Home & Leisure

Billboards seek to reunite decades-old kids' drawings with their now-grown creators

Alissa Gary, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Parenting News

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The two Sanford, Florida, students used crayons to draw self portraits, then turned their artwork over to Crayola, the famous art-supply company, which 20 years ago was collecting kids’ drawings to display in galleries across the country.

“I hope one day to be in an art gallery or in a famous museum,” wrote Emily, then a fourth grader at Bentley Elementary School, in her artwork’s caption.

“I wanted to show how much fun my family is,” wrote Tommy, a Bentley second grader, in his description.

Today, both drawings are displayed on 14 billboards in the Orlando area in an attempt to reunite them with their creators, whose last names are unknown.

The billboards are part of Crayola’s Campaign for Creativity, which launched in April and wants to reconnect more than 1,000 adults with the artwork they made as children. The company collected art for about 30 years through the “Dream Makers” program, which ended in 2013.

The Crayola website features about 50 of those ready-to-claim pieces and some success stories.

A man named William, now a lawyer and a father of two, for example, claimed a drawing he made as a fourth-grader in Orlando, according to the Crayola website.

The goal is to remind adults to nurture the creativity they held as kids, said Crayola marketing executive Vicky Lozano.

“It is really about telling these amazing personal, individual stories around the importance and impact of childhood creativity,” she said.


The display billboards are located near the schools whose students supplied the art, Lozano said, in the hopes that friends, relatives or the artists themselves recognize their pieces.

The two Sanford students whose art is being displayed both made their pieces in the early 2000s at Bentley Elementary, which opened in 2001.

In Emily’s drawing, a blond girl stands on the right of the frame looking toward a gallery of famous paintings. Tommy drew himself standing with portraits of his family hanging on the wall behind him.

Former Bentley principal Ron Nathan remembered the Crayola campaign — his daughter participated in it — but no details on the former students. The art teacher at the time could not be reached.

Crayola displayed the “Dream Makers” art in museums and galleries, including at the U.S. Department of Education. Eventually, the children’s drawings landed at the Crayola headquarters in Pennsylvania, where they’ve remained since.

If an artist claims one of the pieces — and passes Crayola’s verification process to ensure they’re a match — the company arranges to ship the art to its owner.

About a dozen pieces have already been claimed, and all the one-time artists seemed happy to reconnect with a drawing they thought they’d never see again, Lozano said.

“It’s definitely been very, very, very emotional in a good way.”

©2024 Orlando Sentinel. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. ©2024 Orlando Sentinel. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



blog comments powered by Disqus