Interview with Greg Burney of #DrawMyFollowers

Greg Burney's #DrawMyFollowers Project

If you’re an artist, and by artist I mean that in the broadest sense, how do you stand out in a world where everyone is an artist and has the ability to distribute their work easily and broadly? It’s a tough question, one that every artist grapples with and answers in a way that works best for them. For Greg Burney the answer was making drawings of his Twitter followers. For free.

I grabbed a few minutes of Greg’s time to ask him some questions about this project:

Rick Liebling: How important is personalization in something like this? Do you think you would have had the same response if you had offered just an original drawing, as opposed to an original drawing of each person?

Greg Burney: I think it’s absolutely essential that the drawings are of each person. This project is all about connecting to people in a personal way, and that would be totally lost if I offered them just an original drawing.

Rick Liebling: How important is “the story” in this? One guy trying to draw all these Twitter followers. That’s a different dynamic than artist sitting at the cafe, charging $10 for a quick sketch.

Greg Burney: I guess its a very simple premise. I’m not asking for anything, but offering something. I’m one guy, I’m not an illustrator, I’m rubbish at drawing, I’m working from home. I like to think its a nice, honest project that makes people smile and takes advantage of today’s immensely powerful social media.

Rick Liebling: I’m interested in the value exchange of this project. The followers receive a unique, personalized piece of original art. What are you getting from this project?

Greg Burney: A sore hand. No, it really is a buzz seeing people’s reactions. I like to think the little bit of happiness I give with every drawing accumulates to a massive impact. I also get many supporting messages every day and I have cool conversations with many of my new followers. It’s fun to be part of a huge project. The thought of it being finished is very exciting.

Rick Liebling: What would have been your response if a brand had approached you to be part of this in some way? Would you have been open to such a proposition?

Greg Burney: I’m not sure how I would react. I’d like to think I would say no. As soon as there are third parties involved, I no longer have 100% control of the project, and the premise stops becoming so simple. It might also lead people to be suspicious of what the real intention of the project is, fun or money. Saying that, if the right brand came along, perhaps one that supports illustrators, or large scale internet projects such as the wonderful Ze Frank, who knows.

Greg brings up several issues that perfectly illustrate why so many brands struggle with connecting with people online.  How many brands can create personalized engagements with each person? How many brands can create simple, honest engagements? How many brands looks to create engagements where the value generated goes to the consumer, not the brand? And what brand is willing to take the time to do more than just slap their logo on an idea, and really support the content creator?

I’m not saying it isn’t or can’t be done, I’m just saying that it is rare. But I think it’s a solid recipe for success.