Unique art is easy to find in New York City, but Bryan Lee Madden’s pieces stand out in the crowded field. Madden uses Etch A Sketches to create his works, which run from fine art to cartoonish sketches, and are commissioned for friends and clients alike (email him if interested!). We got in touch after Madden posted a picture of his intricate New York City portrait on Reddit. The hardest part, apparently? Making sure you don’t shake.
How long have you been doing this?
I started etching about five years ago, while living all the way upstate, going to college in Plattsburgh. I purchased a toy pen with a micro-sized Etch A Sketch affixed to the top. I sketched a few small things and had surprisingly good results, which inspired me to get a full-sized Etch A Sketch and see what I could do with it. NYC Etch is my first full-sized work, depicting the Harlem river cutting through the Bronx and upper Manhattan. I kept it level for years, showing it to friends and party guests in college, and it still remains level, so as to not be erased.
Where do you sell your art?
I sell my art in Union Square on occasion and plan do to portrait work there in the spring and summer. I also do commissioned work on pocket, travel, or full-sized Etch A Sketches. I’m up to any challenge.
How long have you lived in New York?
I was born in Tarrytown, grew up a little north of there, and moved to Spanish Harlem after I graduated. I started doing stand-up comedy work and ran a costumed comedy website about robots, which got a bit of media attention. I’ve since moved back to Westchester, about a 45-minute commute on the MTA.
How would you say New York inspires your art?
My blog is Bryan Etch City Art. The landscape and landmarks of New York have been my preferred subject in my work; I’ve done pocket etches of the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and Central Park, in addition to my full-sized Bronx/Upper Manhattan landscape. I’ve also done etches of other cities, like Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
What’s the hardest part about making art on an Etch A Sketch?
There is a bit of pressure to not mess up. One major mistake and all of the hours are mostly for nothing.
Which piece is your favorite so far?
My favorite sketches I’ve done are my Brooklyn Bridge pocket etch, and my full-sized Philadelphia cityscape. I’m also fond of some of my Facebook profile pocket etches. I recently etched Famous Ray’s pizza counter, full sized. I can’t imagine running out of subject matter.