Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

But Is It Art?

Flying through my Yahoo news headlines I was caught off-guard by the news of the Etch-a-Sketch inventor passing away recently.  I hadn’t thought that the ubiquitous toy had an actual creator–I thought it had always been there, like marbles, yo-yos, and bouncy balls.  Yet, the famous graphic sketch toy did indeed have an inventor,  André Cassagnes,  and it went into mass production by the Ohio Art Company.

The classic red-and-white Etch A Sketch model

The classic red-and-white Etch A Sketch model (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a baby boomer I have a fondness for the Etch-a-Sketch.  A kid could create anything with it and then shake to start all over again.  Think of all the paper art teachers could save by handing out these fabulous little art producers.

However, is it truly art?  Or are the renderings created in the category of velvet Elvis paintings making it only subjective and in the eye of the beholder?

Check out this blogger’s post about the Etch-A-Sketch. What do you think? Is it art?

A bit of a skeptic, I went searching on the Internet and I found at least one artist who convinced me the graphic erase renderings are art.

The Etch-A-Sketch® Art of Jeff Gagliardi

For him it began with the Taj Mahal on his nephew’s Etch-A-Sketch.  Check out his creations here.

How would one frame it?  I can see the scenario.


DSC_0028 (Photo credit: Ryan D Riley)

“Hey can I look at your Mona Lisa Etch-A-Sketch?”

“Uh, sure.  Just don’t touch…”

“OOps…[awkward silence]

“Aw man, I asked you not to touch it.”

For those not as deeply affected by the passing of this toy icon inventor. Here are some basics W.S.I.C.s [why should I care]:

  • The Etch-A-Sketch came out in the ’60s and became one of the most popular toys of that era.
  • In 1998 it found its place into the National Toy Hall of Fame.
  • The Toy Industry Association named the Etch-A-Sketch to its Century of Toys List.

In case you are wondering how it works, check out this video.

In terms of the application for writing, there is the definite possibility of its benefit.  There have been many a manuscripts of mine that could have benefited from a quick shake to get things started all over again.

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5 thoughts on “But Is It Art?

  1. I think it’s art. If Tracey Emin’s installation piece ‘My Bed’ can be classed as art, then surely etch-a-sketch creations can be too!

  2. All I can do is create stairs when attempting Etch-A-Sketch, so Elvis or the Taj Mahal is way out of my league!

  3. I never got the Etch-A-Sketch, I wanted to do circles, that wa my thing as a kid. I usually ended up doing a circuit board though.

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