Friday, October 23, 2015

The First Step To Being Self-Taught

... is, quite naturally, throwing out the idea that you need formal training to do things.

I know that sounds self-evident, but it just dawned on me this week. I've struggled for a long time with the desire to do design work for web, image and video while knowing that I don't have the time or desire to attend classes. Philosophically, I've always believed that people can be self-taught and do well and have even done it myself with coding, but art and design have always felt like something impossible without classes.

It recently occurred to me that for the past 5 or so years, I've been creating presentations at work that are wildly different and more creative than anything else anyone at work is doing. This isn't egotistical, it's a sign that I spent time making the medium the message in my web 2.0 evangelization. I've grown to hate PowerPoint and it's flat and bland bullets-plus-images presentations. I love the ability to add links, buttons, videos and more that I get from Adobe InDesign.

I taught myself the InDesign techniques for creating interactive content and now use it as much as possible. My presentations are all embedded on websites and as full of motion and external content as I have time to make them. What's escaped me because of my own timidity is the traditional artistic design portion. Colors, layouts, shapes, image selections, I've had this mental block wherein I was convinced that only someone who has attended formal classes could do these things with confidence.

Nonsense! Gaining proficiency at the skills to make such design choices is no different than learning PHP, MySql, InDesign or anything else. Thanks to the web, if you want to learn stuff like this, all you have to do is dive in an start reading and watching.

I thought that this was the only way you could learn color theory.


Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you.

From someone who studied design at a shmancy design school.

BTW, I could not get to that presentation you recommended about the perfect job...

ZZMike said...

Part of the ability to do those things is the ability to 'think outside the box'. To do that first requires the ability to think, which can be taught - if it's not squashed early on.

K T Cat said...

Anon, I'm sorry that the link didn't work for you. The two big takeaways were:

1. Get over the notion that there is such a thing as the perfect job. Every job is going to have unpleasant aspects and expecting them not to be there creates unnecessary disappointment.

2. The people you work with matter more than you might think. The person who was giving the talk said that she followed the team she was working with from one project to another because they were what mattered even more than the job.

Anonymous said...

Already knew that -- more important to me than "what I do" is with whom I'm doing it. I KNOW there's no "perfect" job.

My crappy jobs are the ones where I really don't like the people I work with. I start off all happy and thinking these will be a great "team." Bah.

The jobs I have loved have had to do more with the people I worked with. But then, the "team" got broken up, for a variety of reasons.

My current job sucks. I have grown to despise the people I work with. My superviser is an idiot. And she effectively isolates me from other people. I have no opportunity to work with anyone else. I'm also the one who has to deliver bad news, while she gets to swan in and say, "Oh, sure, we can do that."

I enjoy doing certain things, sure. But if I do them with clowns, it's misery and torture.

Though... It also helps to have some sort of intellectual stimulation. I might clean floors with the nicest, friendliest people in the world, but I'll not be happy if I have nothing pushing me intellectually. (And frankly, being a temp was fun and interesting, and usually sufficient intellectually stimulating to enjoy, though I can't afford to do it now...)

I really do not have to find fulfillment or some sort of self actualization through work. I just don't want to HATE MY JOB. I am not searching for a "perfect" job. I just don't want to spend forty hours a week resenting being there, and the seven and a half hours of my morning commute dreading the coming day. And that's where I am now...

K T Cat said...

I can understand that. I was going through something similar about 3-4 years ago. The team I worked with was great, but management decisions were dreadful.