“It was really the community around the series that made the campaign explode!” Lorenzo Etherington on the success of How To Think When You Draw
To celebrate being awarded our first ever Community Champion award, we caught up with Lorenzo Etherington, one half of the all conquering Etherington Brothers, to discuss their hugely successful Kickstarter for How To Think When You Draw and their plans for 2019.
Congratulations on the amazing success of the How To Think When You Draw kickstarter (most successful comics kickstarter ever!), it’s been one of the most exciting stories of the year. Did you ever expect it to take off in such an amazing fashion? And at what point did you allow yourself to think this might be something really special?
Lorenzo Etherington: Thank you so much – it was an amazing thing to witness, and I say witness more than “make happen” because it was really the community around the series that made the campaign explode the way it did. It felt like there was a lot of goodwill around the tutorials in general, and to see that convert into such a huge event was magical. When I hit the target in the first 30 minutes after making the campaign live (before I’d told anyone about it!) I felt that something fairly epic was about to unfold!
What’s been the best and most challenging part of this success? (I imagine having to manage all those pledges must have been a bit of an admin nightmare! And what about all the posting?!)
LE: I’d done a few kickstarters before, and although they had been smaller, the mechanics of running a simple book-based kickstarter really scale up quite simply. As long as you stay focused on delivering a great product on time (or ahead of time), the logistics are actually pretty straight forward. The best thing was probably sending my how to draw books to backers at Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, EA, Blizzard, Ubisoft, Sony, Rockstar etc 😉
For those who have been living under a rock and not heard about it, can you tell us a bit about what the idea behind it is?
LE: How to THINK when you draw is a massive series of FREE online drawing tutorials, covering an enormous range of subjects. The series is extremely user-friendly, designed to benefit every skill level, from the absolute beginner to the seasoned professional. They are used by everyone from children up to seasoned professionals at the world’s BIGGEST animation, film and games studios. The kickstarter was for a book which gathered together the first year or so of them into a full colour hardback 200 page book.
And why do you think it resonated with so many people?
LE: I think when I launched the series, learning on the internet had become so monetised that it was almost impossible to learn to draw online without having to constantly dip into your pocket to unlock a paywall or subscription teaching service. I think people were tired of that, they missed (as I did) the more generous internet from 10 – 15 years ago, where people shared their skills online because it was amazing to be able to help people with no barriers. I launched the series with the promise that it would be very high quality, that it would grow to be a HUGE resource, and that it would be FREE online for EVERYONE, FOREVER.
You and Robin have done an amazing job of creating a community around your work, whether that is online or via your appearances at conventions. Is community that something which is really important to you as a way to give back to the fans? And do you have a recipe for success in building a community, or is it just about being true to yourself?
LE: I think there is only one way to build a community, and that’s to make everything you put out FOR the community. It’s all about giving people an endless stream of content which helps THEM, not which solely serves YOU. Our followers know that every day they’ll get content from us which will be 100% focused on helping them raise THEIR art and writing. If you do that, and really do it for the right reasons, and let people know that they never need pay you a single penny, and you’ll just keep doing it anyway, then I think that people respond very positively to it.
What is it about Kickstarter which you like so much as a platform and do you think this is the future for self publishing?
LE: Kickstarter allows true, unbridled, unedited, unfiltered creativity. It is unbeatable, unstoppable, and if we all treat it with the respect and care it deserves, it can serve all of us.
How did the success of this compare your previous campaigns, such as Stranski, or were they completely different beasts?
LE: My Stranski campaign raised £40,000, which I thought was exceptional. The How to THINK when you draw campaign raised a quarter of a million. The DNA of both campaigns was the same, they were just at a different scale.
And finally, how do you follow up a book like this? I know Robin is working on a How To Think When you Write, but will we see more drawing tutorial books? More Stranski? And what about a new comic book?
LE: We have announcements coming very soon, so stay tuned, I can’t say more than that, but rest assured, we will be coming BACK to Kickstarter in 2019…!