This is an amazing story of a man who experienced a long and lonely path to creating a video game art career for himself, and used his experience to help others shortcut their journey.
About this Site
If you're an aspiring artist and am flabbergasted at the cost of art education ($40,000 / year), you'll love the notion of Pencil Kings.
Pencil Kings is a website filled with different online courses, to help the aspiring artist pick up art in an affordable and easy to digest manner.
The story of Mitch Bowler, and how things evolved to Pencil Kings is about love, experimentation and fun.
Young Mitch grew up knowing he wanted to be a video game artist.
At some point in his adulthood, he took a job at Activision. While he was there, he got a chance to work on big projects like DJ Hero and Transformers.
But it was a side project which made his life take a different turn.
“I originally set up Drawing Coach for fun in my spare time,” he says, “but I was amazed at how popular it became! In truth, I’d started to feel like my passion for working in the games industry had gone, but this provided me with a whole new direction.”
This side project experience gave him inspiration which gave birth to another idea.
He realized that the cost of an art education ($40,000 per year) is just out of reach for many aspiring artists, and wondered if there was an alternative.
He then started out to create the alternative, and Pencil Kings was born.
Free Podcast with Illustrators, Artists & more....
On his site, he regularly interviews and publishes podcasts with other creatives - illustrators, artists - you name it.
On the podcast, he covers topics such as...
"How to make it as an artist?"
"How to bring your creative project to life"
"How to balance your career with your creativity?"
These are topics that speak DEEPLY to aspiring artists, piques their interest, and get them one step closer to the Pencil Kings brand.
How it Makes Money
Amazing trove of Art Courses.. you can surely find one that will fit you
Pencil Kings partners with great artists all over the world, to deliver the best possible training for each of their courses.
How to draw faces? - check!
Learn how to draw comic book characters? - check!
As of time of writing (and my last count), there are 95 art courses in Pencil Kings, and you sure expect it to keep growing!
The Membership Model
Instead of charging a fee per course, Pencil Kings offer a buffet, "all you can eat" option.
This means that paying for either a monthly or yearly membership, members get access to ALL the courses in the Pencil Kings members area.
And if you think about it, it's just crazy great, because you don't have to pay for course after course, and you can learn as much/as fast as you are motivated to.
The membership model also fosters a "community", that people can rely on each other for advice and support.
Of course, this model also gives Pencil Kings a sense of certainty with regards to regular income, so it's just a win-win!
How It Is Doing
Without having inside details to the members base or revenue, we can best estimate based on current traffic.
With close to 100,000 visits per month, and web visitors staying on average more than 5 mins (likely to be members logging in to access the courses), and the fact that Pencil Kings has been around since 2010 with such a wide partnership with art instructors, my best guess is it's doing very well.
The majority of the traffic comes from the US, but interestingly the 2nd largest population is Brazil.
Quote from Mitch:
If you really want to do something, the hardest part might just be starting... leaving your comfort zone - be that where you live, where you work, who you spend time with - in favor of doing something new.
Love Mitch and Pencil Kings? Like his Facebook Page here:
My Biggest Takeaways...
I really love Mitch's story.
It's about passion and craft - beginning with video game art.
Then it's about experimentation with Drawing Coach - and that's where he found that people were really interested in learning to draw.
And that set him up for Pencil Kings, where he put all his experience in drawing, feedback from operating Drawing Coach into Pencil Kings, a membership site for aspiring artists.
And with that, he's able to bring vast technical knowledge at a fraction of the cost of a formal education to the world.
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