Move over, Lego: You’re not the only children’s toy that can make legitimate art. A good-ol’ Etch A Sketch can, too, when it’s in the hands of artist Bryan Madden, who has the skill to build castles out of silver sand.
We are now proud owners of an original Madden, who was generous enough to give us his impressive interpretation of our June cover for us to keep. Rest assured, we shall cherish it.
Madden started out like the rest of us, blithely and mostly randomly turning those iconic white-plastic wheels when he was 7 or 8. He later graduated to replicating local landmarks, like the grocery store where he grew up in North Salem. Around 2008, he took a stab at a more ambitious subject, New York City, the response to which was sufficiently positive as to convince him that he may be on to something. He was right. Since he turned pro in 2013, Madden not only supports himself full-time making Etch A Sketch art, he’s also made appearances on Good Morning America, Fox & Friends and Today, where he did a live portrait of actress Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).
The 35-year-old says he feels comfortable with both scenic art (his proudest work is of Times Square) and portraiture, though the time investment can vary dramatically. “When people book me for parties, I’m to the point where I can crank out a portrait of someone in maybe five or six minutes, though the Times Square project took me about 50 hours to complete.”
But Madden has another passion: hoops. He’s been avid about the sport since childhood, so he was predictably over the moon when Westchester got its own pro franchise in 2014. In fact, he’s “Etch-A-Sketched” virtually every member of the Westchester Knicks’ roster, including GM Allan Houston and NY Knicks President Phil Jackson. The work was showcased at Warner Library in Tarrytown in March, when Madden was that month’s featured artist. “I was able to give my sketches to the players personally, which was a thrill for me,” says Madden, whose favorite players currently are shooting guard Jordon Crawford and small forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo. “They’re both really cool guys and great with the fans!” he adds.
Madden has no problem getting booked these days at either private parties or public events, where he goes through well over 500 Etch A Sketches a year (the Ohio Art Company must love him). He is popular not just for the quality of his art and the kitschy cachet it carries with it but also because he is affordable. A portrait on a pocket-size Etch A Sketch usually goes for about $60, while one made on the classic version generally comes in around $275. To the klutzier among us, don’t worry that you’re going to trip and ruin your original Madden: He removes the excess sand (which is actually aluminum powder) and permanently glues the knobs in place.
To learn more about Bryan Madden and his Etch A Sketch art, visit www.BryanEtch.com or view our gallery of his work below.