In photos, themed Etch A Sketch toys — Hello Kitty, Shrek, Mickey Mouse — surround the Dallas resident. To some people, these two-knob contraptions are simply nostalgic, but to Watt, they are high-end, niche art.
“The Etch A Sketch community is full of all walks of life, but we come together because we draw decently on a children’s toy,” Watt says. “The [Facebook] group is an odd variety of people; some dedicate their life to the toy, and some of us do it on the side. The group has about 40 members, and I'd say the top 10 in the world are in
"I love that I can have two or three small Etch A Sketches in my purse or on my desk at work and if there is ever a lull in conversation I can pull one out and have an instant conversation piece." — Samantha Watt
When she’s not working full time in digital advertising, and part time in a funeral home, Watt can be found crafting commissioned pet portraits in Etch A Sketch form. After practicing the medium for nearly 16 years, she’s even mastered a method of disassembling the product to preserve a picture.
“I picked up the Etch A Sketch my sophomore year of high school on a road trip with my mother and aunt,” Watt says. “I never had an Etch A Sketch as a child. I got my first one in my Christmas stocking as a freshman in high school.”
Now, Watt’s Etch A Sketch collection has grown to more than 70 pieces, with another 100 ready for commission. While pets are her favorite subjects to sketch, Watt’s Instagram is also full of Dallas-centric designs, including the skyline, the Pegasus sign, The Kessler, Truck Yard and the McKinney Avenue Trolley.
But Watt’s work has reached more than just a local audience. Her designs have even been featured on mtv.com and in a commercial on the AMC network.
“AMC reached out to people who made fan art for their shows,” she says. “They compiled a bunch of the art and made a teaser for their fall lineup. The commercial first aired during the first break of the Walking Dead season opener. It was a huge deal in my world. All of my friends calling me during the show and sending me pictures of their paused TVs was amazing.”
Alongside her extensive collection of Etch A Sketch memorabilia, which includes everything from pillows and pins to iPad covers, Watt also boasts an award from the toy’s manufacturer.
“Years ago, Ohio Art, the former owner of Etch A Sketch, hosted a competition,” Watt says. “I made it to second place, and I made some friends in the Etch community along the way.”
While supplemental income and national recognition are exciting elements of her Etch A Sketch hobby, Watt says her love for the artistic medium is simple: It’s inexpensive, and you can do it anywhere.
“I love that I can have two or three small Etch A Sketches in my purse or on my desk at work, and if there is ever a lull in conversation, I can pull one out and have an instant conversation piece."