All photos via Danielle de Jesus
For most of us an Etch-A-Sketch was a toy, something we had fun playing with and doodling on during long car rides with our parents or in our room at night. For artist and skateboarder, Danielle De Jesus, it is so much more. It's a canvas for her incredible art work. But it's not permanent, so you can't become too attached to what you draw, because in a split second it could all be gone.
I met Danielle when she posted an insanely cool pic on instgaram and facebook of an etch-a-sketch art piece she did of me skating back in the day - one look at her instgaram feed and I was hooked and I knew I needed to find out what motivates her to do this type of art!
I hope you enjoy her interview.
Who's Rad? Danielle De Jesus
Where do you live/work? I live in Brooklyn and I work for a production studio as an assistant photographer.
This type of art that you do is so difficult, interesting, and I am sure time consuming, that I have a lot of questions for you! I was super impressed with the picture you did of me skating the1/2 pipe with headphones on back in the day, you have obviously been perfecting your technique for quite a while and love what you do - so lets find out more!
What types of art do you do?
Hmm I love painting, drawing, making art in general is my passion, but my mediums of choice are cameras and of course the ETCH-A SKETCH!
How long have you been doing Etch-A Sketch Art?
I started almost 4 years ago while I was working as a toy demonstrator at FAO Schwarz in NYC
What gave you the idea to do this type of art work?
Well I’m kind of obsessed with the color pink so while working at the toy store I found a pink etch a sketch and bought it for the novelty of it. I had never had one before, even in my childhood, but I loved the color so I got it lol
How did you learn to do the drawings in such detail?
I remember playing with Etch-a-Sketch as a kid and it was hard! I have always drawn my whole life so that part was there, but it took a lot of trial and error in order to perfect the shading part. Keep in mind that it is one continuous line so shading and creating depth can be tedious
Where do you find your inspiration for a new piece?
I always etch something that means something to me. Something that makes me happy, a person that inspires me, or someone or something I care about.
I know you skateboard and some of your pieces involve skaters - are skateboarders your favorite subject?
Yes!! I love skateboarding so much so why not combine my two loves!
What do you find the most exciting about doing this type of art?
The smiles and shock on people’s faces! It feels nice to make people happy, and especially through my art
What do you find to be the most frustrating thing about it?
Hmmm I guess when people say “you must have too much time on your hands”...I get that a lot!
How long does it take you to do an average etch-a-sketch piece?
On average it takes me anywhere from 5-6 hours...Of NON STOP knob turning! I don’t stop to eat, drink, no bathroom breaks, nothing! Just go until it’s done! It’s extreme meditation to me
What do you do with them after you are done?
I enjoy them for a while, take a good picture and eventually shake them and start again!
Have you ever been super attached to a piece only to lose it (via the sand/erasing motion)?
Well I wouldn’t say attached, but I did one of a friend and brought it to a show at Skate Brooklyn skateshop and the music was so loud it fell off the shelf and completely erased...or at least that’s what I hope happened! Lol! I just found it blank! Bummer!
Tell us a bit about the random pieces of art that you do in stores and then just leave them there. I think this is street art at it's finest! Haha!! Oh man, that’s just for fun! I’ve done a few at Targets and Kmart, but the best was when I did one at FAO Schwarz with the words I <3 NYC
and the skyline and as I walked away from it a lady taps me and says “excuse me, can I buy this?” and I was like “sure.” Haha!
Do you sell any of your pieces?
Currently I have not, they’re hard to preserve, and right now it’s just a hobby that I love
Can someone commission you to do one for them?
I’ve had a lot of people ask “can you do one of my dog, kids, parents etc, but I usually don’t do them, as mean as that sounds. Only because right now it’s just fun for me, I like to do things that I’m passionate about, but maybe one day...
Do you have a sponsorship deal with Etch-a-Sketch?
No, but that would be SWEET!
Any plans for a show in the near future?
I’ve actually been in two shows, but I would definitely like to do more!
What would you like people to know about you and your amazing art?
I love life!
What's your fav place to skate?
I have to say Riverside skatepark. It’s the first skatepark built by Andy Kessler in NYC and the first place to give me a taste of transition, last summer. Before then, I just pushed long distance on a longboard.
Any thoughts to add as a fellow skateboarder?
Do it because you love it
Where can people follow your work?
Anything else I may have forgotten that you'd like people to know?
I’d like people to know about one of my most special pieces. It’s a piece I did of a girl names Alexandria Rice. Alix was killed by a drunk driver while riding her longboard and her story touched my heart in unimaginable ways. I never got the pleasure to meet her, but the friendship I gained with her family has blossomed into the friendship I would have had if we met. They are working tirelessly in an effort to build a skatepark in her memory. Please check out AlixRice.com to learn how to help and learn more about this amazing girl.
Thank you so much Danielle for sharing your art with us and for telling us about Alix Rice & the skatepark being built in her memory - we are jumping over now to donate and hope others will do the same. xx