We love learning more about our talented Creators, and hope that you do, too! Join us for the first in an ongoing series of Community Q&As!
Illustrators, artists, and those looking to brush up on their design skills! Get to know Draw with Jazza (Josiah Brooks), a YouTuber offering free art/animation tutorials, lessons, and all around entertainment. He recently launched a brand new store on Teespring, showcasing a variety of designs from logos to catchphrases.
Journey with us as the renowned artist/illustrator offers an up close and personal peek into his career as a creator, his tips for staying focused, and insight into how Teespring brought him closer to his fans.
1) How did you get your start within the YouTube space? What prompted you to take your work to the platform?
I started with an older channel called ‘Jazza Studios’ about 8 years ago when YouTube was very new. I just threw everything on there – music videos, tutorials, gaming stuff, video shorts, etc. At the time I made a living out of Animation of Web-Game design, but that rapidly went down the drain when the iPhone came out and Steve Jobs denounced the Flash Player.
As a result I had to look to pivot my work, and noticed that tutorials on my YouTube channel did consistently well. After looking around the platform, I also realized there was pretty much NO decent art tutorial or entertainment content that was regularly produced. So I immediately got to work and started “Draw with Jazza”, a place where I could focus on art and animation, entertainment and tutorials.
Something I did at the time which I’m really glad for (in retrospect), is I included my face in every video and talked to the camera. No tutorials had that back then. Though I initially did it to facilitate communication and make my videos more engaging, it set me up to be able to take full advantage of YouTube’s evolution into a more personality-centered platform.
“ARTY OUTFIT” – July 2017 Challenge of the Month!
2) At what point did you decide to grow your passion into a business?
When I was about 12 years old. I went through different phases, making comic strips I wanted to get into newspapers, making animations I could sell merch from, making albums from my music, and games I could get sponsored. Nothing really picked up traction or made any money – I spent my young-adulthood living off of a diet of brown rice and tuna. But I’ve always wanted to turn my passion into a career, and my passion is art and entertaining people!
3) Did you face any challenges in doing so? If so, what steps did you take to overcome them?
Paying bills was the main challenge, making a living off of art is NOT EASY and starting from scratch is even harder. But at the end of the day if you’re willing to put in the hard yards (and years of them), then it’s a sure-thing. It sounds easy, but that’s the hard part. Back when I was permanently living off of my credit card and my house was in a horrible state of disrepair, (floors rotting, water-heater breaking, and with no money to fix it) the answer to most people would be to go get a job. Instead I worked every day and most nights and weekends, doing every client job I could find while building my profile and content at the same time.
Working at K-mart might keep the bills paid, but it also takes time. The more time you can dedicate to achieving what you really want in life, the more likely it is to happen.
4) As a creator with a very busy schedule, how do you stay focused on your work?
I try and have an overall perspective on the things I want to achieve in the coming months/years, while micro-managing my schedule on a task-by-task basis to get things done. For example when I worked on my book, I still needed to produce content for my channel, manage my online stores, community, competitions and sponsors. I generally dedicate 2-4 days a week to keep my YouTube channel rolling along, while dividing the rest of the week (and occasionally some over-time) to ebbing away at a bigger side-project. Such as a product, show, or content with a higher production value (like Virtual Reality art).
5) When did you decide to launch on Teespring? How has it impacted your business?
I’m a strong believer in diversifying revenue. When you want to make a living off of art you simply can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Ad revenue drops after December, Sponsors are irregular, and sales are unpredictable. But if you can establish a strong base in as many categories that are as natural to your content and audience as possible, it gives you the best chance to learn from how those platforms behave, and take full advantage of them. For example, having a sale or new product launch when ad revenue declines in the new year.
Teespring has been a part of that diversification for me, and one that fits very well with my desire to bring the culture and positivity of my content to my audience. It gets to act as a badge of honor or the relishing of an inside-joke we all made together. My fans get to support me, and they get something for it. As such, merch has become something I and my community love to enjoy and share.
6) Do you have any tips to share with up-and-coming creators?
WORK. WORK HARD. Beyond just working hard, you also need to work smart. Artists today will live, thrive, and die in a world dictated by social media, and it’s important to learn which platforms suit your content and ‘flavor’. Take advantage of the things that best compliment your work. I’m also a strong believer in quality – anybody in the world can start a merch store, YouTube channel, Facebook page etc. and not make a single sale or convince a single person to follow them. The difference is always in the quality, integrity and dedication. People are brilliant lie detectors, so they’ll know if you’re in it for a quick buck and won’t take a second glance.
My philosophy has been to follow my passions, be sincere, and don’t put a dollar sign on anything unless I want it myself and know it’s great quality. At the end of the day if you finally convince someone who likes your work to buy something you put out there, and they’re not satisfied…they’ll never buy from you again and will tell their friends to do the same. But if they get it and love it, treat them like royalty. Retweet them, tell them they look great or you’re thankful, put your heart in it and be thankful they trusted you. You’ll have a fan for life and someone who’ll want to support you well into the future. Our fans and community are our #1 priority, and they know that because we’ve shown them over many years of gratitude, passion, and communication.
7) What’s next for Draw With Jazza?
I have plans and hopes, but the reality of the industry I’m in – it’s completely unpredictable! MOST of the biggest moments that have happened and have drastically affected my business in the last year alone were completely unplanned or unexpected. I think my plans take a backseat when compared to my mentality about how to move forward. Make the most out of every moment and opportunity, be tenacious, and be confident (even if you don’t feel it on the inside, this is a scary industry and one that keeps changing)! Finally, always, always, always try and think 3 steps ahead as to how you can take your content to the next level!
Also VR. It’s coming like a freight train whether you know it or not. You can quote me on that late 2018 when the explosion really begins.