How to Draw Cars Now Special Edition DVD set that introduces students and hobbyists to the world of automotive art and design was a great success on Kickstarter. However, it is really important to recognize that embarking on a projects like this can never be done alone.
Now that the project is complete and life is returning back to normal a little, I have had some time to reflect and also give due credit to people that were involved with the project.
THE IDEA :
I have to admit that I had no idea what I was getting into. Creating a product not only pushed myself to practice my own 4 D’s(Drive, Determination, Discipline, and Draw), but it also helped to solidify the importance of a solid design process and refinement. I remember sitting at my desk reflecting on all the emails that I received from people asking me to create more video tutorials on particular subjects. I created a poll from which people had given me input as to the issues and problems they were having when drawing. I had set up questions on perspective, value sketching, digital painting, sketching techniques, etc…
After collecting the data, it was pretty evident that no matter what people’s background were, most wanted to learn to draw by hand first before getting into digital tools. Many students who did not go to private design schools were very curious about sketching techniques and how to acquire them. I really struggled with trying to find a balance between covering enough material for a beginners course yet find a way to set myself apart from the rest of the “draw cars” content around the web.
So the DVD had to satisfy certain criteria:
1. Not be a gimmick – No “how to draw cars like a pro in 30 days” slogan to fool people into thinking they can master an art that takes many years to develop.
2. Inspirational – it was important to stick with the Driven Mavens motto incorporating the 4D’s(Drive, Determination, Discipline, and Draw) into the lessons being taught. It was not about just providing individuals with a bunch of rules but also provide them with the “mindset” in order to succeed. The mental preparation was just as important as the physical work.
3. Educational – Though I wanted the DVD to be entertaining to some extent, the primary purpose was to educate. To provide high school or college students a tool to prepare for design school or to at least be aware of what to expect. However, the workshop would apply to anyone interested in improving their drawing skills.
4. Value – I had researched a lot of content out on the web in addition to instructional DVDs from Gnomon Workshop that provided excellent lessons for aspiring artists. However, I needed to make sure that I could go a step above in content, packaging, and price in order to compete. So I made sure to create a workshop type package that covered 5 hrs of instructional content covering the basics in sketching to digital paintings. I also created a 20 page insert booklet, 4 ebooks, and a weekly drawing schedule to follow.
In addition to all of this, I have been a big proponent to help improve education. In my opinion, college is getting too expensive and making the right choice for your career can be a difficult one. This was an important factor for the value proposition of How to Draw Cars Now DVD set. To create an affordable educational tool to introduce aspiring designers to design school. If you want to get a job in transportation design, then you may indeed have to go to a school that specializes in automotive design in order to improve your chances of getting a job in that field. So why not create a dvd set that can give you that “intro” before you commit and spend tuition money equivalent to a loan! Sounds like a pretty good value for $50!
Now embarking on this crazy quest also meant that I needed a great crew to help me kickstart the project. Unfortunately, money was extremely tight and I had to think of a creative way to get the support I needed, funding, and awareness for the project.
1. Myself – DVD contents and production, panic stricken basket case
2. My wife – Web development, panic neutralizer, onsite therapist, mom, and wonder woman
3. My Friends and Family – proof reading , misc suggestions, and motivators
4. Thom Eggert – video equipment , principal photographer, and master model maker for all my toys and props
5. Echo Multimedia – DVD production
That is a pretty small crew but I engaged with great people that believed in the project and wanted to help!
It took me 10 months to put this DVD set together. Working full time in the auto industry, being a father, husband, probably made it take much longer that I had anticipated which made this event even more meaningful to me. It really is a true dedication to my family for enabling this to happen. Without their support, this project simply could not be a reality.
I think I can call her “WONDERWOMAN!” I title that she fully deserves for being able to help me, take care of the kids, home, and squeeze in time to tackle all the web related stuff. She graduated with a bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering and received a Masters in Biomedical Engineering from U of M. So she is a heck of a lot smarter than I am It takes a lot of energy to be able to handle all this. She is the foundation and strength that held this family together.
MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY:
Many from my family had provided input from slogans to proof reading the material. My parents always encouraged me to pursue my passion and to make sure that I followed through till the end. ”Go for the gold and don’t settle for 2nd place!” sort of mentality. So that has always had a lasting effect on me.
Special friends like, Brian Stupski, from Problem Child Kustoms, also helped to provide some professional advice and was super cool to back the project himself. In fact I had several friends that wanted this project to be successful and were pretty excited to back the project up and pre-order the DVD set. It was truly a humbling experience!
Of course you cannot capture your videos without great video equipment and Thom was crucial to not only take the professional photographs for our website but also provided the boom extension and tripod to film the work. Technically I am still “borrowing” his equipment from 2 years ago!! Thom, another backer of the project, is also a wonderful photographer that deserves recognition. Here is an excerpt from his portfolio site.
“From early on in my life photography has chosen me to capture the world. My subject matter is always changing, from the close up of a flower dripping with morning dew to the awe inspiring views of a sunset to the sensual lines of automobiles. I find enjoyment in the development process of black and white photography. To be able to watch my work come to life in my darkroom is magical. When people view my work, I’d like hem to feel the energy that I saw while composing the photograph.”
His photography is stunning and brings a whole new level of character to the scenes being shot. Check out some of his pictures below.
More of his works can be seen here on his website. thomeggert.zenfolio.com It will definitely not disappoint!
Now because the economy was in the dumps, (and still recovering) it was imperative to make sure that I sourced the production of the DVDs in the States and preferably in Michigan. Having a local manufacturer made is easy for me to communicate and review samples then going abroad or to another state. I found Echo Multimedia to be a small and quaint operation run by a really cool guy named Barry. Barry has done such a wonderful job of communicating and dealing with my constant changes. His pricing was also fairly competitive. So if you have any DVD projects yourself, be sure to check him out. I highly recommend his services. EM is located in Clawson, Michigan.
Now funding I thought was going to be a little bit of an issue. We had some cash but not quite enough to fund the entire project. So we put in a decent percentage and needed to make up some of the difference with family and friends. I always felt funny asking friends to help and generally shy away from approaching friends at all. In comes Kickstarter! About a year before the project, a friend of mine had sent me a link to a graphic designer that created some video game posters that ended up being a huge success on Kickstarter. He needed around 4k or so to create these sweet posters that would use a screen printing process(sort of old school) for his minimalistic designs. Check it out here. He ended up receiving over 12K! I thought that was pretty remarkable! The potential for getting the sort of reach and visibility was pretty amazing! So I knew that Kickstarter would be a great avenue to explore in order to get the project funded and avoid having to rely on too many other people.
I spent several months researching the Kickstarter “process.” I had originally thought that putting up a project on Kickstarter and getting funding would be a piece of cake. It looked so easy when you scan through all the success stories. I was completely wrong. Running a project on Kickstarter and trying to work out the details and timing of your project required a lot of planning and hard work. Not just from a product content standpoint, but also logistics. What materials would I use, would the DVD’s work internationally? Will I be able to fit enough content on two discs? What sort of packaging should I use? How much would it costs? etc…the list goes on.
The most difficult and unpredictable problem for me was timing. No matter how much I planned, there were always events and unforeseen issues that I had not planned for that delayed my timing to launch the project on Kickstarter in the first place. I had originally intended to release in the fall of 2011 before the school semester. We had a lot of issues with the preliminary software we were using to edit the DVDs and publish it into a format that looked professional. Not to mention I had to also LEARN all the programs from scratch and overcome their glitches. I painful process indeed! Editing and voice overs also took a lot more time than I had anticipated. So whatever your project, be sure to plan for the worst case scenario.
Once I was around 90% completed. I submitted the project to Kickstarter. It was a tense moment to see whether we would be accepted. Ten months of work was hanging on an approval from Kickstarter….talk about tense! Thankfully we were approved within a few days. Once we were approved we started to write to as many blogs as we could to help bring awareness to our project. Autoblog was kind enough to feature our story followed by several others.
I would also like to mention that despite having some decent exposure, we had posted the project during the WORST time. That time being a week before Christmas when no one was on the internet. Though we reached our funding goal, pre-orders came in before Christmas and after New Years. We had virtually no activity in between. Despite that fact, we still surpassed our funding goal by a few grand. Though we felt that our reach would be more, we were ecstatic about the final results!
After the project deadline, we had to wait a couple weeks before the funds would be transferred to our account. I used the extra two to three weeks to finish up the DVD and add some bonus content to the discs. I must report that we have had 3 reviews from websites that have all given us terrific reviews. However, the ultimate judges for the actual value for the final product falls in the hands of our backers. I have been getting several comments from users that have given us terrific feedback thanking us for creating this learning tool. To me, you just can’t ask for more than that!
Overall it was undeniably one of the best experiences that I have had. To work full time, raise a family, and create a product that is purchased and used globally only proves that Drive, Determination, and Discipline are in fact real, and are every bit as important to not only master the art of drawing cars, but also to achieve any other goal that you may have believed to be impossible.
For those who are interested in kickstarting their passion for drawing, you can order the DVD set here. http://store.drivenmavens.com/
Hope you enjoyed the story …and wish you all success for your future endeavors!