This is a special year for FableVision. We’re celebrating 20 years of designing and developing a wide array of engaging media that have inspired, taught, and moved people to action. Behind this mission-driven company is a team committed to creating positive media to help move the world to a better place – and at the helm of that team are our co-founders: Peter H. Reynolds, Paul Reynolds, Gary Goldberger, and John Lechner.
We sat down with John Lechner, Art Director and Co-Founder, to talk about this incredible milestone. His history with FableVision gives him a unique perspective on our approach to crafting educational media – and how we’ve kept pace with an ever-evolving industry over the years. “As our company grew and the animation world evolved, we went on to adopt new technology, enabling us to work on more award-winning interactives and web projects,” shares John. “We were always experimenting, always trying new things, and still are.”
Read up on all our anniversary celebrations on our website and stay tuned for more updates from the Drawing from Memory series!
What do you think is the secret ingredient for the success that FableVision has cooked up?
There are probably many answers, but I think the secret ingredient for FableVision is story. Human culture is founded on stories, they are how we understand the world and each other. Peter is a natural storyteller, and a natural story-listener. Even the most ordinary ideas are communicated more effectively through a story, and all our most successful projects have been based on storytelling.
Looking back 20 years ago when FableVision was first developing, what is the biggest piece of advice you’d give to your younger professional self?
As a young artist, I thought life was made up of distinct career paths, and once you chose your path, you had to follow it to completion. But life is much more unpredictable, especially in creative fields. You have to be open to new opportunities, new directions, and often you'll end up in a place that’s more interesting and rewarding than the place you thought you were going.
What have you learned from the various FableVisionaries you've interacted with over the past 20 years?
Working with so many creative people over the years, I have learned more things than I can count – game design, web design, storyboarding, animation, character design, programming basics, project management, and the list goes on. Every project I worked on was a learning experience, especially the most difficult ones. Most importantly, I learned how to work as a team and collaborate in a positive way.
What’s been one of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on at the Studio?
One of my favorite projects was the animated film The North Star, based on the book by Peter H. Reynolds. It was a beautiful story to animate. With narration by Tim Curry and music composed by my brother, Tony Lechner, it was the people behind the project who really helped pull it together
How has FableVision played a role in inspiring you to pair together your work as an artist and writer?
When I started working at FableVision, it opened up a whole new world of digital art and storytelling. The internet was still a new platform for reaching audiences, and we experimented with all kinds of creative projects online. Now I have so many more venues for telling stories than I did twenty years ago, it’s amazing.
How do you expect animation and educational media to evolve over the next 20 years?
With the explosion of new media over the last ten years, I think the biggest challenge now is not to create more elaborate experiences, but simpler ones. I like to think we will start focusing less on how the content is delivered, and more on what kind of stories we need to be telling.