If you were born in the 1950’s or later, you almost certainly had an Etch-A-Sketch as a child. It’s where many of our first artistic endeavors began – or perhaps ended, if someone gave the red, plastic frame too hard of a shake. Most of us likely and eventually gave up, but not Bryan Madden.
Bryan is one of 10 prominent Etch-A-Sketch artists in the world. He has been sketching seriously for six years, and has spent the past three years doing it professionally at parties, corporate events, and bar mitzvahs. His sketches have given him the opportunity to meet some of his favorite celebrities, including Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, Smokey Robinson, and Iggy Pop.
“It gives me a direct link to people I’m fans of because I’m one of the only ones who does this,” said Bryan.
Marrying two of his favorite pastimes, Bryan began sketching a variety of Westchester Knicks-related Etches including the team logo, a variety of players, and even the Westchester Knicks Dancers.
His favorite? “I think the Jimmer (Fredette) one was the best one that I did, and the Travis (Trice II) one too.”
In the Westchester Knicks’ inaugural season, Bryan came to five games. He became a season subscriber in year two, and has since added on an additional season seat. “I’ve always been a Knicks fan,” Bryan explained. “This is the Junior Knicks in the mini-Garden. It’s exciting to see the guys develop and to have a younger team to root for.”
While Bryan’s Etch-A-Sketch talent is certainly memorable, most fans recognize him as something else: Father Knickerbocker.
It all started as a joke between Bryan and a friend. “I made a comment about how the Westchester Knicks Dancers could get called up and get to perform at the Garden. My friend said to me, ‘Maybe if you dress up as Father Knickerbocker, maybe you can get to the Garden too.'”
Bryan was in California when the Father Knickerbocker idea came to full fruition. He visited a costume store, and there it was. “It (the costume) was like, glowing, it was so perfect. I saw the price tag and almost walked out but it was just too perfect and I knew I would regret not getting it. Luckily I’ve gotten good use out of it.”
The Westchester Knicks were actually in California at the same time as Bryan, playing the L.A. D-Fenders. “The D-Fenders were playing in Ontario (California) – here I was trekking to the desert in my bright blue knickerbockers. Everyone thought I was George Washington; they were all taking pictures with me.”
Father Knickerbocker is never alone, and more often than not he can be spotted with a sidekick who Bryan refers to as ‘The Town Crier.’ “His real name is J, just the letter. It’s an event for us, it’s a fun thing.”
The friends used to have what Bryan calls a ‘Costume Comedy’ website featuring a character called Robot Frank, who also made appearances on a local public TV show. Many of Bryan’s friends from those days get in on the costume fun. “We rolled DEEP for one game.”
Bryan is certainly in the running as one of Westchester’s most dedicated fans. Towards the end of the interview, Bryan pulled out a giant bag full of Westchester Knicks memorabilia. “I save all the stuff,” he said. “They gave this (the inaugural season lapel pin) out the first night and I lost it – I was so mad. Because of that, I held on to literally everything else.”
He wasn’t kidding. From giveaways, to programs, to roster cards, Bryan has held on to almost everything a fan can receive at Westchester Knicks game. And for the record, he was able to get a replacement pin.
Favorite Player: “I have to name two. Thanasis has great energy and enthusiasm and his dunks light up the County Center. He’s also great at interacting with fans – he’s the smiling face of the franchise. The other one is Jordon Crawford. He’s an easy player to root for!”
Favorite Promotion: “The Buffalo Wild Wings half court shot, for sure. I want to do it next season in costume.”
Favorite Moment: “I think it was the first or second game of the season; the lead was changing back and further in the last minute and we won in the final possession. It’s the exact kind of scenario you hope for in basketball!”
To see more of Bryan’s work, visit http://www.bryanetch.com.