His interest in art was obvious. Nearly every day, six-year-old Elliot Beagle would disappear into his room and draw something. He wouldn’t ask for a coloring book.

“He just wants to draw,” said Claire Beagle, Elliot’s mother. “He just asks for a blank white piece of paper.”

And Elliot doesn’t just scribble, making some mishmash mess. He draws figures, paintings of little comic figures, and animals. There’s a brightly colored painting of the family’s cat – Green Evee – on their living room wall.

“He really has talent,” Claire said. “He’s very artistic.”

So, one day last year when Claire heard a shoe company called PLAE was going to have an art contest for kids, she thought her son should enter. The contest involved drawing figures to go onto their shoes. Elliot, who is now seven and is a second grader at Hansen Elementary School in Olympia, drew a picture of a space creature with bunny ears.

Elliott with his mom
Elliot wearing a shirt with the figure he drew for PLAE shoes. Photo credit: Gail Wood

“It was cute,” Claire said.

And it was a winner. To Claire’s delight, and to her surprise, her son was one of about 20 other children internationally who won. His figure is on the side of PLAE’s children’s shoes that are sold across the country and were released in April 2019. Elliot is living his dream. He’s an artist. With talent.

“He is our artist,” Claire said.

As their reward, Elliot got some shoes and a shirt with his drawing on it. As for the mega millions he got, that – his mother said with a giggle – is in her bank account. She was kidding, of course. The reward is Elliot’s artwork being chosen. There was no financial reward.

“It’s fun,” Claire said. “We love those shoes. They last so well. And you can wash them.”

Besides selling shoes, PLAE is also a promoter of children being involved, of getting out, and playing. On their website, they talk about their goal “to erase that line and harness the power of play for everyone.” They talk about how we come into the world knowing how to eat, breathe, sleep, and…play. They want to make sure we don’t lose that talent, or that desire to simply have fun playing. That’s the motivation behind their drawing contest – to get children playing with artwork and having fun.

Elliot had fun, for sure. And, his mom said, art has already become a lifelong goal. He’s always asking his mom to make copies of his drawings.

“He wants us to copy it because he wants to produce books,” Claire said with a smile.

Elliott with Plae Shoes
Elliot Beagle stands with his brothers while holding the PLAE shoes. Photo credit: Gail Wood

That’s so he can sell comic books. He wants to make comics for newspapers and for TV.

“I like to draw,” Elliot said.

And he’s got other ambitions.

“He says he wants to be an architect, an artist, and a Ninja when he grows up,” Claire said with a smile. “His goal is to design and build his own house with a room to display all of his artwork.”

When Claire had her son draw his picture for PLAE, she didn’t tell him he was drawing for a contest. He was just having fun, as he always does drawing. Last year, for an hour on Wednesday afternoons after school at Hansen Elementary, Elliot got to go to an art class. He was in heaven.

“He loved it,” said Claire, who moved with her family to Olympia from Vancouver, Washington, four years ago. “They have different artist come in and teach it. They do different media every single class.”

Elliot’s artistic talent is genetic. His mother was a graphic designer. Now, as a mother of three, she’s become another kind of designer. She’s a life designer.

“Exactly,” she said with a smile.

Elliot has the artistic genes. And his older brother, Henry, who is nine years old, has another gene.

“Elliot has the artistic skills, which is good for him,” Claire said. “Henry is our intellectual one.”

Elliot Beagle kneels behind a wooden flower basket he made. Photo credit: Gail Wood

And their youngest child, who is four-years-old, is still growing, figuring out what’s next.

Last summer to raise money for Elliot’s art supplies, he made some wooden planter boxes that they sold. With his dad, Andrew, keeping careful watch, Elliot cut the wood and screwed the pieces together. He just started doing that again and there are several wooden planter boxes on their patio in their backyard.

“Dad doesn’t touch the tools,” Claire said, then added with a smile. “He just makes sure Elliot’s not going to cut his hand off.”

Elliot has the creativity, the talent, the commitment, and the patience to do artwork. And that might lead to more art projects.

“Art is your thing,” Claire said to her son. “Maybe in a few years, you can do stuff for Arts Walk. Wouldn’t that be cool.”

And another dream and goal has been planted.

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