The stories about Prince William and Kate Middleton, the stories about their courtship and their engagement and the rest of their lives together as royalty, have been beamed again and again around the world.
So have the stories about George Vlosich III.
Prince William and Middleton will marry Friday, the first royal wedding of worldwide significance in decades. Viewing parties are planned in Lakewood, across Cleveland and all over the globe. Millions, perhaps even billions, of people will wake up earlier than normal, skip work, speak for hours in bad British accents.
Vlosich might watch, but even if he doesn’t, his contribution to the day already will have been more than that of most folks. About 100 hours more.
Vlosich is an Etch-A-Sketch artist and some regard him as the world's best. He started his art when he was 10 years old, fiddling on his mother’s old Etch-A-Sketch in the back seat of the family car during a road trip to Washington, D.C. He drew the U.S. Capitol building. The accuracy of the aluminum powder inside that familiar red plastic frame amazed his parents back then. During the last 22 years, it has amazed plenty of other folks.
Now 32, Vlosich lives in Lakewood with his wife and three children. He works in advertising, but carries two fulltime jobs. He works at the first, in advertising, during the day. As half of GV Art + Design, he works the other just about every night, at home, after the rest of his family has gone to sleep, his tall frame curled around the Etch-A-Sketch, his fingers whirling on the knobs to produce incredible portraits from a classic toy.
Vlosich has long focused on sports — he has etched major figures from Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan to Magic Johnson and, yes, LeBron James — but he has also created memorable portraits of musicians and politicians. Only recently has his work crossed over into pop culture. And what better pop culture event to memorialize, he figured, than the royal wedding?
“This is definitely pop culture,” said Vlosich, who worked about 100 hours on the portrait of Prince William and Middleton, “and it’s an event that’s worldwide that doesn’t happen too often. I’ve been getting such a good response from people over in the U.K., their interest in my work, and I had been, for some time, wanting to do things that went beyond our country and a national scale, stuff that would appeal to everyone.”
British newspapers and broadcast outlets started to reach out to Vlosich during the last year, and he has already started to expand his scope to global proportions. He etched The Beatles years ago, but plans to soon produce a second portrait of the Fab Four. His work has evolved and improved so much since that last effort, after all, that the difference between the two efforts might be like that between “Meet The Beatles” and “Sgt. Pepper’s.” Same artist, very different art.
Until then, Vlosich will continue to work on a number of other projects. He receives requests from around the world for commissioned pieces — in large thanks to Oprah, who invited him as a guest on her show last year — and is working with several Cleveland companies to produce larger pieces of art in multiple mediums.
“I’ve come to appreciate my work more," he said. "The new stuff, I’m getting real excited about. Before, it was good, but I always concentrated on the mistakes. It took me a while to appreciate it. Now I’m pushing it so much more.”
The stories about Vlosich will continue to be beamed — around Cleveland, around the country, around the world — but probably not much this weekend.
There is, of course, a slightly bigger story.