etch a sketch art is awesome! I'd love to see what you would do with a lite brite!
Reply
:iconacla13:
acla13 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
Though I don't remember very well if I had ever tried 'Etch a Sketch', it reminded my childhood great times when I would dream of becoming an artist and my only worry was getting good marks in Maths... And meanwhile I used everything I got for my drawings. :painter:
Reply
:iconoppositeattractions:
OppositeAttractions Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
1. The most simple (and painful, if you ever stepped on it) thing to ever be made; Lego. It gave hours of fun, as well as a challenge, because you'd always have the problem where you just didn't have enough bricks for something, so you'd have to improvise. Was always fun! Hell, it still is!

2. Honestly, I never had an Etch A Sketch. But I did have one which was like it. Instead of the two knobs, you had a pen which had a magnetic tip to pull the filaments to the surface. Was a great thing, but by God did it make me frustrated when it wouldn't make a smooth line. I think in the end I just got bored with it and ended up drawing boxes.

3. ... never used Muro so I couldn't say.

4. Well... I probably still got my drawing thingy somewhere... it'll probably be at my nans. Either that or it has gone to the great toy box in the sky.
Reply
:iconmarieriver:
MarieRiver Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I had the cool blue screen thing with the pen that would draw things on it and then you would move the knob at the bottom of the screen and it would slide a bar thing below the screen to erase your picture so you could start over. I loved that thing. I had cool stencils and stamps with mine which made it extra fun. Which I still had it because it's really cool for practicing.
As for the etch-a-sketch, I never about one of those things until I saw it in Toy Story and I wondered what the heck it was and how the heck you did anything with it.
Legos were cool too and so were those bead sets were you could make necklaces and bracelets and stuff.
Reply
:iconoppositeattractions:
OppositeAttractions Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, that's what it was! You just pulled the knob at the bottom and the whole image was gone. And you had the circles and stars... way too much fun...

Nah, I only really used Lego. I'm not clever enough to make necklaces and stuff, I can't tie nots in the string. >.>
Reply
:iconmarieriver:
MarieRiver Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ha ha. Not everyone likes everything. I remember not being that great with the legos while my brother could build a helicopter. I would stick to houses and cars for the lego people to use. I still found them fun though.
Reading the comments, I remembered how much I liked a blackboard and chalk, and pencil or whatever kind of colours you liked [crayons, coloured pencils, markers, paint, etc] and paper. I was always drawing or colouring something on some piece of paper. Such fun times.
Reply
:iconoppositeattractions:
OppositeAttractions Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
That one goes without saying, of course! I used to try and make, like, the buildings from one of the Lego computer games... used to frustrate me when I couldn't get it perfect (they weren't even close) but I'd always pretend... that kept me going for hours!

Ain't nowt wrong with a bit of chalk and a black board! Nor with crayons or anything... 'cept I went through that stage of 'I MUST EAT THIS, FOR IT IS COLOURFUL!' stage of life while I had them... >.>
Reply
:iconjaunitadickison80:
jaunitadickison80 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I remeber playin with one of those when I was just a youngin. I've always considered myself an artists, but never could draw on one of those. Give you guys all the credit. Pat on the back for such beautiful work.
Reply
:icondamageincm:
DamageIncM Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I had a classic one as well. But in all honesty, even though I was fascinated with the device itself and I did have my fun with it, I also hated the thing.
Cause even if I wanted to make the simplest drawings, the pin that "draws" would just lag and drag behind, causing me to mess up sublte curves and such.
Maybe mine was broken from the start, I don't know. But I didn't get the point of drawing with it, except that it was maybe a challenge, like a semi-game.
Because of course you had the two rotating knobs, only having access to two dimensions and the pen would never leave the surface, making it more of a challenge.
But if I wanted to actually draw and create something, I needed the control, so I'd go with a pencil or a pen or anything more free and open like that.
Also, if you would tell me people would make actual works out of it, I wouldn't believe it. It's only until I saw photos of it many years later that I knew it was possible.
It's just like when you see those sand-artists making images and scenes out of just sand with their hands. You almost can't believe it.
But like I said, I was a bit more fascinated by the device itself, how the thing atually works.
So, although I do call myself an artist today (albeit more in music and photography), I think I always leaned towards technicalities more.
Reply
:iconthe-sashimi-frog:
the-sashimi-frog Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I cannot help but be amazed by what people can produce on an Etch-a-Sketch! I couldn't even draw a staircase! The only other toy I can think of that sparks that much creativity is the Spirograph, and perhaps the "Crayola Creation Station" or somthing like that. I still remember when the 64 color box came out!
Reply
:iconlandyman46:
landyman46 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
i grew up with etcha sketch
Reply
:iconredracoon09:
RedRacoon09 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
1. I will argue that toys depicting characters, just anything, could be a stuffed dragon to a lego cowboy, offer more. Children act out zany scenes from their heads alone with these things, and when paired with a playmate are challenged to improvise or even put on a show. In this way, they become tools for an up-and-coming writer(I never wrote outside of school before 5th grade). What I see here is just a story about an artist's rise made unique simply by the tool he uses. I used to act out, shall we say, "unscripted" plots with my lego men and crazy epic battles--this is still a bit embarrassing for me to admit.

2. That would be "no" once and "no" again. On a subconscious level, I knew some people could very likely develop expert skill with an Etch-a-Sketch. Every time I used it, it was simply a toy to me. Sometimes I tried to be serious, but it was so hard I ditched it. Fuck this noise, I thought. Don't get me wrong, though. One man's revulsion is another's obsession. Or in this case, "demon" and "angel."

3. I guess. With Muro, separate devices or buttons aren't needed for different directions for stroke. And then there's color. Yeah.

4. Not even that. You won't catch me muttering, "Etch-a-Sketch" after destroying shit in my house as I make my girlfriend-actress cry. If I even had a personal Etch-a-Sketch, I'd see it consigned to the same fate as the printer in Office Space. Que music: "Die, Motherfucker, Die".
Reply
:iconravensartshack:
ravensartshack Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
I prefered my crayons with paper. Tinker toy, legos, spirograph...:D
Reply
:iconjayvonswagg:
jayvonswagg Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow can be people be that good on those little things.
Reply
:iconquinteels:
Quinteels Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
All the childhood memories coming back to me... I wonder where I put it?
Reply
:icondynamoe:
Dynamoe Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012
I've had several of them over the years and they are as popular to me as a frisbee might be to others. I also liked the Light Brite toy which allowed you to make something using lighted pegs.
Reply
:iconrosanovella:
rosanovella Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student Writer
Great article about a wonderful toy. I had no idea it was still used to day. It warms my heart. :)
And the detailed work...just wow!
Reply
:iconyasmin88:
Yasmin88 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012   General Artist
1. crayons, pencils, ink, markers and oh the thrill of stealing a teacher's pieces of chalk and scribbling on the blackboard behind her/his back plus coloring books, knock-off Legos, crafting and flying kites and crafting other stuff with papier mache :D
2. I never created anything with an etch a sketch
3. I think everything is connected somehow so I guess there would be an evolution in art mediums as mentioned
4. I never owned an etch a sketch. this is the first time I've even heard of it >.<
Reply
:icondamageincm:
DamageIncM Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
4. How the heck did you manage that?

I take it you're from 1988? Well, I'm from '87 and I hád one.
Nothing personal or any offense really, but I blame your parents. :P
Besides, didn't you see 'Toy Story'?... There was one in there...
Reply
:iconyasmin88:
Yasmin88 Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012   General Artist
I did see Toy Story and loved it a lot but didn't catch the toy's name properly as English is my second language and I wasn't good enough at it to understand everything. Plus I thought it was the toy with the magnetic pen :/ . I don't blame my parents as my dad doesn't have artistic interests besides photography which was a past time hobby that he didn't get deep into; he's more interested in science. And as for my mom she's mostly interested in traditional media arts, crafts and cross stitch...
Reply
:icondamageincm:
DamageIncM Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Alright. :D

I was only kidding about it being your parents their fault though. :P
Although, they do have some influence over what you grow up on of course.

But I'm actually Dutch, but I still got that it's the "Etch-A-Sketch" in 'Toy Story'.
I don't actually remember what I called it when I was little, as it was certainly not 'Etch-A-Sketch'.
The thing was just the thing to me. The classic red with the white knobs and all that.
But I don't know how popular it was in the '90s, maybe I was one of the few that got one at that time.
Reply
:icon7-nation-army:
7-Nation-Army Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012  Student Photographer
Never heard of Etch-a-Sketch! :O
Reply
:iconyasmin88:
Yasmin88 Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2012   General Artist
Yeah. I live in a developing country and was a kid in the 90s. We had toy stores but they were limited. Maybe cuz it's a toy from the 60s and I never had elder brothers, sisters or cousins plus my parents never told me if they ever used it ... I really donno the reason why :O
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:icontechgnotic: More from techgnotic


Featured in Collections

Journals by GiottoLover

Journals and News by RavenclawChic

News by Katy133


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
September 12, 2012
Submitted with
Sta.sh Writer
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
79,413 (1 today)
Favourites
740 (who?)
Comments
477
×