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Christopher Hart

‘‘ Draw what you love and the money will follow... this advice is a recipe for career disaster. Instead, love what you’re good at. ’’

By Christopher HartOctober 24, 2017

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Hi Christopher, can you briefly describe your channel to new viewers?

It’s for all levels of artists, but mostly for beginners. I use it to demonstrate  how to draw specific, popular styles, such as manga or retro cartooning, as well as different subject matter, such as animals and figure drawing. Everything is done with a focus on character design.

Chris, let’s start off with how you started. What was your first job where you got paid to draw?

When I was in high school, I got a part time job working for a small animation company in San Diego, California, doing characters designs and some storyboards.

Christopher-Hart-Drawing

I was living in L.A., and used to drive 136 miles down there on the weekends, and then drive back.

I was obsessed with drawing.

You worked as a staff writer on several NBC primetime comedy shows and at large film production companies like MGM, Paramount and 20th Century Fox. Did you enjoy writing? Why did you pivot back to drawing?

My how-to-draw books were taking off at the same time I was writing for TV shows in L.A. However, my wife and I are New Yorkers at heart. Publishing the how-to books allowed me to move back to New York, and it’s also where the publishers are.

Writing short pieces is fun; but long pieces is hard, at least, it was for me. When you write short pieces, you can focus on the jokes. But when you’re writing long pieces, like screenplays, your focus has to be on structure.

How did the opportunity come to create your first How-To-Draw Book?

A publisher that knew of my cartoon work contacted me. They were a well respected publisher in art technique, but had never done a book on drawing cartoons. I did a extensive presentation, and they liked it, and published the book.

Drawing-HowTo

I actually forgot about it, and went about my business. I then got a call a few months later, from my editor, who invited me to lunch. Turned out that the book was very successful, and they wanted me to do more books for them.

[Daniel: Since then, Christopher Hart has become the world’s best-selling author of how-to-draw books, with more than 100 titles published! His books have sold more than 7 million copies in 20 languages.]

When writing a new book, what does a routine work day look like? Do you like to work in short sprints or do marathon stretches?

Few people I know can write all-day long. It would be like playing a 10-hour game of chess.

But you can draw all day.

I often play Youtube videos on scientific subjects while I’m drawing, things like particle physics, theories on time and prehistoric homonids.

I get to work around 7:30 a.m., to enjoy an hour or so of posting and responding to my social media platforms, such as Youtube, Facebook, etc. Then I get started on my next book. I tend to stop around 4:30, to walk my always-overjoyed dog, Spencer. Then I usually continue after dinner for an hour or so. And I also work every weekend, but come Monday, I always wish I hadn’t!

Do you have personal techniques to get yourself into the deep-creative working mode?

Not really – however, I draw everything super fast for my first rough drawing, with a zillion sketch marks and smudges. It’s as if a hurricane hit my desk, and landed on my drawing paper. I feel that a swirl of energetic, unedited creativity translates to the the character.

FairyKnight-ChristopherHart

I draw the second and third drafts much more carefully.

After finishing a book, do you take time off? How do you de-stress?

No. I wish I could. Maybe if there’s time, I’ll grab a nectarine 🍊.

After finding huge success with these books, what has become more important to you and what has become less important?

Some aspiring cartoonists and artists come to my Facebook page and they are discouraged. They don’t have confidence in their drawing ability. Most of them have never recognized their strengths as artists; they only notice their shortcomings.

You can’t create in an atmosphere of unrelenting self criticism.

So when they send me images of their art for feedback, I like to point out the things that are working for them, so that they can focus on that as well, and feel good about themselves.

What cartoons did you grow up watching?

Pinocchio by Disney. Hands down. It was life changing.

Disney was literally the best filmmaker who ever lived, in my opinion. Few people see his work in totality: First sound cartoon, first color cartoon, first academy award winning cartoon, first full length feature cartoon, first cartoon shot to create as sense of depth (the multiplane camera), and hundreds of short and full length films to his credits.

Name another filmmaker who comes close to those accomplishments.

Very few authors read and respond to every email they receive. But you do. Why?

You’re right. Most authors have people they contract to sound like them and respond to readers. Most readers don’t realize it, and therefore, most people don’t realize that what I do is the exception. If someone goes to the trouble to buy my book and write to me, the least I can do is respond personally. I mean, you either value your readers or you don’t.

And the other reason is that, as I said, I have a certain way I like to respond to readers who need a little encouragement and guidance – without harsh criticism. I’m not sure someone else will have that sensitivity. My Facebook and Youtube platforms are place where aspiring artists can expect to feel appreciated.

What’s the worst advice that you hear often?

“Draw what you love and the money will follow.” This advice is a recipe for career disaster. I was told instead to:

Love what you’re good at.

There are a zillion actors in Hollywood pursuing what they love, and 95% of them are starving. You may love one genre of art, but if you excel at a different style, you may want to consider going in the direction the horse is already galloping.

What’s next for you (and your YouTube channel)?

Christopher-Hart-YouHackers-Drawing-Full

I have a very busy publishing schedule, and I am fortunate to be able to pursue so many ideas. I wish I knew more about Youtube marketing, but that stuff eludes me. I’ll keep putting out videos each week, and no one can stop me! Thanks for asking me to give this interview. It was fun.

Gear Info

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Connect with creator

Channel growth

3K

Subs/month

96K

Total subs

8M

Total views

1.3%

Sub rate

Time spent per video

0

Planning

4 hrs

Filming

Outsourced

Editing

0

Marketing

2 comments

  • michelleyvaje

    Hi Chris! Can i ask what is the purpose of the blue pencil in your videos? What brand are you using?

  • Daniel (YH)

    Christoper, thanks for sharing that! Random thought, but have you considered doodling in VR? I just read an article about Google Tilt Brush (i think that’s what its called…) may be interesting for you?