What is your favorite part of SVS and what can we do better?

  • I absolutely agree with @Sarah-LuAnn and @Timbdsf that I'd like to see more women instructors.

  • Just curious, but what does it matter who you're learning art from so long as they're providing good instruction? I've taken Jake's inking class because he taught great things about using brush pens. I'm now taking Yuko Shimizu's class on Skillshare because she teaches great things about inking with a brush. It doesn't matter whether they're a man or a woman as long as they're providing good instruction. Am I missing something here?

  • On the one hand, I agree with you. Art is art. Illustration is illustration. Its true, up to the point that it isn't anymore. Am I being vague enough? Let me ramble a bit longer ;-)

    Feminism is a weird thing because on the one hand I feel like one of its messages is "Men and women are the same and we're all just human and it doesn't matter!" But while that has some truth, the reality is that there ARE differences between men and women. Some of that is biological and mental differences, and a lot of that is still part of the societal and cultural expectations that people have.

    In art, to me there is a difference in the sensibilities on Male vs. Female artists. Some ride the line in between pretty well, but the difference is there. Often times you can look at an illustration and come to an assumption of whether the artist was male or female--sometimes you're wrong of course, but often times you will be right.

    Business is the same (and we're all trying to get into the illustration BUSINESS here, in some shape or form, I assume)--women can be awesome entrepreneurs, but often have different strengths and approaches to it than men. Which is a good thing! I'm not saying that they aren't equal. They're just different.

    Another big one is the expectation society still has on women as far as career and family goes. It is all well and good hearing from three men how that has worked out for them. The advice is good and useful and I plan to apply it in my career. I'm not saying it is bad, or even flawed. But that doesn't change the fact that I am a stay at home mom trying to figure out this whole illustration career thing, and hearing from someone who comes from the same situation would feel so much more applicable. Its also simply validating as far as the concept of, "Look, here is someone LIKE ME who is doing what I want to do. Maybe it really is possible."

    Many women might not care. But clearly a few of us do. So, that is something worth mentioning in a thread such as this one.

    So, am I sexist? I don't know. I am NOT saying that I have felt discriminated against here, either by students or faculty. And I think the classes and community here at SVS is useful to me either way, so I'm not saying that this is a HUGE MAJOR FLAW, or that the instructors are sexist. But when asked what might make my experience here better, I do have to mention that it would be great to feel more represented gender-wise among the faculty/owners.

  • @sarah-luann Hey Sarah - i'm agreeing with your post and just throwing my 2 cents in -(I'm pretty sure that i recall Will mentioning in a third Thursday live event that they do try hard to get female instructors but have found it very difficult - so we know the issue is on their radar) I know from my own experience as a teacher that having or not having someone like yourself as an instructor does make a difference to students - there is much more to being successful than becoming good at something - it is important or at least very helpful to know that our aspirational goals are achievable - having diversity in our teaching staffs can show the student on day one that their aspirational goals can be achieved.....this is really important - "Can i really do this?" is a question answered for many of us without asking because we are surrounded by successful examples of folks that are similar in appearance and human experience who Are successful - this is just one aspect of why diversity is good but i just wanted to stress it because it can seem subtle if it does not effect us personally - anyways like i said - just my two cents :)
    (How about Rebecca Green?...worth a try :)

  • @sarah-luann

    How do you decide which group categories are meaningful enough to have distinct representation though? For instance, I have Crohn's disease and that dramatically affects how I live my life and the opportunities I have available to me. It also can be a serious drain on energy. This isn't at all a pity ploy. I'm very at peace with the realities of my life and comfortable with the challenges this brings. I don't have any expectation though that I'm going to be represented in my unique circumstances, nor would I want it. I'm not saying you shouldn't, but rather speaking purely for myself.

    Might it be interesting to hear from other artists who deal with long term illnesses in a podcast or something? Sure, I'd check that out, but I'd feel really weird about it if it just felt like a bit of tokenism. In fact the line between tokenism and representation seems very thin most of the time.

    In the broader picture, it seems that you get to a really unsustainable place with this where you just go round and round with everyone vying for representation for their subgroup until everything is just artificial quotas. I know you're not saying anything as broad as all of this or as serious as all of this. I'm just extrapolating the long term effect. You can't possibly represent everyone there is to be represented for everything they want to be represented for. Look at my name. I'm half-Latvian and that means a lot to me. In fact more than most other things about me, but I've never once seen another Latvian artist teaching online or anywhere else. They may exist, but I've not seen it and even if I were to find them, I'd only be interested if they were a good teacher and teaching the things I wanted to learn.

    And I'm not saying don't care about these things. It's not my place to tell anyone what to care about and I have no problem with you voicing what you'd like to see. I'm just saying that just as you pointed out how society has certain expectations and presumptions, so too does society at large show preference towards particular elements of identity over others. Possibly even to an inflated degree. There's any number of factors which give a person a unique perspective after all. Their sex, yes, but also where they live, their background, family history, upbringing, their health and on and on.

    The short of it is I guess is that we can always find various ways to relate to different kinds of people so long as we're really considering the whole person and not just particular pockets of identity. You might very well find a busy father more relatable than a particular kind of mother. A black person and a white person might connect over common feelings of alienation despite having different experiences which caused it.

    That's enough of my own rambling though. :P

  • @jazeps-tenis I don't know if this is a good enough answer or not, but maybe you can decide that a group is distinct enough to warrant representation when they make up a good portion of your customer base. I have no idea what the stats are on SVS customers, but if I had to guess, I'd assume women make up at least close to half. I could be totally wrong though.

  • Tess said it. I could say more on the topic, but in the interest of keeping this thread focused on the original topic I would suggest that if we feel the need to discuss the topic further it be continued in another thread.

  • I think there's a lot of problematic implications of this, but I doubt it will lead to any productive conversation so I'll let it be.

  • What is so fascinating about the SVS forum is that, while talking about art, the community touches on so many different aspects of society and life that are expression of being a human being living on this planet (at least in the North-Western emisphere) at this particular time of history.
    I am not contributing to this discussion but just raising another aspect of it which is maybe more pragmatic. There are a few non-US artists in the forum and on the courses - I am not sure how many of them, but maybe the administrators know. Now, while different perspectives based on gender, ethnicity or health may have an impact on how we approach creativity, time-management, self promotion or motivation, geographical areas are most definitely different in terms of market. It would be great to have some contribution from an European artist or art director specifically about the differences between the European and the American market. I have collected a few along the last year:

    • European artists are often unrepresented on the European market and some clients do not like to deal with agents (not sure about this, but defnitely the majority of my European colleagues who are active professionally are not represented);
    • Advances for children books in mainland Europe are a fraction of the US typical advances. Not sure about UK;
    • The whole foreign rights management is vital to the artist/author income, as no single country has a big enough market (though probably there are exceptions);
    • There are some different preferences in terms of art style - these are sometimes very local to specific countries, but it would be nice to have at least some discussions of the specific differences between UK and US (and Canada as well, when we are at it);
    • Children books are of different length. Longer children books are very common in Germany, while UK ones seem to be shorter (and I believe this is due to the habit/necessity of printing hardcover and softcover at the same time, while in the US this is done at different time points);

    These are certainly only a few and may be anedoctical or not completely correct. In general, how can an artist enter the European market effectively and whether it is worthwhile to do so would be what I would really like to know. The world is much smaller today than it ever was - yesterday I was contacted by a publisher in Turkey, and honestly I have no clue how things are approached there either....

  • I've been curious about the European market as well! I think my art has a pretty American look to it, but often when a book is released with a different cover for the US and European markets, I usually find that I like the European cover more.

  • Another thing that I myself have trouble with is adjusting scans or photos of original artwork in Photoshop to look like the originals. I'd love to see the process pros use to get their images ready for publishing.

  • I really enjoy the forum but I find the delay loading of the pictures a bit annoying...... or is it just me?

    I like that SVS really focuses on the storytelling side of things, not so much in the software, although they cover it too.

    In general. I love it

  • My 3 favorite things about SVS-

    1. Courses that include assignments or workbooks.
    2. The fun tone of the classes and personality of the instructors.
    3. Curriculum that includes both art skills and business knowledge.

    Things you could do better-

    This is concerning art skill classes. I'm also a subscriber to schoolism. My intention is not to offend with this comparison, but I think there's a couple of things that schoolism does that I've found to be very beneficial as a self-studier-

    1. They push you to improve your skills with assignments. Even with taking a class by subscription, it is organized by lesson and each lesson includes an assignment. You feel obligated (or at least I do) to do an assignment before you move on to the next concept. I've noticed with classes here, assignments feel like an after thought- not because the workbook exercises are inadequate- but because it almost feels like there's no pressure to do them- it's just there as an option included at the end of all of the course content. I think Jake's update of "How to Draw Everything" is a great improvement to the way the material is organized- to give more emphasis on encouraging you to apply the knowledge presented. I also loved a moment in one of the classes here where Will tells you to pause the video, come up with some thumbnails and then un-pause the video to see how yours compared to what Jake came up with. That felt like a break through moment for me, because I was challenged to apply the knowledge taught, and then I had a professional standard to compare my results to on the same exact exercise. This kind of brings me to the next thing I think schoolism get right:

    2)They include the prerecorded critiques of the live class students for each lesson/assignment. You get the benefit of seeing someone less skilled than you getting critiqued- people with a similar skill level as you get critiqued, and people with stronger skills than you get critiqued- all on the same exact assignment. There's something about that set up, that I feel lets you learn so much. There's a good variety of critiques, that it's almost as good as getting a personal critique- most of the questions you struggled with during your assignment, get answered if you take the time to look at the critiques included. I know you include critique sessions here, but they are usually on personal pieces. I learn a lot from those, but it's a bit different than being able to view critiques on the same assignment.

    Anyway, just thought I'd throw those out there. I really love SVS and think it's a unique and much needed addition to online art education. Thanks for all that you provide and all your hard work.

  • administrators

    I'd like to reply to the comment about having more female instructors. I couldn't agree more. We are working with some now and they are fantastic. Over the past 2 years we have been really trying to get women teachers and they have all declined. I'm not sure why it's worked out that way, but I wanted to let you guys know that we are aware of it and have been trying to fix it for a very long time. We just haven't had many takers so far in terms of teaching. Luckily that seems to be getting better now though. : )

  • Okay, You twisted my arm. I'll teach. I can do a class on how to be a full time mom and illustrator. Lesson one: "I can't clean the messy kitchen. I'm using it as reference!"

    Kidding aside, I love all of the suggestions above and have two to add. As suggested in another thread, it would be great to have live, in-person events with SVS students and (if available) faculty...much like your open house. I would also love a way to organize smaller critique groups. I do hesitate suggesting "closed groups" because I would hate for anyone to feel left out, but it is easier to get/give feedback when there is a smaller group to get to know and understand.

    I've been taking classes from SVS for a long time--near the beginning, I suspect--and every change has improved the learning and SVS community. Thank you!

  • I agree with Tess about the Visualizing Perspective class by Will where he has you pause the video that is my favorite class I have taken here. I feel like I got so much out of that class. I also really enjoyed the Draw 50 Things class and would love to see more challenge type classes like that. I would love to see some more watercolor and traditional art classes as well. The only thing I can think of for improvement is some of the lessons can get a bit long, it's just easier to digest information in shorter bursts sometimes I think, maybe that's just me and my old brain though lol.

  • I love the content and the different subjects offered. My suggestion is just about customization in organization. Is that possible? I love my spreadsheet where i can see in one screen which classes i have taken and which ones i have left. I also like to colorcode which ones i want to take next or listen to again. Also if i have completed any assignments or still need/want to. I hate updating the spreadsheet when there is new conent added to the website. It would be nice to be able to do all that on my dashboard. To be able to view the classes in different orders like by subject or by date added or alphabetically.

    My other suggestion is to be able to "play all" when there are multiple videos for a class.

    I love how much i have learned here. Thank you so much for all the amazing classes!

  • @joy-heyer Lesson one: "I can't clean the messy kitchen. I'm using it as reference!"

    I am stealing this one 😊

  • I will ditto @holleywilliamson suggestions about organization. I meant to mention something along those same lines, but forgot.

  • Lee started a topic with a survey of things we'd like to see more of at SVS, so if you haven't seen it, you might want to check it out. A lot of good suggestions have been given there, as well:

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