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Non-Traditional Ways To Learn Design

Study Logos

…not 1000 of them in a book (though those are useful and fun too)… take a logo a day and spend an hour just looking at it. Put it aside then look at it again later. Print it in black and white and in color. Post it everywhere. Then, just sit and stare at it again.
-Have more time? Take a couple hours to recreate it.


With an awesome amount of tutorials on just about everything on YouTube, it’s an ideal way to learn all kinds of tips and tricks for free. Need to beef up your Adobe Photoshop skills? You have to check out the “You Suck At Photoshop” series. It’s a little older but so entertaining to watch as a series!

Take Stock

Go to iStock, the site that is one of most designers’ best friends. Then, do 3 things… Go to the forum called “Designers.” Spend time there reading what people do, how they do it, how they solve challenges.

Then, look at the images on the main page. Study them. When you’re signed in and signed out, you get a different main page. Check both out. Check out the original files they used to make the iumages (they usually include a credit)… See what the designer changed, how they framed it… Is it centered, reversed?

Design Spotlight FTW!

And I’ve kept the best for last. An absolutely fantastic way to learn design, that most people have never even heard about or noticed, is on the same site… more specifically at

  1. Now, this is equivalent to weeks’ worth of education in a few minutes. Why? Because
    there are some amazing designers putting stuff up in the spotlight.
  2. you can see how things were designed for commercial appeal.
  3. and most importantly, you can see which files they used to make it, and how they got to the end result! This, for a new (or professional) designer, is invaluable. You can see how people use files, how little changes make huge differences, and really see the process to get to a product that we usually only see in its finished form.

Of course, the difference between professionals and amateurs at anything… Practice! Remember the 10,000 hour rule (which basically says that you can become an expert at just about anything with 10,000 of practice)… Now get out there and start learning!

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