Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.
Who’s that animated man making cheeky videos on YouTube? It’s Alex Clark!
Clark, who has made videos since 2009, is the man behind the ItsAlexClark YouTube channel, where each video tells its own story. Clark, who is partnered with Studio71 and also performs live, engages viewers by retelling awkward or glorious moments, particularly from his childhood. His simple, colorful animation style allows his work to shine on screen, and his audience has shown its appreciation for his work. He now has more than one million subscribers, so we spoke with him:
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have more than one million YouTube subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?
ItsAlexClark: It’s absolutely exciting. Everyone starts their channel dreaming of the day they hit 1 million. To wake up and see that you actually did it is a surreal accomplishment. I feel forever indebted to every single one of my subscribers for choosing to let me live this dream job. I try to respond to as many emails and comments as one man can — so I’m sure they already know this — but I’m always around if you ever need anything. I also have to thank my girlfriend PamOnSunset for throwing me the best surprise party of my life!
TF: What is your animation background like, and who are your major influences?
AC: When I was a kid I wanted to be an animator because I loved Aladdin. I took some figure drawing classes where you had to draw nude models, and I thought, this is weird, I’m 11. I later realized what I liked about Aladdin was how funny Robin Williams was. I started performing comedy and later started posting cartoons as a way to build an audience for my live performances. The only schooling I had was a few youtube tutorials and I kept learning from there.
I pull influence from everywhere. The hardest part of my job is how many cartoons I have to watch! Bahahha. But my favorite stuff to watch for inspiration is The Loud House, Gravity Falls, and anything animated by Studio Joho. I’m also SUPER excited for Olan Rogers‘ TBS show Final Space. I wish they had called me to voice some characters – it’s just going to be amazing. I also love Bob’s Burgers, South Park, and anything Pixar or Illumination Entertainment…I WANT TO VOICE CHARACTERS FOR YOU.
TF: Why do you think your channel has been able to grow so quickly in recent months?
AC: Ohhhh man…There were a few days this fall when over 50,000 people decided to subscribe every day. I took a few jabs at Logan Paul that week for getting more subs than him. I think he’s a good guy, it’s just kind of sad he doesn’t make more money. Anyways, two months later and we’re up to 1.7 million subscribers and going strong.
I think a major part of that success is due to expanding my team. Because of the help of a few great animators and editors I went from posting videos about once a month to twice a week. They’re all so talented and only add to what we’re able to accomplish. They’ve really let me focus on the storytelling aspect of producing the videos, which is another factor of our success.
TF: What’s your favorite part of being a member of the YouTuber community?
AC: I love seeing how diverse the YouTube community is. Some people run their channel as a one-man shop, and others turn it into a respected multi-million dollar company. So my favorite part is that their are no barriers to entry except for yourself. If you work hard, keep playing the game, and learn what works and doesn’t work — you will definitely succeed. It may not be an overnight success, I don’t think anyone watched my videos for the first three years I made them, but if you don’t give up and you do push yourself — amazing things will happen for you.
TF: Animation is thought of as a hard genre to live off on YouTube because of the expense and time commitment required for individual videos. How do you deal with those issues?
AC: I don’t feel a sense of accomplishment until I look at my watch and realize I haven’t gotten up from my computer in over 10 hrs. I think because of that mentality I’ve never found it hard to produce animated content. I actually find it really fun to figure out how to tell a story — or how to animate a scene in a fun and compelling way…or maybe I just think its fun to sit in the same chair until my butt hurts. Either way I generally stay at my desk for 12 hours a day to animate videos.
That said, it can get really time consuming to animate. One of the major things that helped was switching all of our animation over to Toon Boom Harmony. It’s the same program they use to animate shows like South Park and Family Guy and it has a lot of features that help expedite the animation process. I couldn’t do this job without it. If you’re reading this and interested in animating, I highly recommend it, it’s the absolute best program and has great student pricing. Then watch Stylus Rumble and OnionSkin, they have great tutorials.
There are so many great animation channels right now. I’m surprised any of us are able to pull it off, but I’m inspired that so many have that passion to make it work.
TF: For the stories from your personal past, do you ever embellish to make them more exciting for viewers?
AC: I knew this question was coming…. OYYY. All I can say is of all the stories we’ve ever told only one of them is 100% made up, and I will never ever tell which one. I’M TAKING IT TO MY GRAVE! In general though, we try to keep things real to life — made up stories are for movies and TV. YouTube is more of a personal experience. I feel like my viewers are more than just fans but also friends. What kind of friend would I be if none of my stories were true?
TF: What do you think are the critical elements of a good story?
AC: One of my favorite comments to receive is “I LOVED THIS STORY. IT WAS SO RELATABLE.” We end up getting that one a lot and it’s a great place to start.
From there I’m going to steal some advice I got from watching the South Park documentary Six Days To Air: The Making of South Park. At some point Trey Parker says something like, “The Rule of replacing and with either but or therefore.” The main point was that writers often describe a story as “this happened and then this happened and then this happened.” It’s not that engaging. It’s way better to use buts and therefores. “This happened but then this happened therefore this happened.” That advice really clicked for me and I’d say some of my most engaging videos have a but or therefore every 30 seconds.
I’ve got a few other tricks – email me for the rest 🙂
TF: Are there any ways you feel your live performing experience has informed your strategy on YouTube?
AC: It still surprises me that most people don’t know I perform live. I actually have performed in seven countries (have received parking tickets in eight) and that was all before YouTube. When I was 15 I saw a funny juggling street performer and I thought – what a great job – no rules – just kinda do whatever you want + you get to see the world. From there I started performing at colleges and fairs with agents like Bass-Schuler and GL Berg Entertainment (I LOVE THOSE GUYS!)
With all that stage time I got really great at crafting a joke and that’s definitely helped me when writing stories. I absolutely love it when fans show up to shows – its the greatest compliment and getting face to face time is one of the highlights of my career. I’ve had a few fans invite me over for dinner, and others drive hours just to see one show. Thank you thank you thank you. That’s the motivation my butt needs to sit in that chair for one more day.
TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?
AC: We just started doing live videos once a week because we wanted to add a more personal touch to the channel beyond cartoons. We’re also working on a few different pitches for television and film projects. I love telling stories on YouTube and don’t see that stopping but I think with the right team – doing something huge would be exhilarating. I’m also always on the look out to voice over on other projects – so if you hear of anything tell people they can flatter me with ice cream and pizza and Nintendo Switch games.