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Home » Art, Cartoons, Interviews

Interview – Learn Something Every Day

Submitted by admin on May 5, 2010 – 5:20 amNo Comment

What a lovely idea from some lovely people. Every day visitors to their site send them facts, and they pick one to turn into an illustration. Manchester based design agency Young have signed a deal with Penguin to turn their website, Learnsomethingeveryday.co.uk into a book. The creators of the site, Geth & Pete kindly took the time to answer some questions. apr16_web

So many ideas are tossed about in the pub – what made you guys to decide to stick with this one?

We liked this idea because of its simplicity and it seemed to tick all the boxes as to what we were trying to do (something fun that was updated frequently so that it would keep our company in people’s minds). A lot of companies have blogs and only talk about themselves, this can get tiresome and being a new design studio without much to talk about, this wasn’t for us. The ’styling’ came as easy as the idea, the next day we drew a couple of doodles, scanned them in and added some bright colours.

With many people attempting to harness the power of the blogosphere, twitter, facebook etc, it is easy not to know where to begin.How did you manage to attract 10,000 hits a day after just a couple of weeks?

We’re not completely sure how this happened. One of the things that contributed was updating our company website with new work. We got in touch with some design blogs to let them know – we didn’t mention Learn Something Every Day in our emails, we had a link to it on our company’s website and most of them picked up on it. We’re still amazed how quickly it took off, we added google analytics to the website so that we could monitor where the visitors were coming from. It was interesting to see the numbers grow in countires other than in the U.K. Our company’s twitter account started building up followers too, so we decided to integrate the updates using the account, we now have around 6000 followers.

Could you explain the process of coming up with the idea all the way to getting a deal with Penguin?

It wasn’t in our original plan to turn it into a book, it all happened organically; On August the 1st with a few doodles ready we uploaded the first to the website. Within a couple of weeks British design blogs started sharing the site, later spreading globally. I think the main factor to its popularity is that people shared the website on social media sites thus leading to a wider audience other than designers and illustrators. Out of the blue we began reciveing emails from publishers. One of the first offers was from a a publisher in France wanting to create a desktop calendar, the same week we also recived an email from a literary agent in New York, expressing his intrest in representing us as he thought he could get it sold in the U.S. After a few phone conversations with the agent (Jason Ashlock of Moveable Type Literary Group, N.Y) we realised we were out of our depth and knew nothing about the publishing industry, it was best to leave it to the professionals! As far as we know Ashlock got in touch with a few of the New York’s publishing houses resulting in a bidding war between some global players (Harper Collins, Chronicle and Penguin) all wanting world wide rights for the book, in the end we decided to go with Penguin as they offered the best deal for our situation, allowing us to maintain rights for the merchandising of the product – so on top of the book deal we’ve also signed a few desktop calendar deals.

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How many submissions do you get every day?

We recieve about 20 fact submissions a day.

How do you decide on which ones to illustrate?

It’s not something that we spend a lot of time on as we have our design studio to run, we usually open up an email at random and start doodling.

Favourite fact?

We’re both really into the Beatles, so we try to squeeze one in here and there – so maybe one of them. I think one of our most popular is ‘bananas share around 50% of DNA with humans’ – as we’ve sold quite a few of them on Tshirts.

Most bonkers fact you’ve received?

There’s been a few – we once had an email from a guy asking us to draw his marriage proposal to his girlfriend!

Do you spend much time validating the information people send you?

At first we weren’t as cautious as we had no idea how big Learn Something would become, in our minds it was just something we set up as self promotion – but seeing as it’s turned intosomething else we now feel obligated to research the facts thoroughly.

Obviously it is a very sweetly rendered project and the illustrations are hugely endearing. What do think it’s value is? What’s the point?

I think people like it because it’s instant and isn’t pretentious. We’re not claiming that they’re amazing doodles and they’re not the type of facts that you need to know; I think it’s mostly a welcomed two minute break from office work, like going on youtube or facebook.

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