Episode 30: Ditching the Corporate Gig and Starting an Art Studio with Ben Lee

July 27, 2016

Hello Wannabes and Creators. Today on the show we have Ben Lee, president of Big Head Productions.

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Ben is an old friend. He went into business for himself almost a year ago, and I wanted to show you how somebody that is just getting started operates their business. Here is the intro letter from Ben’s site.

Greetings Interwebber,

First, thanks for visiting our site! We’re still a very young company, so while we’re still building, I thought a letter to you would be a nice way to introduce you to Big Head Productions.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering what Big Head Productions is? Well, at its core, it’s a publishing company. Our goal? Well, simply, to give you great stories, and hopefully give aspiring talent a stepping-stone to enter the industry.

See, years of going to conventions like the San Diego Comic-Con, and attending panels about breaking into the industry, there has always been one constant message…

…you don’t need anyone’s permission to make comics.

So with that, Big Head Productions was formed.

Starting this venture is not only to give myself a resource to publish stories rattling around in my brain, but any comic professional and/or aspiring creator will tell you, breaking into this industry is extremely difficult. And even with programs like DC’s Talent Development Workshop, they ask for previous publishing experience. And even then, getting a foot in the door to independent publishers is no easy task.

So like I mentioned earlier, in addition to publishing stories in my head, I do hope this venture will grow to where we can provide mentorship and an opportunity to publish to aspiring creators to get experience to competitive at a major publisher level.

So welcome to Big Head Productions: a place for great stories, creativity, and opportunity. I hope you like what you see with us, we got a lot of great things coming!

Sincerely Yours,

— Ben Lee

Storyteller & President of Big Head Productions, Inc.

Ben Used to work as an art director for a marketing and ad agency and had for years before he quit to form his own company last September. I’ve been following his story through my own social media accounts and wanted to show you guys how somebody just launching their business operates. It’s not polished. It doesn’t have a clear direction, but it’s raw and honest.

We talked a lot about his art. He’s trying to take on fewer clients now so he can focus on products. Products make the world go around in the long run. In the short run, they eat a lot of time and energy. Luckily, Ben talked about the extensive plan he had when he quit his job.

I love his strategy about writing a resignation letter and seeing how it makes you feel. You don’t have to send it. But see if that letter fills you with regret or joy and take it from there.

He also talked about looking up articles about when to quit your job. If looking up articles like that isn’t a good sign that you need to quit, then I don’t know what is one. However, he found one about the amount of time it takes to leave your job, and what you need to make sure you have to be prepared. It turned out Ben fit all those requirements, so he took the leap.

One thing I dug about Ben was his Indiegogo campaign strategy for his first comic book. He didn’t have the book done, so he had to make empathy with his audience by making them like him. How did he do that? By making the campaign focus on baby photos of him, talking about how he always wanted to make a comic. One thing people don’t do enough is to make people empathize with the creator of the book. They are very good at showing the book, but not why this book is important.

If you don’t like the creator of a piece of art, you probably won’t like the art itself. You can’t only rely on that empathy, but it’s a great place to mine especially if you don’t have a project finished.

Another thing I love is that ben isn’t shy to hang his work anywhere. He had a show in a furniture gallery for goodness sakes. One thing I admire about people like Ben and previous guest Angela Fullard (whose episode you can listen to by clicking here), is that they hang their art anywhere. While a gallery might not need or want you, there are plenty of businesses that would love great art. And then you can talk to the owners and build your business with corporate clients. I know nobody wants corporate clients, but they pay like 10-100x better than art world clients and they always need work.

In the end, this episode is great because it shows an artist trying to find his business. We talked a lot about stress and how to deal with the stress of a business, and how to make your business work. I saw a lot of myself in Ben. He wanted to figure it all out. Unfortunately, it always takes time. You have to learn what you know and learn the levers to pull in your business to make it function.

Ben has a lot of questions in this episode and when I prod him about certain things like a mailing list of marketing plan he’s definitely unsure about himself at times. But I think it shows a great portrait of a new business. I think it shows how hopeful we can all be when we start something.

Ben had a great plan and I really hope it all works out. I plan on coming back to this again in the future to show how Big Head has progressed, whether their plan works out or they have to pivot. For me, it’s all about pivoting. How fast can you fail, how often can you pivot, and how much can you do to succeed.

I love one thing Ben said above everything else. I’m paraphrasing, but it was basically “I’m 38 and single. If not now, when.” I couldn’t agree more. 

You can find Ben online at www.yellowrant.com and www.bigheadprod.com.

Enjoy the episode.

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One comment on “Episode 30: Ditching the Corporate Gig and Starting an Art Studio with Ben Lee

  1. “Very neat post.Thanks Again. Will read on…”