box caret-down caret-left caret-right caret-up cart check-o check chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up de document Dot dropbox en es external-link facebook FlagCreated with Sketch. fr google-plus image instagram linkedin pinterest rss search twitter user youtube

Interview with Ethan Wadsworth, 16-year-old PowerClix® Explorer Series Artist for Guidecraft

Ethan Portrait (1)

Ethan Wadsworth

GC: Your artwork is so amazing and intricately detailed. When did you get seriously interested in drawing?

Ethan: I became really interested in drawing in first grade and by second grade I was drawing every single day.

GC: How do you describe your style?

Ethan: I’d say my style is very cute and friendly and it seems like something you would see and want to touch and pick up if you could. I’d also say it’s very modern, in the sense that, it’s kind of stylistically similar to a lot of things that are popular right now. It’s kind of Japanese influenced. You can put a face on anything and it can turn into a character.

My style has been evolving and changing over the years. Lately I do many characters whose proportions are similar to a real person but for this Explorer Series project, I decided to go back to characters that I used to draw so much a few years ago. They seemed appropriate for the toys. Again, they are very cute, friendly and inviting.

GC: What is a typical day for a 16-year-old professional artist?

Ethan: Well, I go to high school Monday through Friday but I basically draw all day in school on worksheets. I even doodle all over my tests! Some teachers like it and some don’t, I’d say. Then, I get home and draw a lot too. I’d say I draw 1-2 hours after school each day. I also do some Still Lifes now which is kind of a new thing for me.

GC: Any other interests?

Ethan: I am getting very interested in animation… making the pictures and characters move and watching them in action.

GC: How did you get involved with Guidecraft and PowerClix toys.

Ethan:  My mother and Heidi Bilezikian are both painters, and good friends from art school, and Heidi (who is married to Gary Bilezikian, the President of Guidecraft) loved my work so much she recommended that Gary take a close look at it and see if it would work for a project with Guidecraft. Then a year ago, Gary asked his son, Dan, and I to come in and do some builds with the PowerClix magnetic toys over winter break. That day, I brought some drawings and characters that I drew and showed them to Gary, his family, and everyone at the office and they really loved them. A few months later, I got a call from Gary and he said, we need someone to design some characters and they couldn’t find anyone whose work they thought fit. He said, “If you send your portfolio with some character designs and it works out, that you could have a job working on the new PowerClix project.”  It turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime. In the end, it will be a whole series of PowerClix toys (Explorer Series) with different adventurous themes. The first set’s theme is Space and the main character is an alien exploring planets with his jellyfish-like friend.  I am working on the next set which will be about Architecture and have been studying and drawing styles from around the world for the backdrop.

GC: What’s your favorite thing about the project?

Ethan: It’s just amazing that my characters are being used with and turned into an actual toy. There will even be a figure that I made included with each PowerClix Explorer set.

PowerClix Explorer Series - Space Set

PowerClix® Explorer Series – Space Set

GC: What was the process to get the toy done and how long did it take?

Ethan: First I showed some different characters I have done, then we picked a few themes (loosely based on them) that would fit with the PowerClix builds. Then after that, I developed a comic, backdrop and character for each theme so each set is different. I bring ideas to Guidecraft and we work out the details and make changes together. Then they take it from there, creating new magnetic sets (and colors) from all the PowerClix building toy shapes they have. The booklet that goes with the toy has a cartoon, backdrop and pictures of the real toy builds interacting with my characters and drawings.

GC: Who are some artists that you admire?

Ethan: Well, there are so many… David Hovarth, who designed the Ugly Doll series.

Aaron Meshon and his Let’s Hang zipper pulls, Hayao Miyazaki, the creator of the Studio Ghibli movies, and Hokasai, the classic Japanese artist who did 100 views of Mt. Fuji.

GC: Do you plan to go to college?

Ethan: Yes, some schools I am interested in attending are Pratt, RISD, SVA and Cal Arts. I would like to study Animation.

 

More on the PowerClix® Explorer Series – Space Set here!

 

 

 

 

Read More


Guidecraft Celebrates 50 Years of Making Toy Systems for Change

50 years ago a young man named Fred Fein started a business making small, wooden figures in a one room shop in Garnerville, New York. Mr. Fein describes his first wood shop this way. “There was one area where I worked with machinery and another area for silkscreen painting and an area for final packaging. I did the quality control myself as well!” He called his new company Guidecraft®.

The first toys Mr. Fein made were the aptly named, Wedgies™, for their wide bases and narrow tops, and were designed to be used with unit blocks to encourage a child’s social and emotional development.

Those first figures mirrored the conservative 1960’s iconic styling of the time, but also belied a progressive cultural message that Mr. Fein quietly conveyed in each Wedgie™. Women were more than mothers – they had careers. Professionals came from a variety of cultures and with different skin tones.
Today, we look with nostalgia on these figures, but 50 years ago, they represented pioneering concepts in education and society. Interestingly, thousands of Wedgies™ resembling those original figures are still made and sold every year through school supply distribution companies, some of which have been Guidecraft® customers since the 1960s.

Classic Wedgies Line Up

Today, Guidecraft® is a global company with operations in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Throughout the years of growth, the company has always maintained its high standards to provide thoughtful, smart and creative additions to the consumer and educational children’s toy and furniture market. Guidecraft’s rich portfolio now includes unique premier toys, manipulatives, construction and block play toys, arts and storage furniture, household helpers and furniture systems.

Of note, all of Guidecraft’s premier building toys inherently compliment the ever-increasing focus on STEM skill development. Whether it is the 2016 introduction of a STEM toy specifically designed for toddlers, such as Better Builders® Grippies®, or overlaying a 16-year-old artist’s creations onto the already inspiring magnetic building system, PowerClix®, or extending the TOTY Finalist IO Blocks® system to include vehicle parts as well as a mini version of the toy, Guidecraft® is committed to creating toys that are fun, yet powerful learning tools with multi-disciplinary benefits.

Guidecraft® is proud to be built upon the foundation of the forward-thinking Wedgie™, and thrilled to be able continue in Mr. Fein’s tradition.

Read More