Behind the Scenes at svslearn.com
I wanted to write an open letter to all of you because we have received a few questions an I thought this might be the most efficient way to respond to them.
Questions have been centered around the release of new classes we have put on our schedule as well as critique classes, and portfolio reviews.
First I want all of you to know how thrilled the three of us (Jake, Lee, and Will) are to be able to work on this project we call SVS! We love being able to involve ourselves in this community of teaching illustration - working with students and teachers. We share an talk about a lot of your work in our meetings and in our communication daily.
There has been some confusion on when classes are being released and what will be available to subscribers. We are sorry for the confusion so we thought we would tell you a little about what we are doing now at svs to make things more clear.
Backing up a little - when we first formed SVS we decided - the three of us - that we would maintain our professional careers as freelance illustrators. None of us wanted to give up the careers we worked so hard to develop and this is the main reason we've never worked full time at a University or art school. It's no secret that students in art schools often talk about their adjunct professors as giving them the best practical advice as they are most often still working illustrators... we knew we needed to lead by example.
As you can guess however freelance projects don't often come in at the best times and create scheduling conflicts with our SVS class schedules at times. We often have to shift projects and deadlines around to make everything work in addition to appearances and show schedules.
We are also working with other teachers and trying to work around their freelance schedules to bring you classes. Sometimes we will have a teacher who has agreed to create a class with us only to back out or postpone their class due to their schedule. Often at a University or art school you find out who your teacher is the first day of class - it could be an amazing teacher or a dud. We are trying to find the best artists/teachers on the planet who have time and are willing to work under our deadlines and budgets to bring you really useful information and training. It's sometimes like herding cats - but we love these cats!
In addition to finding teachers we have been trying to learn how to run this business by hiring consultants, a manager, interns, customer support, marketing, etc. etc. etc. We often find ourselves in meetings instead of creating new classes.
We listen and talk about your comments and try to address them in our opperations and policies. One recurring comment has been the lack of quality in some of our classes - not of content but on the audio/video side of some of our first classes. For this reason we are committed to re-making some of these classes. I've been spending the last two months re-making "Creative Composition" which should be done soon. It's not exciting because in the end I'll not be able to announce a NEW class but a remake. I'm telling you this however so you'll understand that we are committed to growing SVS and increasing the quality and value that you're getting.
We aren't the best at running SVS but we want to get better every day and we're willing to learn. If you feel like it's been taking us too long to release classes you're not alone and please understand that we get it. We're working on it.
We have a really exciting schedule of new classes that will release in the subscription coming between now and the end of the year. Here's a short list from this year and we have more planned but that aren't on the list yet because we don't have all the confirmations in place just yet - but they will happen!
-Drawing Heads & Hands
Videos in subscription
-Character Design w/ Jake
-The Magic of Color revamp
-Art Licensing w/ Gina Jane
-Sketchbooking w/ Jake
-Drawing Heads and Hands video version (in August)
Videos for individual purchase only
-Idea Development video version
Extras (for FREE!)
-Live art crit with Will
-4 podcast episodes
Upcoming classes (short list)
Ben Sowards: Painting
Jake Parker: Figure design and invention
Mark Pett: From Comics to Children's books
David Hohn: Drawing Heads and Hands
Will Terry: Creative Composition updated
If you have any suggestions for us we will read them in our next meeting.
Wow, that's a lot of stuff coming up! Thanks for taking the time to let everyone know what's going on and all the work & planning you've been up to lately. As with anything else, I think people are usually understanding once they know more about the challenges of a situation.
Well, I'm excited for the remake, since I haven't finished that class yet! I'll have to watch it from the beginning again when the update comes out. And I'm super excited for the "Live art crit with Will"! I feel like I learn so much from watching critiques!
I think you all are doing a great job and it's awesome to see your dedication to SVS and your students, and your commitment to providing high quality classes.
It sounds like a huge undertaking to continue developing SVS, in addition to juggling the other aspects of your careers. I agree--I feel like I am getting real, applicable information in these classes, since you all work in illustration.
I didn't know there were going to be "Videos for individual purchase only" classes. Can you tell us more about this type of class, and the reason for that format?
I have a suggestion for the list of classes--it would be nice if it could be sorted by newest to oldest (and perhaps vice-versa). That way it'd be easy for people to find the new classes.
@miriam To tag on to the last thing Miriam said, I think a search bar so we could filter and find a specific class would be nice!
Thanks for the update, Will! I can imagine that scheduling gets a bit hairy around there at times! And what artists ever truly enjoy administration?
I am still very interested in Children's Books, Environments, and as second choices Book Covers or Ideation--all as live classes. You mentioned the last two but not the first two, so I will assume that something beyond your control is holding those back for now. My only reason for wanting to know when they will be available is so that I can hold a place for them! I might be able to squeeze in two, but not more, and I would hate to think I missed the opportunity to take those first two because I had already committed to something else. I enjoyed my experience in Turbocharging and I'm very much looking for another live class.
I also look forward to watching many of the other classes in subscription. I appreciate all you are trying to do, especially as you listen to the needs of your students but also give us your professional advice. Keep up the good work, guys!
P.S. I have never done a portfolio review because I am having so much trouble completing portfolio pieces (I'm learning fast but also experimenting a lot, so I don't often like the results). Would you ever do a consultation of the "Here's what you do well and here are the skills you still need and here's how to get them so that you can finally build that portfolio" kind of thing? Thanks!
There is a search box, IF you are on the "All Courses" page (not on the "My Dashboard" page). https://svs.thinkific.com/collections (The search bar is on the upper right part of the page.)
@miriam Whoops XD
I've been a subscriber since you first opened that possibility. I used to look with no small amount of envy at people able to pay for the whole price of the classes, and I couldn't. You have such a wealth of information on here that, for me, anything new that comes down the road is a bonus. Even though I'm not yet where I'd like to be, I thank you for doing this at all. I'd be so much farther back if it wasn't for SVS.
Why is one of the videos for purchase only? I found that a bit strange. (Not complaining just a critique lol)
@will-terry Thanks Will , What you got going is great, looking forward to new stuff too, Chris
@miriam Hi Miriam,
Some of the agreements we have made with certain teachers don't allow for us to include classes in the subscription. There are interesting problems we are trying to solve with subscription pricing and royalties that go to teachers. Other classes that won't go into the subscription include a lot of live back and forth between students and teachers. Many students do NOT want their comments recorded and given to strangers because they are sharing their artistic vulnerabilities.
As far as organizing the site - we agree - we are hoping to be able to afford a lot of custom programming that would allow us to make the changes you are suggesting. My mouth dropped open when I found out how much work it is and the costs of custom work - but it's a goal right now.
Lee is talking about running an interactive version of the children's book class. I'll be re-making that one after I remake "Painting Color and Light" after I finish "Creative Composition" ...no end in sight for the work that needs to be done :) ...and yes - there are reasons that Environments has been delayed.
We also want to be able to afford a program director who will make sure that our content is developed and released ontime.
My goal is to finish up my classes and then run portfolio and critique classes over and over.
Thank you Becky! We love doing this and we're all very excited for what we are able to accomplish in the coming years!
@jason-bowen Some of the agreements we have made with certain teachers don't allow for us to include classes in the subscription. There are interesting problems we are trying to solve with subscription pricing and royalties that go to teachers. Other classes that won't go into the subscription include a lot of live back and forth between students and teachers. Many students do NOT want their comments recorded and given to strangers because they are sharing their artistic vulnerabilities.
@c-davies Thank you!
@will-terry thanks for replying, and I think what you guys have done is great so far, so keep battling forward and share your skills. I have gotten a lot from svs learn :)
Just wanted to say that I think you guys are AWESOME. I have been a subscriber since it started, and I recommend SVS to people all the time. I hope to take some live classes some day too (when it fits the budget) but there is so much in the subscriptions, I feel like I've barely tapped the depths of knowledge there. Thank you for building this site and the community around it. It is an answer to prayer for people like me who are compelled to create and never got a chance at art school... and don't have the ability now (stay at home mom of 5 and bookkeeper for our 2 businesses). Its affordable and accessible and I'm closer to my dreams because of it. You all put up with a lot of complaining, but we all know you have lives and careers outside of SVS. Your commitment to this project is astounding. Thanks for everything you do and all you plan to!!
@pamela-fraley Even those of us who have had the chance to go to art school sometimes get more out of these classes then we did at school. Especially if we went for a Fine Arts degree. I have two kids myself ,and after a 15 year hiatus from any kind of art am working on learning the fine art of illustration (see what I did there?). Wishing you best of luck!
I think we all definitely appreciate the work that you guys have put in to push svs and I am looking forward to the revamped classes as well as the new ones. I am looking forward to the day when I can be good enough to have something of my own to teach :P The forum has also been of super help to myself and many others and I hope it will only grow and grow :D
Some things I would like to see and it may have already come up before, but although we can see work on the forums that people have been working on, it would also nice to have some examples of completed assignments for the courses that svs has available (with the permission of the illustrator of course) on the course menu itself. I know you asked for images that may be displayed on the site in the future, but I think it would be useful to see how other people have tacked certain assignments and to see the work that the courses help produce.
Another thing that I doubt we will see again, and I wasn't around at the time so I didn't have a chance to join one, but I found that the critique videos were really informative and I learnt a lot about how to improve my own work by seeing how you critiqued other people's work. Schoolism has critique videos for a lot of their student's on each course that are available for others to watch and I know a lot of people are sensitive about showing their work as they are learning, but it can invaluable to everyone. I haven't taken a live class here yet, so I don't know how your current critiques are, but the ones you did for the monthly competitions were amazing and it would be great to see some example of that again.
Will, thank you for the update. I think what you all have built has been monumental, especially as you all are continuing to grow your own careers (extremely successful careers) and have families as well. I have grown so much as an artist because of SVS and the forum has been my greatest source of support. I am grateful for all you are doing for us SVS'ers . I am excited for the growth and success of SVS and SVS'ers!!!!!
@pamela-fraley Wow! Thank you - it means a lot!