Toy and game company PlayMonster has announced the launch of the Spirograph National Art Contest where people of all ages residing across the US can enter their Spirograph designs for a chance to be featured at an exhibit at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York! The competition is open through to March 31, 2022.
Using the simple magic of pens, gears and paper, artists four and older are encouraged to create a unique design with any Spirograph® product and add their own personal flair with color or added materials. All participants, ages four and up, can enter this contest by visiting playmonster.com/contest/. Six winning designs will be chosen by a panel of judges to be displayed at The Strong National Museum of Play on World Art Day (April 15, 2022). Winners will also take home an exclusive Spirograph® Retrospective Prize Pack and $400 Michael’s Gift Card to keep creating.
PlayMonster’s Activities Director Wendy Hartling recently discussed this contest via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your passion for games (toys) and how did you break into the toy industry?
Wendy Hartling (WH): My journey into the industry was a bit unexpected. My father worked in the industry his entire career and I really didn’t expect to follow in his footsteps. I was working as a creator of preschool curriculum when I was approached by an educational products company. I took a leap and started working in product development. I fell in love with the ability to be creative and constantly challenged. I’ve since held positions in brand management and product development where I’ve learned to think beyond just the product and its features, but also the consumer and retail needs and expectations.
MM: How did you get involved with PlayMonster and what are some of the most memorable activities you’ve created?
WH: I came across an open position via LinkedIn during the pandemic and reconnected with a previous coworker working at PlayMonster. During the interview process, I realized what a great group of people worked at the company. They were willing to take a risk and allow me to be their first 100% remote employee. Today, PlayMonster has employees working remotely from coast to coast. For me, the products that are most memorable are not necessarily the most successful, but rather the ones that really evolved based on collaboration with the marketing and product development teams. Recently I worked on the Spirograph Animator and the opportunity to bring such a tried-and-true play pattern to a new level with lights and motion, creating animation, was really amazing. It became one of PlayMonsters’ most award-winning items.
MM: What gave you the idea to spark the Spirograph contest?
WH: We knew from research and consumer comments that the Spirograph brand sparks great memories for parents and grandparents. The product still inspires and wows kids today with the amazing spiral designs you can create super successfully. I wanted to give Spirograph fans an opportunity to showcase their creativity and have a rare chance to be featured at a National Museum like the Strong National Museum of Play.
MM: When you were a kid, did you play with any Spirograph products?
WH: Yes, I remember having a set and sitting at the table and designing with my sisters. Today’s sets are easier to use because they include putty or rubber feet to hold the wheel instead of pins and the gears now work with almost any marker, pen or pencil.
MM: How do you plan to select the winners and are you involved with the curation at the museum?
WH: The winners will be chosen by a panel of judges. I’m not planning to be one of them and I expect it won’t be an easy decision with lots of really creative submissions. We worked as a team to design the layout of the exhibit that will be running at the Strong National Museum of Play during Break Week (April 15-24). We want it to be a retrospective of the decades that Spirograph has been a success in the toy market and also an interactive opportunity for kids and families to participate in creating spiral designs that will then be on display in the exhibit.
MM: What are your favorite things about working in the toy industry?
WH: I’ve been in the industry for many many years and what I love most is that it is ever evolving. Every year offers new opportunities and challenges. You have to work to navigate the changes in consumer expectations and watch how technology is influencing kids and the toys they want to play with. Each product has a unique journey to market, so it keeps me on my toes.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
WH: We welcome everyone to submit to the Spirograph National Art Contest and to come check-out our exhibit at The Strong National Museum of Play during Break Week. Visit PlayMonster.com/contest/ or instagram.com/playmonstercraftandactivities/ to learn more!