Is there anything more captivating than watching people do things that they deeply love? Maybe that’s why YouTube videos of talented artists showing the how-to process are getting so popular. Illustrator Mark Crilley and artist Stan “Proko” Prokopenko both on their own managed to build large audiences and grow their personal brands.

Their high-quality content generates millions of views and receives the warmest feedback from kids to aspiring artists, who are willing to learn and perfect their drawing skills. Talents like them maybe will never gain as much followes as Smosh, because it’s rather unlikely in the art insruction category, but still their work captures the heart of many and boosts their brands. So, how they killed it on YouTube? Let’s find out.


Watch me draw

Mark Crilley’s first video came out 9 years ago. Back then the professional artist with an interest to manga just released his comic book called ‘Miki Falls’ and looked for ways to promote it. Instead of trying to convince people to buy it he started a series of instruction videos, where he showed his drawing style and explained his technique step-by-step. There wasn’t anything extraordinary in his videos, on the contrary just a hand holding a pencil under a piece of paper. He was showing the whole process of creation, accompanying it with unscripted conversation. However, people saw incredible beauty in simplicity and got mesmerized by Crilley’s artistic skills.


Illustrators. Artists. YouTube


Growing success of his YouTube videos got him thinking about creating an art instruction book. ‘Mastering Manga’ got published in 2010 and became the basis for a lucrative series. The number of followers quickly jumped from hundreds to thousands and millions, which he could monetize. Mark admits that publishing is his main business, however his estimated yearly earnings proves his generating a good revenue from YouTube even if he’s not posting as frequently as he used to before.

Unlike Mark, Stan Prokopenko, better known as ‘Proko’, prefers traditional art and humorous approach to videos. At first Stan was publishing his tutorials on his official website, but in 2012 he decided to try it on YouTube. He admits that he was “overwhelmed with excitement”, but also felt the need to make publishing videos regular in order to succeed. Due to his polished style, it required a lot of effort. His 7-8 minutes tutorials aren’t one of those you want to run through, on the contrary they are too fun to watch. At the same time his videos offer proper instructions and advice suitable for every stage of a learner.


Illustrators. Artists. YouTube


Stan got so wrapped up with this, he could stay up for 30-40 hours straight. However, he eventually understood that this much enthusiasm without much of a sleep might lead to burning out.

The list of his followers were continually growing, so in order to produce enough of high quality  content he needed to hire a team of pros: an editor, an animator and others, which help Stan to shoot more instructions. Together they made a DVD, which included all the art courses with his unique and accurate techniques people love so much.

Although he admits that his YouTube revenue isn’t big enough to pay the bills, a chance to sell the premium version of his art courses only became real thanks to the popularity of free online videos. So, he’s not abandoning social media, vice versa he’s looking forward for Facebook video program expansion, which might offer even more opportunities.

Aside from these two there’s a whole bunch of other cool and talented YouTubers that teach drawing techniques each in their own way. The list of them is only growing, however, it’s not surprising. Entering a tight fine art market by selling art works is harder than ever. And when digital market offers so many possibilities to build a business and make a decent living for an artist, it’s stupid not to try.

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