Today we are so excited to welcome Marty Bruckner, a.k.a. the artist Spaghetti Toes, who has been delighting the internet with his laugh-out-loud, clever, and thoughtful art. Walt Disney said it all started with a mouse, and for Marty, it all started with his daughter, Harper. As you head into the weekend, all of us at Workman HQ hope you enjoy hearing from him about fatherhood and the importance of listening to all that’s around you. (And don’t forget to check out his first book, I Love You With All My Butt, on sale April 4).
My dad was a teacher and a football coach for almost forty years. He had five daughters, and some would say he and my mom kept trying until they got their son. (For the record: he and my mom always denied this.) On the sixth try he finally got that son . . . his future football star!
Only, even though I loved and played football (not all that well, sadly), I would turn out to be an artist.
Instead of sharing stories with his buddies about how his son threw the winning touchdown, my dad would sneak pieces of my art into his briefcase to show his fellow coaches and teachers—something I would find out years later. He was so proud of everything I did, even though it involved pencil strokes and blue ribbons, instead of broken tackles and championship trophies. My dad was so accepting and proud of what I did in my life and with my talents. It has made me want to do the same for my own daughter.
My dad, who would have turned 79 this weekend, prepared me well for life as a father.
When my daughter came into our lives, my wife, Michelle, and I started an ongoing email chain of “Harper’s Firsts.” It was a little way for us to keep track of her first smile, her first steps, and her first time using the big girl potty. Once she started to talk I decided to try to draw each and every funny, sweet, gross, and hilarious thing she said in the hopes that these little pieces of artwork would become something we would all look back on one day and see as a sketched out history of her childhood.
My work as Spaghetti Toes the artist all came about because I was lucky enough to become a dad.
It’s funny, but I can’t help thinking about one of my favorite keepsakes: a book my dad passed on to me before Harper was born. It was a 1960s book about being a new dad. It had all sorts of hilarious little drawings and anecdotes about changing diapers, waking up at 3 am and being extra nice to mom in those first few months. He had originally received it from a friend when his first child was born. Looking through it, I’m always amazed by how much it reminds me of every piece of art that I do.
That’s what I have loved so much about creating and sharing art with people all over the internet, the inspiration comes from a place so close by: home. I hope it inspires grown-ups everywhere to listen closely to the young minds around them and write those silly, hysterical, and unexpected moments down.
These are moments to be treasured.
About the Book:
We just can’t get enough of the funny stuff kids say. We share our own children’s gems with friends and family. If we’re smart, we write down these scraps of accidental poetry. And we turn them into books.
Martin Bruckner is an artist and father who not only recorded the sayings of his daughter, Harper, but used each as the inspiration for a work of art. After posting them on social media, Bruckner became the artist that other parents sought out to transform their own children’s funny words into artwork. Collected here are 100 mini-posters of pure delight, a marriage of the children’s surprising wisdom and the artist’s nimble style, plus the occasional backstory that amplifies both.
Every parent will recognize the spirited declarations of personality—“I’m training to be a wolf.” The endearing mangling of language—“Mommy, I don’t need your mouth to talk to me right now.” The creative mixing of metaphors—“I need a tissue to wipe my feelings.” Those precious, heartbreaking outbursts without guile or filters—“I only love you at the toy store.” Illustrated with sweetness and whimsy, each is a window into the irresistible innocence of childhood, even if the sentiment is “Dad, please wipe the bum of this beautiful princess.”