When artists reflect back on their first artistic creations they seem to say the same things: “When I was a child my favorite pastime was making
insert art form here. I did it all of the time and all of my friends and relatives thought I might be a little obsessed.”

Not all artists share this youthful memory but a large number of them seem to believe that they were destined to create the art that they make a living off of (Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, Dan Piraro, Brian Michael Bendis, Peter Jackson, and the list goes on). When I reflect on my childhood there was never one specific medium I couldn’t step away from and still to this day I have no idea what medium I want to devote my life to.

When I was growing up I showed no signs of artistic development in any field (and to this day very little has changed). Rather than being independently motivated, my artistic promise was facilitated by a selection of toys like the Spirograph, Lite-brite, Play-doh, Legos, Lincoln Logs, and the Etch A Sketch. I would spend hours utilizing these different toys as though they were each a different art making medium that I could explore in a variety of ways. Nothing significant ever came from these creations but they started a long fascination with child-like creations and their ability to keep the mind young.

Tonight I had the privilege of experimenting with one of these toys again for the first time in years. I babysat a group of three crazy kids (6, 8, and 9 years of age) and had a blast creating with them using the same toys I had as a child. We developed paper airplanes and fiddled with a brand new Etch A Sketch that the 9 year old had just received as an early Christmas present.

Once the kids had been put to bed I decided to pop on a movie and pick up the Etch A Sketch instead of my sketch book. After about an hour of Mr. Deeds and a lot of knob turning I had created this goofy little gem:

I must apologize for the quality of the photograph, I only had my cellphone available and the temporary quality of Etch A Sketch art required documentation at that moment or it would have forever been lost. Out of all of the things I cherish in this world, the ability to bring out my youthful side is something that I couldn’t live without. This picture was a great way for me to rediscover an art form that I hadn’t had access to in years. Maybe I’ll devise an Etch A Sketch animation sometime in the future.

Stay youthful,
Ryan Zlomek

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