Jane Labowitch is defining her style and future one great Etch-a-Sketch artwork at a time. A 2013 Illustration graduate, Jane was recently invited to show her work at a major show in Paris. Read about her journey, ambitions and great advice for aspiring artists.
What were you recently doing in Paris?
I was invited to show my Etch-a-Sketch art at Who’s Next, a fashion trade show in Paris. The Event Coordinator Elsa Antigny invited me in October 2013 because the show’s theme was toys. I was in Paris January 23-30, selling my work and exploring the city.
Who’s Next is a prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) fashion trade show that takes place twice a year at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center.
How did the trip help you?
I met so many people in Paris! While at Who’s Next, I exchanged a lot of business cards, made a new contact at Disney, and connected with people from various European fashion blogs.
I also forged a stronger connection with Ohio Art, which makes the Etch-a-Sketch in the U.S. The company generously gave me 24 classic (large) Etch-a-Sketch units to take to Paris and was very supportive.
This trip taught me that sometimes you have to take risks, because often opportunity only knocks once. I also learned that if you ask for help, people often come through.
Tell us about how you used crowdfunding to support your trip?
I started an indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for my stay in Paris. I met my $1,000 goal within a week to pay for accommodations! The generosity of everyone who contributed absolutely floored me.
When did you create your first Etch-a-Sketch piece?
I started playing with an Etch-a-Sketch when I was about four years old. I’ve been playing with it ever since!
How many Etch-a-Sketch artworks have you created to date?
I have roughly 30 preserved works with me in Chicago. I learned four years ago how preserve the work by removing the aluminum powder inside the unit. I have created at least 300 images.
What three ways did the Academy offered the greatest value to you?
When I was looking for colleges, the Academy appealed to me because of its strong technical approach to training students. During my four years there, my technique developed vastly. Though I didn’t do Etch-a-Sketch art for assignments, my skills on the toy also improved along with my drawing skills.
There is an amazing faculty at the Academy! I feel so fortunate to have learned from them. They put their hearts into teaching; and I always felt like they genuinely cared about my progress.
The student body at the Academy was also like a big family. There was never harsh competition, but I always felt pushed, encouraged and motivated by them to give my absolute best. Going to a smaller school was the perfect fit for me because I got to know my classmates really well, and the teachers were able to give individual attention to everyone.
What advice would you offer to someone entering art school?
Work hard!!! There’s no shortcut to becoming a better artist. Go above and beyond what is expected of you. Take your classes seriously. At the end of the day, your experience in art school is going to be what you put into it.
Make friends! Get out of your comfort zone! I was terrified of working digitally; but once I got over that initial hurdle, I fell in love with the medium. Try new techniques. Go to museums. Go to gallery openings and introduce yourself to strangers. The more you get out and see the world, the more opportunities you will have.
Which artists inspire you most? Why?
As an Etch-a-Sketch artist, my friend and fellow etcher Bryan Lee Madden is a great inspiration to me. He takes the Etch-a-Sketch and tries things that have never been done before. That is very exciting to me.
Van Gogh has always been my favorite painter. His work is so expressive and beautiful.
Keith Haring is a big influence on my illustrative work. I can’t get enough of his graphic designs and clean lines. Ben Tolman is perhaps my favorite artist that works in black and white. He creates these giant and mind-numbingly intricate illustrations that leave me awestruck. M.C. Escher’s work is so clean and methodical. The mathematician in me fell in love with his tessellations.
What do you envision doing in three years?
I would like to be a full-time Etch-a-Sketch artist. I really enjoy and want to do more traveling to events and parties throughout the U.S. to etch people’s portraits. I also imagine I’ll be picking up more commissions and selling my own original designs. I see myself picking up more freelance illustration and design-related work. I’ve been working part time as a photo retoucher and designer since August 2013 and really enjoy it. I see myself staying in Chicago during the next three years, as I love this city so much.
You can learn more about Jane here: