How to craft clear explanations for complex ideas, a conversation with Lee LeFever

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LeeLeFeverportraitEver since I saw the first Common Craft video RSS in Plain English, I've been a huge fan of their work. The brilliance of Common Craft videos is that they explain complicated ideas in simple terms, usually in 3 minutes or less.

Explanation is often difficult for artists— whether talking about a single work, a collection, or even in terms of creating work that speaks clearly to the audience— So I wanted to get Lee LeFever's advice on how he and his wife Sachi find the simplest explanations for complex ideas. We also talked about how Common Craft videos are made, the scripting process, how a two person company scales (or doesn't) and the choices Lee and Sachi have made to intentionally remain small while growing their audience and their reach.

Lee LeFever is the founder and creative force behind Common Craft, which is known for their series of short animated in Plain English video explanations. Common Craft videos have been viewed over 25 million times and their unique whiteboard and paper cut-out format is recognized around the world. Since 2007 Common Craft has worked with companies like LEGO, Visa, Google and Intel and also licensed their own productions to Fortune 500 companies and educators in over 40 countries. Lee lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and business partner Sachi.

Learn More about Lee LeFever and Common Craft

  1. Visit Common Craft and see their videos:
  2. Connect with Common Craft on Facebook.
  3. Follow Common Craft on Twitter.
  4. Follow Lee on Twitter.
  5. Follow Sachi on Twitter.

Further Resources:

  1. Common Craft Blog: Erring on the Side of Happiness
  2. Common Craft Blog: Back Into the Custom Video Business

Show Highlights: Excerpts From the Conversation

Once the transcription is completed I'll include some of the best portions here.

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I'm best known as an artist and designer. Relaxing makes me tense, so I tend to put in a lot of hours on diverse projects.

On the way to a successful art career I've been a poet and writer, a tech geek, a print and web designer, illustrator, industrial designer, musician, teacher, actor, set designer and even a paid guru once.

It's all the same thing in the end— I wake up most days thinking about how I want to change, fix or improve some aspect of the world. And after a couple cups of coffee I get started on it.

My specialty is impossibility remediation: if it can't be done, I'm on it.

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