DTD Podcast 12 – Interview with Stan Prokopenko – From Artist to Entrepreneur


FULL DISCLAIMER: Stan Prokopenko was kind enough to offer a 25% discount on any of the video courses offered on his site by entering coupon code:

driventodraw  –  at checkout on his website www.proko.com

I do not receive ANY commissions for these sales.  I make suggestions based on my own opinion and spread content that I believe to be of high value and top notch education.  The production quality of the material is some of the finest I have ever seen.  Check out his free lessons on Youtube  and you’ll understand why and his premium content is even better. 

DTD Podcast 12 – Youtube Anatomy Artist Sensation! Interview with Stan Prokopenko

Often times when I see people on Youtube that I find interesting with a high degree of talent, I wonder what drives them to accomplish so much.  Stan Prokopenko, an artist and entrepreneur, is one of those special guests, that has completely exceeded my expectations on all fronts!  He debunked the “Starving Artist” stereotype and  epitomizes what most of us would consider being a “success.” Which is enjoying and loving what you do and bringing impactful change to peoples lives in the form of art education.

This is an interview that will not only focus on Stan’s journey to become a Master in the Art of Drawing/Painting but also his quest to provide people with top notch education in the visual arts.  It’s a fascinating journey where he discusses all his successes, failures, influences, and other talents he has been able to leverage, to create a successful business in Art Education.

Stan is incredibly humble and I can’t thank him enough to providing so much of his time to do this interview. I am sure you will enjoy this!

Topics of Discussion:

  • Discussing the Artwork 
    • Chopping Lessons
    • Pride
    • Brothers
    • Sunset Walk
    • Life and Death Series
    • Process of creating his art work: QUOTE: “If someone has 6 hours to chop down a tree, they’ll spend 4 hours sharpening their saw”
      • Thumbnail sketches
      • Research
      • Rhythm and gesture studies
      • Exploring color
      • Execution
  • The Process for Creating a Painting or Illustration
  • Stan’s Book Collection – Best Anatomy and Art Books to add to your collection
    • Andrew Loomis – Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth
    • Andrew Loomis – Drawing the Head and Hands
    • Richard Schmid – Alla Prima II – Everything I Know about Painting and More
    • Richard Schmid – The Landscape
    • James Gurney – Imaginative Realism
    • James Gurney – Color and Light
    • Dr. Paul Richer – Artistic Anatomy
    • Gottfried Bammes – Complete Guide to Life Drawing – Great book for “structure” of anatomy
    • Bridgman’s – Complete Guide to Drawing from Life
    • Human Anatomy for Artists – Eliot Goldfinger
    • Norman Rockwell – Behind the Camera – Great book on how he uses his photo references and Enhances the image through this painting
    • J.C. Leyendecker
    • Basil Gogos
    • Steve Huston
  • Stan’s Journey to become a Professional Artist
    • Early influences and his early love for drawing
    • Love for Animation in High School – Featured Animation Short Story on American Airlines
    • His parents reaction to wanting to become an artist
    • Teaching at the Atelier – (french for “Art School”)
    • Entering Art Competitions to build credibility
    • Artists that inspired Stan – “The Academic Style”
    • Challenges with teaching students
  • Getting a Following on Social Media to Sell Artwork
    • Is it more difficult to get your name out there with all the competition?
  • Putting the pieces together for PROKO.COM!
    • Love for making movies at a young age
    • Interest in Computer Programming and connecting the dots with this expertise later
    • The Failed Business prior to Proko.com:
      • Building Taco websites!
      • Nursing Scrubs Clothing Line (Yes..you read that right)
      • Clubless Now: Promoting Dance Clubs
      • Prokofolio: promoting websites for other artists
  • Success with Proko Youtube Channel in August, 2012. 
    • Gaining 100’s of thousands of views off of his first 3 videos.
    • Production quality and using special effects
    • Building a quick website to gain subscribers
    • Monthly revenue that helps to fund the website and hire other professionals
  • How the “Jack of All Trades” mentality helped to build his business
    • QUOTE:  “You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards.”
    • How your collected skill sets can help you bootstrap  your business
    • Focussing on a single idea and being consistent in execution
    • Using the 10,000 hour expert rule to carry through to other skills
    • Speaking multiple languages to communicate with employees
    • Other examples of individuals using engineering backgrounds to build unique airline furniture
    • Book: Mastery by Robert Greene
  • How proficient can one get by learning strictly online?
    • Treating online video as a supplement to books and other courses
    • The importance of continuous learning
    • Struggles with everyday critiquing
    • Improvements needed to make online training more effective
      • Community building
      • Feedback loop
      • Issues with receiving critique from the wrong people
    • Success of Khan Academy
      • Combining online training with a classroom setting
    • Level Up Facebook Fanpage – Concept Artists that provide critiques
  • Using Digital Tools vs Analogue
    • Is there an advantage to learning only digital tools
    • Learning drawing the “RIGHT” way – Nail down those Basics!
    • Motor Skill development
    • Differences in using digital tools vs hand tools
    • Discipline to plan your artwork with digital tools
    • Remember…Digital Mediums are JUST  TOOLS!
  • Process for Creating Epic Youtube Videos
    • How long does it take to create one of your videos?
    • Using Special FX software to aid in the learning “experience”
    • Systematizing the process flow
    • Writing Scripts
    • 3D Animation – Timing and Rendering of animated sequences
    • Interacting with SKELLY
  • Future of Proko.com
    • The vision of Proko.com
    • Taking a student from beginner to advance strictly from online resources
    • Using Apps to aid in your artistic development – SKELLY APP – Pose-able Model to help in your drawing
      • Using MAYA for 3D skeletal system
      • Creating dynamic muscle movement with apps
      • Using Gaming Engines
      • Using the App with Proko’s Anatomy courses
    • Children’s book author using the App to create story boards for her book
  • Recommended Books:
    • Drawing the Head and Hands – Andrew Loomis
    • Figure Drawing for all It’s Worth – Andrew Loomis
    • Successful Drawing – Andrew Loomis
    • Figure Drawing – Michael Hampton
    • Vilppu  Drawing Manual – Glenn Vilppu
    • Human Anatomy for Artists – Eliot Goldfinger
    • Artistic Anatomy – Dr. Paul Richer
    • Anatomy for Artists – Sarah Simblet
    • Strength Training – Frederic Delavier
    • Constructive Anatomy – George B. Bridgman
    • Imaginative Realism – James Gurney
    • Color and Light – James Gurney
    • Alla Prima II – Richard Schmid
    • The Art Spirit – Robert Henri
    • Drawing People – Barbara Bradley

Free Educational Content on Stan’s Youtube Channel:

Proko Youtube

Premium Educational Instruction from Stan: (More in-depth videos)

Recommended Courses to Start with: 

Stan recommends the Figure Drawing Course as it includes a lot of fundamental concepts to start with.  If interested, you can check out the course here:

Note from Proko.com Website:
“Videos are uncensored. Beware of private parts.
This is an active course – I post new lessons as I finish them, once every 1-2 weeks. You can do the assignments with other students on the Facebook Group.”


Coupon Code

Proko Coupon Code

Tools from Stan:

I bought this app a couple months ago and love it.  Think of it as the digital version of your wooden pose-able figure!

It has a tremendous amount of thought put into it that optimizes the usability factor allowing you full pose-ability and the ability to change your light

source.  It’s a terrific tool for not only artists, but people interested in manga, superheros, animators, etc..  click the image for a full description.







Stan’s Work:

SP_Newsprint_Sketch SP_Newsprint_Sketch_2 SP_Newsprint_Sketch_6_life_and_death SP_Newsprint_Sketch_3SP_Newsprint_Sketch_7 SP_Newsprint_Sketch_8_life_and_death



























































































Painting_2 Painting_3 Painting_4 Painting_5 Painting_6 Painting_7
























































































    • Watts Atelier of the Arts, Encinitas, CA (2002 – Present)
      Courses in Head Drawing, Figure Drawing, Quick Sketch, Plein Air Painting in Oil, Portrait in Oil, Illustration, Storyboarding, Anatomy, Facial Expressions, Caricatures, Environmental Design, Perspective, Composition, Animal Sketching, Gouache and many more specialty courses.

    Teaching Experience

    • Watts Atelier of the Arts, Encinitas, California (2007 – Present)
      Courses Taught: Portrait Drawing, Portrait Painting, Drawing and Painting from Photographs, Figure Quicksketch, 20-Minute Figure Lay-ins, Oil Painting Essentials, Plein Air Landscape Painting, Painterly Drawing, and Introduction to Tonal Drawing
    • Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego, California (2009 – Present)
      Courses Taught: Drawing and Painting the Portrait

    Gallery Representation

    • Gallery Russia, Scottsdale, Arizona (October 2010 – Present)
    • The Julian Art Gallery, Julian, California (January 2010 – Present)
    • Art Europa Gallery, San Diego, California (2007 – 2010)


    • OPA 19th National Juried Exhibition, Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona (2010)
    • Art in The Pines Art Festival, Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California (2010)
    • Julian and the San Diego Back Country: A Centennial Exhibition of the California Art Club, The Julian Art Gallery, Julian, California (2009)
    • Taste of Russia, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, San Diego, California (2009)
    • Images of the Figure, Boehm Gallery at Palomar College, San Marcos, California (2009)
    • Influences, Art Institute of California, San Diego, California (2008)
    • Instructor Show, Berringer Gallery, Encinitas, California (2008)
    • Group show with SDDG, Art Produce Gallery, San Diego, California (2007)
    • Drawing: More or Less, Art Institute of California, San Diego, California (2006)
    • Presidential Scholars in the Arts, Smithsonian Institute: American Art Museum, Washington D.C. (2004)


    • Member’s Choice Award, OPA 19th National Juried Exhibition
    • 2nd Place, Art in The Pines 2010 Plein Air Competition
    • California Art Club Centennial Logo Competition Winner
    • Presidential Scholar in the Arts
    • Level 1 Winner , NFAA ARTS Awards
    • Winner, 2003 International Student Media Festival in Anaheim
    • Overall Winner, 22nd Annual Congressional Art Competition in Washington D.C.
    • Achievement Award for Fine Arts, Bank of America


    • Oil Painters of America (2010)
    • Portrait Society of America (2010)
    • American Impressionist Society (2010)
    • California Art Club (2009 – Present)
    • West Coast Drawing Group (2006 – 2009)


    • California Art Club (2010)
    • Seven Days (2005)
    • KPBS, Featured in a Documentary (2004)
    • Imagine Magazine, wrote “My 3D World: Adventures in Computer Animation” (2004)
    • YoungArts Magazine (2004)
    • San Diego Union Tribune “Mt. Carmel senior makes his mark as scholar” (2004)
    • San Diego Union Tribune “High school student’s film dream takes off” (2004)
    • USA Today (2004)
    • Corridor News (2004)
    • Who’s Who Among American High School Students (2001/2002)