John Avon is pretty much a legend in the world of fantasy and science fiction art. The man behind some of the most popular artwork for the phenomenally successful card game Magic: the Gathering, he previously produced book covers for authors such as Stephen King, Terry Pratchett and Arthur C. Clarke. John’s business recently ran a highly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund his new book ‘Journeys to Somewhere Else’. At John Avon Art, while John does the art, the other key member of the team is Guy Coulson. From art to crowdfunding to packaging to couriers, ParcelHero had a sitdown with Guy to find out more.
How did John Avon Art come about?
I took a redundancy package in 2011 and gave myself a few months to figure out what to do next. I wanted to invest some of my redundancy in a passion of mine – fantasy and science fiction artwork. I contacted several artists whose work I loved, seeking to buy original pieces. It turned out that John Avon lived just down the road from me. I met John, bought some of his paintings and realised there was a significant business opportunity. I am blessed in getting the chance to turn an interest into a business. John is obviously delighted too that his work is getting wider recognition and reward.
How would you describe the work of John Avon?
John and I are huge fans of Salvador Dali who said “Begin by learning to draw and paint like the old masters. After that, you can do as you like; everyone will respect you.” John mastered these techniques when quite young but enjoyed painting outside of reality. Applying his photorealistic ability to paint worlds of fantasy and wonder, John is now one of the world’s most in demand commercial fantasy artists.
Would you recommend crowdfunding?
Without hesitation. We approached banks earlier in the year for a smaller project where we had the product, manufacturer and distribution all in place, we just needed the cash to kick things off. Borrowing from the bank was extremely bureaucratic and expensive so in the end we funded it privately. Our Kickstarter exceeded all expectations and it was great fun. If anyone has a cool idea and the time and energy to run one I highly recommend it.
Was the book’s global delivery costs part of the fundraising?
Of course, global shipping is expensive, especially for a 1.6kg hardback book! ‘Journeys to Somewhere Else’ will be sent all across the world.
Why is communication so important for John Avon Art?
If I let my customers down I need to be able to tell them why. ParcelHero have in the past pro-actively called me when things have not been smooth – even when this is simply because one of your carriers has not been able to get a hold of my customer. In a just-in-time environment, communication is king. Of course there are many things beyond this, competitive pricing, reliability, simplicity of use. I also think your loyalty scheme is a nice added bonus.
What packaging materials do you use and where do you source them?
We buy padded envelopes and bubble wrap on eBay, almost always the cheapest and buy our postal tubes from defendapack.co.uk. They are cost effective, deliver very quickly and make very robust tubes in all sizes.
What’s next for John Avon Art?
‘Journeys To Somewhere Else’ is due to go to print before the end of the year and I am looking forward to getting everything out to our Kickstarter backers. If anyone is interested but missed the Kickstarter they can pre-order here http://johnavonart.com/kickstarter.html In November, John and I are also being flown over to New Jersey for a huge Magic: the Gathering convention where John is Guest of Honour. He hasn’t been over there for years so it’s causing a bit of a stir , hundreds or maybe even thousands of people are coming to see him. I believe there is a Magic The Gathering movie in the pipeline too, so that will be interesting. Maybe we can get John a cameo.