Daneeca Medina did not see what the problem was.
Until his friends stood around the kitchen table in this stunned manner. Until classmates start hovering over his shoulders. Until strangers noticed what she was doing and asked her, “How do you do that?” “
Medina thought anyone could doodle on an Etch A Sketch like her. Until everyone told her she had a rare talent.
The 27-year-old Denver resident didn’t grow up with an Etch A Sketch, this iconic drawing toy known for its red frame and for providing hours of fun on top of frustration.
Medina tried the toy for the first time in college.
To chill out one night, she started doodling trees and a house, “real Bob Ross type stuff,” she said. She scribbled for hours on what looked like “an endless canvas.” She left her creation on the table and set to work.
Her roommates were shocked at the awe-inspiring sight. Medina continued to impress them.
“Something in my brain just clicked,” she said. “And I got really good at it.”
It was six years ago. Now she’s even better.
She transforms the blank canvas and aluminum pieces into intricate flowers and pug dogs and the view from where she sits. She drew musician Mac Miller playing the piano and Bernie Sanders wearing mittens and the characters from the Peanuts comics. She’s designed a lot of logos, like the Denver Broncos logo.
Sometimes she undertakes to reproduce a photo, such as when it is provided by a client. Other times she doesn’t know what the outcome will be.
“I don’t really think about it when I draw,” she said. “I just sort of do it.”
Medina has made Etch A Sketch a large part of her life. She draws every day and goes everywhere with at least one Etch A Sketch, which is doable because she has over 30 of them in different sizes. Since its invention in 1960, the Etch A Sketch brand has remained pretty much the same. But they have added pocket versions and themed versions. There are Etch A Sketch watches and wallets. Medina has both.
She shares her designs on social media, where she is known as “Etch A Sketch Queen”. In real life, Medina turns heads when she starts spinning those white buttons.
“I’m just starting to draw and people are drawn to it,” Medina said. “I think it’s because they can’t do it.”
Few can, at least at his level. Medina says she knows about 150 Etch A Sketch artists across the country, according to a Facebook group she is a part of. She dreams of working full time like the other artists she admires. For now, she keeps her day job at a screen printing shop in Denver.
His Etch A Sketch skills give him regular commissions and could get him a sponsorship with a company like Spin Master, which owns the toy. The Etch A Sketch also gives her a gift that she cannot put a dollar amount on.
Medina grew up in Morrison in a family she says didn’t have money for a lot of things, like toys. At 17, she joined the army.
During his six years of service, the anxiety attacks began. Back home in Colorado, she was showing symptoms of PTSD.
With an Etch A Sketch in his hands, the anxiety vanishes. She doesn’t look at her phone; she escapes into a world without black and white Wi-Fi. There’s a reason the toy’s motto is “Unplug from the Classics”.
L’Etch A Sketch calms her down. This teaches her, she says, to “let go”.
Like when she works on a drawing for hours and then shakes it.
“It’s a constant reminder that nothing in life is permanent,” Medina said. “Everything is fragile and delicate.
And that’s a reminder of second chances. When a beautiful doodle is erased, it makes room for another blank canvas.
“People don’t realize it,” she said. “But Etch A Sketch has a lot of life lessons.”