5 Resources For Continuing Your Graphic Design Education

Nubby Twiglet | 5 Resources For Continuing Your Graphic Design Education

One of the things I was most afraid of when I left my last agency job was losing my skillset and falling behind my peers. I now realize that it was just fear getting in the way. If anything, I now spend more time behind my computer doing actual design work than I did before! But it does raise a good point since graphic design is such a competitive industry.

Here are some ways you can keep your skills fresh whether you’re a recent graduate or long out of school:

1. Pick Up New Talents Through Skillshare

Skillshare’s about page begins with the bold statement of “Education is what someone tells you to do. Learning is what you do for yourself.” I couldn’t agree more. The ease of learning a new skill is great but equally wonderful are the affordable price points of their classes. So far I’ve taken Beyond the Logo: Crafting a Brand Identity and absolutely loved it.

Some other classes I’m interested in trying include Logo Design: Creating Custom Typography For Your Brand, Lettering For Designers: One Drop Cap Letterform at a Time and Get Stuff Done Like A Boss.

Skillshare goes on to say that “Your statement of accomplishment no longer needs to be a degree, certificate, or stamp of approval. Instead, frame the pictures you’ve taken, bake a cake, and wireframe your future website.” I’m onboard the Skillshare train…are you?

2. Subscribe to Lynda

If you’re new to the Adobe Creative Suite or want to pick up another program and dive really deep into the features, sign up immediately. Lynda has the most informative, step-by-step tutorials I’ve ever come across. When I was in school, we used Lynda in place of textbooks in my design classes and watching videos to learn Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign made a huge difference with comprehension. It’s affordable and will get you up to speed in a snap. A subscription gets you unlimited access to 2,385 video courses. Need I say more?!

3. Visit Creative Bloq

I subscribe to dozens of design blogs but for for articles with tons of on-trend design resources, I always visit Creative Bloq. It’s updated constantly with everything from the best places to find free vector art to tips to improve your portfolio.

4. Follow Smashing Magazine

When I want to learn more about design industry trends, especially on the interactive side of things, I stop by Smashing Magazine. Over my many years of reading, I’ve noticed that they’re always on the cutting edge of trends before they hit the mainstream. Their articles are really meaty — there’s never any filler or fluff, just extremely well researched content. A few of my recent favorites when it comes to articles include How To Create A Self-Paced Email Course, Selling Responsive Website Design to Clients and Mistakes I’ve Made.

5. Upgrade Your Adobe Software Suite

Until this year, I’d been running Adobe CS4 across all my machines. It worked just fine but I knew that I was missing out on a lot of the newer features. It’s part of my job to stay current with the programs and things had changed just enough that I felt myself slipping behind. A few weeks ago, I bit the bullet and signed up for the full year subscription which provides access to ALL of the CC programs at a hugely discounted rate. The advantage of a subscription is that you always have the most current versions at your fingertips and a device manager lets you know as soon as any upgrades are ready. And remember, if you’re running a business, it’s a tax write-off.

When it comes to design, the learning never stops. Since I began working in the industry seven years ago, I’ve watched trends come and go, cheered peers on while they rose through the ranks and held on for one wild ride as I dove into learning new skills.

In industries that are evolving at such a rapid pace, it’s important to not get too complacent. At the same time, working on the same types of projects day in and day out can lead to major burnout. By varying our resources and methods of learning, it’s easier to stay inspired. And these days, there are more opportunities than ever before to learn new skills without going into major debt.

What other methods and resources do you use when it comes to brushing up on your design skills? I’d love to know!

11 Responses to 5 Resources For Continuing Your Graphic Design Education

  1. Niamh says:

    Love this, thanks Shauna! ‘Beyond the Logo’ looks awesome.

    I’m not a graphic designer but I have a great interest in the area and am always looking to learn more.

    Do you have any tips for novices looking to grow their knowledge and skills?


    • Shauna says:

      Niamh: Tutorial sites are a great way to pick up tips but if you’re looking to go really deep and learn the programs inside and out, I recommend Lynda. Other than that, buy lots of books and magazines (Computer Arts is especially good), follow lots of design boards on Pinterest and subscribe to as many blogs as possible.

  2. Louisa says:

    Hi Shauna, great article! I too strongly believe the learning never stops. For software tutorials I usually use the Tuts Plus site – it has so many resources on there it’s unreal. For keeping on top of trends I always try to take myself outside the office and go to an exhibition, with the added bonus of meeting people too!

  3. Lisa says:

    I recently decided to invest in my skills with a Web Development course at General Assembly since everything I learned about Dreamweaver and Flash at college 5 years ago is totally outdated now!! While it was pretty pricey, it’s been so worth it and I’ve already started using the skills in client work. They also have tons of online resources for creatives and entrepreneurs.

  4. Kim says:

    I know I need to upgrade my CS but I can’t bring myself to get locked into their subscription service out of principle. I’m sure I definitely will give in a some point as like yo unsaid, you need to be up to date.

    • Shauna says:

      Kim: I totally understand — it’s a serious chunk of change and I got by for as long as I possibly could. After I upgraded my Mac software, some of the CS4 programs started having glitches and shutting down which was a huge issue with my workflow. Because I could write off the subscription as a biz expense and my programs were getting seriously out of date, I took the leap. Hope you can hold out longer than I did!

  5. Rebecca says:

    I love love love this article! Thank you Shauna. This is exactly what I need. I am always wanting to learn more and improve so will be following up these links ASAP.

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