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

  • SVS Team

    Hey SVSers.

    We are always trying to make our service better and we rely heavily on comments and concerns from our subscribers. So if you have anything you think could positively impact our company reply to this thread! Below are a few questions we have for you.

    What are some suggestions you have about our course content?

    What are some suggestions you have about the functions of our site?

    What does SVS do better than art school?

    What does SVS do worse than traditional art school?

    Any other comments or concerns are welcome. A big thanks to everybody for being the best part of SVS!

  • The biggest thing that I really like about SVS is that there is more of an emphasis on the storytelling aspect than other online art education I've done. It gives it something unique and I think that could be leaned into even more.

    As for how to go about doing that, I think it'd be great if you guys expanded into other kinds of visual storytelling. Right now there's a strong emphasis on children's books with a decent bit on comics and graphic novels which makes sense since that's where your collective experience primarily is. I think there's room for more niche or underserved areas like videogame art. Not courses on the tech side of it, because that's not what you're about, but on the design, art and storytelling side.

    Another one might be manga. Obviously it's similar to western comics and graphic novels in certain respects, but it does have it's own structure, flow and conventions. Or possibly book cover art and design. That would be interesting too!

    As far as current and future content, take a look at UDemy. I'm taking a web development class right now for instance and it's all very cleanly broken down into larger section headings with very manageable 5-ish to 15 minute sub-segments. I know not everything could be broken down that cleanly, but where it could, it'd make going through classes even more manageable and encourage more shorts sessions.

    As far as the forums go, I know the active population isn't high enough right now to merit it, but over the longer term it'd be great if there were more breakout sub-forums that were medium specific so like-minded people could group together and encourage each other towards their particular goals. This isn't at all a complete list of what this could be, but I'm thinking separate sections broken down something like this:

    -Children's Books
    -Comics, Graphic Novel and Manga
    -Videogames and Board Games
    -Animation and Entertainment (Movies & TV)
    -Misc. (editorial, and whatever else would fit here)

    Lastly, I think it'd be great if you guys did more long format blogging kind of like Muddy Colors. I'm realistic, you guys are working artists and blog posts take time, but if you went on a rotation you could probably produce new content at a fairly steady rate. You could even take some of the same content you cover in various videos on Youtube or whatnot and just refresh it in writing. Or possibly have guest bloggers or maybe features on artists that you all like and want to bring attention to(whether past or present). This would allow you to leverage the comments section on the blog to bring more people into the forums as well.

    As for the other questions, I can't say anything about how traditional art schools compare with SVS. I have no experience with that. The value sure is better though!

  • DINOSAURS!!!!!!! Come on, show us all your tricks and tips!!!!!!!

  • The course side of things is brilliant. Could do with a kind of ‘route’ outline as there is so much to consume. There would be different routes.
    I’d like to see if a members only forum would work only because it would give a feel to paid up people having that something extra besides course content which felt more interactive. But then again I think that would be selfish and ruin the atmosphere here....so not sold out on this idea.
    I’d like the manga side of things too, and more on the comic.
    Comic noir is of particular interest
    Use of linkd in for getting work...and going into more depth on twitter and fb for marketing.

  • SVS OG


    What are some suggestions you have about our course content?

    I'd like more classes on traditional media. Also more business classes. As far as what are some business models that have worked for other artists...self published books, running an etsy store, selling to greeting card companies, producing artwork for coloring books and how and what to send to get work in educational children's market. More info on putting together mailing lists.

    What are some suggestions you have about the functions of our site?

    I find it hard to do a thread with a lot of images. Like if you do an inktober thread. It slows down and the images don't always show up.

  • SVS OG

    @aaron More Jim Madsen please 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @andyg said in What is your favorite part of SVS and what can we do better?:


    I think it would be nice to have a couple more classes that go with the writing side of things-maybe by someone who is a writer and illustrator.I loved Ann Whitford Paul's class.

  • going back to the facebook and twitter promotion thing. Could we set up small cooperatives where we can promote each others work? it would have to be artists who felt they were on a similar level (there are people so good here i wouldn't want to cooperate with as i would bring them down!). virtual bohemian thing....arts cooperative...dunno. just a thought

  • I had another thought. What about a brief "recommended reading" section with the individual courses for people who want to deep dive more on a subject?

  • I second what @marsha-kay-ottum-owen said about more writing classes (and an author-illustrator one would be fantastic!).

    Also - this is in comparison to other online children's book courses, not traditional art school. But something others are doing really well and would be a H-U-G-E feature if you offered it was to give class participants direct submission opportunities where they skip the slush pile (to select art directors you've networked with and got on board with it, or editors and agents). You'd probably want to limit these opportunities to only those in the LIVE classes though, especially since there would be a time limit in order to submit to those industry professionals.

    Speaking of networking with industry professionals - what about classes that are actually taught by an art director, an editor, and an agent?

  • Pro SVS OG

    As far as course content goes, I think SVS is one of the best offerings out there. From my point of view (I have been to formal art school and I have been on Schoolism and on Digital Tutors for years) there is one thing that is unique to SVS and one thing that SVS could do better.

    • Unique plus is the forum. There is no other offering I know that has an equally thriving and self-supporting community. I would build on this as a unique selling point. I would not mind having the forum only open to members (or maybe there could be different levels of membership) and have a more effective platform (posting images is not always simple) and some level of moderation. I think it is exceptional that the faculty tunes in in the discussions - I know it cost time and I would most definitely be prepared to pay for it. Different sub-topics could be an option as well, though I wold not fragment it too much.
    • One thing that SVS misses (especially compared to art school) is a bigger offering of critiqued sessions. I know the new illustration courses have that, but I would personally be more interested in critiques on single images or on the option of doing the assignments on existing courses and have them critiqued. This is something that Schoolims had a while ago (they stopped doing that, so there may be some real time bottlenecks with that) - it was possible to do a registered course out-of-schedule for a fraction of the full fee and submit the assignments for a minimal critique and grading. It was not a full critique, more like a three-line statement on what worked and what did not work.
      This may be more my personal need - sometimes I would really love the eye and suggestions of an experienced illustrator on a critical piece.

  • SVS OG

    I for one like that the forum is public. Since I decided to temporarily stop my membership (with plans to re-open it when I can actually use it [moving+toddler+pregnancy=life is crazy right now]) having access to it despite that is valuable to me--and I hope that my thoughts and comments are still valuable to other members, despite my current lack of membership. I think that the current forum setting which requires new members to make a few comments before creating new topics is good (if it isn't changed from what I remember from joining months ago)--requires you to read and see what others are saying before diving in with your own thread.

    I for one agree with @smceccarelli 's suggestion of making personal critiques more available. Thats one thing that is easy to get in traditional school which is more difficult online, but cannot be matched in value. It is obviously more time consuming than a class which is simply created and then released, but people who know the value will be willing to pay.

    One thing I feel would be helpful with critiques is maybe having a very short questionnaire be filled out by the student submitting. Just a few short questions--What is your goal with this piece? What parts of it are you struggling with? What aspect of illustration are you trying to get better at right now? Thats it, no need to get more.

    The reason I suggest this is I had one otherwise awesome critique from Lee where these questions were not asked, and his suggestions were great but did not take the piece in the direction that I meant it to take, if that makes sense. If he had known what the goal and central idea of the piece was, the critique could have been much more helpful to me.

  • I would like more courses and discussion on editorial illustration.
    And I'd also like more info on the business/marketing side of it all. And definitely what @evilrobot said: etsy, children's market, mailing lists, cards, printing, etc.
    I love everything about SVS and, though I have a paid membership, I love that the forum is open to all.

  • I tell everyone about SVS and we all love it. There's so much relevant, helpful information that really sticks with you. Keep doing what you're doing!

    As far as suggestions go, several members from my crit group and I were talking about how we'd like more female perspectives. We appreciate your nice assortment of classes and instructors, and we learn from everything we hear, but it would be nice to have a better balance of female perspectives - perhaps especially when it comes to contests?

  • I think SVS is doing really great, I've taken a couple of other online courses, but as @Jazeps-Tenis said: the focus on storytelling with your art is what makes me choose SVS over others.

    A 'route' outline as @Andyg suggested might prevent overwhelm to new subscribers. There is so much great content that it is sometimes hard to focus.

    I see questions on more traditional art (yes please!!) and more business-side of things. But I would love to see a class that is somewhere right in between (or after): You are getting the work, now what to do?
    To explain what I mean:
    I am getting some traction with publishers but when working I would love to know more on how to get my traditional art all cleaned up in photoshop( I go way overboard with cleaning, never knowing when to stop) maybe some digital color-management, how to make sure you have enough space for text and still fill the page, file management, etc etc. That info is hard to find and would really improve workflow. Could imagine you would also add the earlier stages, how to professionally present thumbs/sketches etc.

    About the functions of the site: it would be great if there's a way to improve the image-loading (viewing) on the forumthreads as @evilrobot mentioned.

    Thanks for all you do and keep up the great work!!

  • SVS OG

    I agree on the need for more female perspectives. We have three awesome guys and dads as our fearless leaders ( ;-)) but something I haven't been able to find is a woman illustrator to learn from (most especially a work at home mom, but I'll take what I can get). I know, I know, illustration is illustration. But women have different sensibilities and have different societal expectations on them. I LOVED the webinar with Sarah Jane Wright. More of that please.

  • I would like to see a section on the website of Artist services and sites you consider worth endorsing or at least you know are legit. For instance I found this school only because of an interview Will Terry did with Chris Oatley so I felt OK about subscribing for a year because I new it was legit but a lot of other services like editing services seem to be a challenge to find good information on

  • 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?

  • SVS OG

    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.

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