When I first started doing images on the Etch, they didn't take very long to complete. Over the course of the last twenty years, I've invested literally thousands of hours on the Etch A Sketch. Now an average piece takes between 70 to 80 hours. The image is one continuous line so if I make a mistake, I'm forced to start over.
Ohio Art first started sending me Etches when I was about 11 years old. I would enter their monthly contests - and always win. Finally, a company representative came to the house to see if I was actually doing the images. I was, and they took some of my artwork on tour to different museums around the country.
Before I invest time creating my art, I have to shake a new Etch A Sketch to test if it will produce crisp, clear lines. Shaking the Etch can be tricky. I have to ensure that there are no marks or lines on the screen. Sometimes it can be challenging finding the right Etch A Sketch. I often go through several before I find the one that will work the best.
Before I used to just start etching and see what I come up with. Now I carefully plan out the image before starting any work on the Etch. I design as much as I can that will fit on the 5 x 7 inch screen. I draw the image out on paper ahead of time in my sketchbook. Once I am confident that I can draw the image on paper and capture the likeness of the individuals, I get started on the Etch.
I work slowly and meticulously with the line, knowing that if I make a mistake I have to start over. I start by getting all the line work of the portraits in first. It is the quickest part, but also the most challenging. Trying to capture someone's likeness is difficult - if it looks like them, I move on. If it doesn't, I must start over.
Once I get all the line work in and I am confident I can make it look like the people, I begin to shade. That is the easy part, but also the most time consuming and tedious. What looks like one line may be traced over between ten to fifteen times. To actually do the shading from light to dark may require a line being traced over 20 to 30 times.
Once my work is complete, I have to make sure that it can never be erased. Aluminum powder is inside the Etch and sticks to the glass when you shake it. A stylus inside scratches off the powder, thus creating the image. I must carefully remove both powder and stylus so that the image on the screen becomes permanent. I have traveled with my Etches, shipped them across country, and have never had a problem.
The Etch is now complete. I always strive to make each new piece better then my last work of art. I try to fit in as much detail as possible, which separates me from others. I photograph each Etch for my website, and my own personal collection.
My work has provided me with many unique opportunities to meet world famous athletes and celebrities. The best part is watching their reactions when they see the art for the first time. They are always amazed and in awe of what I can do with an Etch A Sketch.