Updated: May 24
A traditional university education - especially for design - is no longer the only option you have to learn new skills. Self-taught graphic designers are plenty, because in the creative field, your work acts as your credentials. Below I've compiled 8 resources for how to get started in graphic design.
No matter what your reasons are for not pursuing a degree in design, there’s plenty of resources available at your fingertips to teach yourself the skills you need to succeed.
Note that this post isn’t to discount the value of a university education. The purpose of this post is simply to inform you of the multitude of alternatives!
Skillshare is an online learning platform with online classes taught by experts in their respective industries. It’s a huge knowledge resource for any topic, and design is no exception. Not only is it affordable ($8.25/month if you’re billed annually!), but it’s promoted so often by influencers now that you can probably find yourself a shiny discount code from one of your favorite YouTubers.
If you can’t afford a monthly subscription yet, there’s options such as Udemy.com, where you can buy courses a-la-carte starting at $12.99.
YouTube these days is a wealth of knowledge full of tutorials, discussions, and inspiration. This resource helps you learn and practice your craft - plus, creators themselves usually have customized resources available to their followers.
My favorite channels:
Flow Graphics, a Graphic Designer from Brisbane, Queensland.
Marc Brunet, a channel about digital painting on Adobe Photoshop.
Spoon Graphics, a channel on Photoshop & Illustrator design tutorials.
As with any skill, books are a timeless resource for knowledge. I derived a lot of my personal knowledge as well as inspiration solely from reading. Audiobooks are also a great alternative, and you can listen to them on the bus or in the car. Personally, I read a lot of books on the Kindle app since it's the most accessible and I can save my highlights as notes.
For a full list of book recommendations, check out 6 Graphic Design Book Recommendations.
Learning through working experience is less risky than a non-paid internship and can be more flexible, too. It gives you the power to choose what kind of work you want to explore, since you’re choosing your own assignments.
Doing non-profit graphic design work will not only help you practice your design with a specific brief, but you’ll also learn about the balancing the needs of the client and your opinions as a designer. Just make sure you draw your boundaries when doing work for free!
Decide ahead of time how much work you’re willing to do, and how often, and get permission early to include all or part of it in your portfolio. Your professional goal for pro-bono work should be to learn.
With learning through free tutorials available on creative blogs, you can practice on your own time and learn through doing, which is the best way to learn. This resource is not only specific and easily referenced, but blog posts usually point to additional resources you can continue your learning with.
My favorite design blogs:
Everyone learns differently and it’s likely that a combination of options will work best for you. How did you, or how are you, learning graphic design? Did I forget any other resources? Let me know in the comments below!