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I Wish I Knew to Teach Myself Design

School will teach you 1. The software, 2. The principals or the foundations. School will not teach you tons of super dope techniques or how to deal with clients. Going to school did not allow me to teach myself design, but it sure did point me in the right direction!

In an industry that’s so deep and so wide, school is a must. There are plenty of art school dropouts and 100% self-taught designers, and I’m not knocking any of them. However, there are foundational things, design principles, that you just wouldn’t know to teach yourself if not for some veteran mentor.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blogs at all, you’ll know that I just started teaching design classes at Lone Star College CyFair. Last week in class, I happened to show them a somewhat old logo, and I brushed them off a bit, “Oh, y’all probably won’t recognize this one. It’s a bit before your time.” And many of them nodded their head that they did in fact recognize it.

 

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We got to talking about age, and I discovered I have a few students that are the same age as me! I thought they were going to all be fresh out of high school!

Anyhow, one of the students that’s my age stayed after and began to ask me how I knew so much about this field at such a young age, and to be honest, this is 100% why. I love this field of digital media and communications, I love to learn, and I’m hyper competitive. Combine those three, and I can’t help but teach myself design.

Whether or not you go to school, you can check out YouTube for techniques. You can find designer blogs to follow for the business side, or reach out to someone whose work you admire, and ask them a specific question. I’ve been following Jacob Cass and Chris Spooner since day one, and here in the last two years, I’ve added dozens to it, like Aaron Draplin, and Tad Carpenter. These people and their wealth of knowledge have allowed me to teach myself design as well as several other skills.

There are sites that sell design resources, like fonts, textures, and brushes, and then once they sell the files, they follow up with detailed tutorials to show you a few interesting techniques on how to make the most of them. I’m working on gathering a list of them to share with my students, and I plan on sharing them here as well.

There are other sites dedicated to high-quality tutorials. If you’ve been on YouTube searching for a tut for anything, you know the value here. Skillshare and Lynda are a few great ones, if you’re willing to invest a few dollars in yourself. Skillshare even provides some good content for free before you commit to jumping in, and you can start off with a discounted rate if you use this link.

School is extremely valuable to you in this field, but nothing replaces the self-driven student. It’ll show in your projects. Your peers will notice it, and so will your teachers. 90% of the techniques I’ve learned were by copying and looking up tutorials. Techniques, mind you – not foundational skills.

 

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This, in absolutely no way, is saying that you should not go to school. For the love of God, go to school. Get a degree. What I’m saying here is school isn’t the end all be all, and you have to reach for more. I’ll probably go back and write a bit about why going to school is important, but for now, on to the next post about just being yourself.

 

Anthony Gorrity
anthonygorrity@gmail.com
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