Yahoo Covers Cleveland’s Etch A Sketch King, George Vlosichgeorge vlosich iii
I was so excited to see that Yahoo! did a feature story about one of my favorite people in Cleveland, George Vlosich — the Etch A Sketch guy!
You’ve heard of him, right? You know, he posted the video of himself Etch A Sketch-ing LeBron James on youtube! (Which now has over 2 MILLION views, by the way!)
This is a dude I’ve known for a long time and is a good friend of my family. He was a student of my father’s at Cleveland Institute of Art, and then was hired to work with my Dad in the creative department of Wyse Advertising. He used to show us his sketches when I’d visit Wyse, but it’s so nice now to see how his phenomenal (and just plain FUN) talent is out in the public eye! Not only that, but he is also drawing positive attention to our great city and the amazing arts and culture incubator that is Cleveland, Ohio.
He’s also been featured on other nationally known shows and platforms, like Oprah! (I’m seriously jealous — I want to meet Oprah!) But he is honestly just an all around nice, down-to-earth guy who loves his family and his city. Might I add that he’s damn talented at his job too…you know, that one at Wyse!
Did I mention that he also started a GV Art + Design with his brother, a creative boutique specializing in original artwork, design — and awesome T-SHIRTS!! I’m sure you’ve seen the shirts around that say “CLEVE LAND THAT I LOVE” or “The Wait of the City”. It doesn’t stop there. They also sell posters, magnets and greeting cards with George’s Etch A Sketches on them and even original songs for download written by his father!
Once upon a time, before portable DVD players and the Nintendo DS, a 10-year-old boy was handed an Etch A Sketch to keep himself busy on a five-and-a-half-hour road trip from Cleveland to Washington, D.C.
Not satisfied with sketching geometric shapes or stick figures, he made a picture of the U.S. Capitol Building.
Long after that trip, George Vlosich III is still producing highly intricate images on the Etch A Sketch. His detailed creations keep coming with each turn of the silver knobs. The red plastic box has become a vibrant frame for the artist’s breathtaking creations. Young Vlosich stumbled upon a unique means of artistic expression that would one day land him on “Oprah” and have him sketching everyone from LeBron James to President Obama.
After realizing his Etch A Sketch talents, Vlosich entered monthly contests sponsored by the Ohio manufacturer of the toy.He usually won.
Slightly suspicious, Ohio Art sent a representative to Vlosich’s Cleveland home to see if he was really the artist making all of these creations. When the company saw that he was legit, Ohio Art started to send Vlosich an Etch A Sketch toy every month so he could work on new creations.
The company also put some of his most detailed and impressive etches on a country-wide museum tour.
The son of an artist, Vlosich recalls watching Saturday-morning cartoons with his father and recreating on the Etch A Sketch the figures he saw on TV. From there, he moved on to sports figures. He fondly remembers making a sketch of Lawrence Taylor, former football player for the New York Giants and now a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“The Giants were at (the) Browns training camp, and I got to meet Lawrence Taylor and show him the sketch,” Vlosich says. He also sketched baseball players such as Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles, and got to meet them as well.
Child at heart
Many children outgrow a toy as their interests change, but Vlosich never abandoned the Etch A Sketch.
Instead, he perfected his drawings, spending “hundreds of thousands of hours,” in his estimation, turning knobs to just the right degree to create shadow effects that heightened the lifelike qualities of his work.
These days, Vlosich is a painter, a graphic designer and an art director for Wyse Advertising, a Cleveland-based agency. He and his brother, Greg, an artist in his own right, have created a line of graphic apparel celebrating their hometown. The “Cleve Land That I Love” T-shirt has been a big seller, according to Vlosich.
“We’re very pro-Cleveland, and we want to support the community, says Vlosich, 31, who is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art.
The Etch A Sketch is still a big part of his life.
Dubbed the “Etch A Sketch King” for his detailed creations, Vlosich appeared on “Oprah” last February, showing the queen of daytime TV his own royal abilities. Currently, his work can be seen at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Etch A Sketch through August 1.
As fun as using the Etch A Sketch is for Vlosich, he doesn’t take on every project tossed his way. That’s because over the years he has developed an involved system that he follows every time he picks up the toy.
First, Vlosich shakes a new Etch A Sketch to make sure it will produce the crisp lines he needs. If an Etch A Sketch doesn’t pass the shake test, he doesn’t use it.
Rather than just start with turning the knobs to begin a new creation, Vlosich initially draws an image in his sketchbook. Only when he is comfortable that the image will reproduce well on the Etch A Sketch does Vlosich get to work.
He spends about 70-80 hours on one sketch. That’s because any time he doesn’t quite get a line right or doesn’t think an image looks like the original, he starts over. After doing the line work first, Vlosich moves on to shading, which he says is the easiest but also the most time-consuming part of a project. A single line might be traced over 20 to 30 times to give it the right thickness.
When he’s finally finished, Vlosich makes his sketch permanent by removing the aluminum powder and stylus from inside the Etch A Sketch. Once those are out, the sketch on the screen cannot be erased. Vlosich says he has shipped completed Etch A Sketches across the country and the images have always remained intact.
So many places
In January of 2009, Vlosich returned to Washington, D.C., this time to see his Etch A Sketch image of Barack Obama stand beside more traditional portraits of the newly sworn-in president.
“The Etch A Sketch has taken me so many places I never thought I’d be,” says Vlosich, who is working on a piece celebrating several cities around the country. He hopes to do some charity pieces in the near future, including one that would thank the U.S. military for its service.
The Etch A Sketch may be considered a toy, but when it gets in the hands of Vlosich, it becomes anything but child’s play.