The most successful creatives understand there are always new skills and techniques to learn.
You want to learn a new skill? Learn.
Why are some creatives great at what they do? Simply, they dedicate the time to learn their craft—especially the fundamentals.
A logo designer becomes great at designing logos because they studied the fundamentals that form a great logo. A copywriter can write a 1000 words in 10 minutes because they learned the fundamentals, then practiced and wrote daily.
Here’s the crux of this article nice and early for you…
Learning is the fundamental step to become a better creative.
You can only improve by first making the choice to improve. Once you make that choice, dedicate hours towards learning, choose what you want to practice and take ownership over what you achieve. This kind of development is one way to build your own happiness and avoid becoming reliant on others.
Before diving into this list, remember we all learn at different rates and some methods are easier or preferred over another. These methods are just the five most effective ways that have helped me go from shy-creative to confident-creative. I want to you to become the same.
Once you treat learning as a thing do, expect great results. To edge closer to those results, read on to find out the five overlooked ways to continue your creative growth.
Search and Listen to a Handful of Experts
Do you sometimes feel intimidated by someone’s seniority?
Without a doubt there is an expert in your field with 10-15 years experience. There’s valuable knowledge, a history and an incredible amount of wisdom to learn here. You just need to first want to seek out this knowledge by searching for the right expert, then listen.
Now I’m specifically talking about experts you find online. I encourage you to study their content, consume all their talks, blog posts, videos and newsletters. By listening to these people you will be acquiring their expertise as well as learning from mistakes made along their career.
That’s value. Someone’s already made that mistake for you to avoid so that you can achieve your goals faster.
Careful though, because it’s not about grabbing the first expert or influencer you come across online. Which is why the first word for this tip is “search”.
I believe the act of learning should be enjoyable and if someone’s teaching style or method of doing things doesn’t resonate with you, it’s okay to move on. You wouldn’t want to hang around someone you dislike in real-life, learning from someone is the same.
Here’s how you can gain even more knowledge from these experts:
Once you’ve finished consuming their content, let them know. It’s not weird at all to reach out and say “hey, that piece you created helped me a lot!”.
Technology has made communicating easier for us and there’s a benefit to doing this—You’re now in a conversation with your online mentor.
Send out a tweet or email and let them know how much their content has helped you. By doing that, you’re initiating the start of relationship and who knows where it would lead.
Invest in Online Courses
My first paid course taught me more than the three years studying at university.
When I got over the “I don’t want to pay for education ever again” phase of my life (for context, 27k fees was not an investment) I realised how little the cost of an online learning course actually is compared to the value received.
Let me explain why…
- Online courses are short.
- Online courses can be completed in your own time.
- Online courses are affordable.
I would have gladly invested thousands into online courses knowing I’ll finish with the right set of skills to go out and make a real impact. There is an abundance of online material so there’s no excuse!
If you’re missing a particular skill, Google will do a great job filtering the best results. While most free material will cover your immediate need, most free material will cover just the tip of the iceberg.
An online course alternatively packs a lot more depth, is polished, insightful and edited to included only the relevant parts.
You’re not just learning from someone knowledgeable, you’re also supporting the creator by purchasing their material. Especially if you have been following their content for a while and you’re receiving value each time, buying their course (or any of their products) let’s them know they’re helping someone out there.
Even if paid courses aren’t your thing right now, certain creators will have tonnes of free content already published for you and I highly recommend to go through all their free stuff before committing to a bigger purchase.
Engage in Online Communities
The value of engaging in online communities specific to your creative field is similar to listening to the experts.
The difference—you’re learning together with people who share similar values, beliefs and skill-level.
Experts are far removed from the struggles of someone just starting out. Disclaimer! This by no means experts can’t empathise with the beginners, I’m afraid people may see the gap from where they are currently to the level of the expert and feel discouraged.
Whereas speaking to someone at a similar experience level, they will likely relate to what you’re going through. Reaching the next step will feel a lot easier and achievable. Communities unlock self-belief.
Speaking about your struggles within these communities will open you to a plethora of useful advice. Your struggles creates awareness for others while also helping those that didn’t quite have the confidence to ask the same question. Massive benefits to all because there’s always value to take away from other’s experiences.
Now how do you get involved?
Those experts you will be listening will likely have a community. Join them, then jump into the conversations.
I have built incredible relationships with people who I’ve never met in person.
It certainly blows my mind how one can build connections like these. From those initial conversations, we went on to start our own smaller community, collaborated on design projects, offer feedback and engaged in video hangouts. Even better, we’re able to communicate without fear of being judged. That is definitely an environment I want to be in and I’m sure you want the same.
Listen to Podcasts
This method changed my life.
Bold thing to say, right? But without a doubt—it certainly has.
First up, who loves music? I’m imagining close to 100% of the audience reading will internally nod.
Now who listens to music while they work? Or while you commute, walk or cook dinner? More nods?
Podcasts are high-level conversations offering a unique listening experience to help you grow around your chosen topic.
When I made to switch from listening to music to listening to podcasts, my growth rate was exponential. I’m not just talking about technical, design software skills—I mean, mindset, communication, creative thinking, even grammar.
Those of us with the earlier versions of iPhones would wonder what impact will this purple-app-icon-thing have? Going back to my University self, I never knew a “podcast” back then would pack so much life-changing value.
Think of podcasts like attending a coffee catch-up or a talk. You don’t need to commute be in the same room as the speaker! Simply hit play and listen.
I would end this post right here with the listening to podcasts method, but there’s still one more.
None of these learning methods are meant to be carved in stone. Yet if there was such a thing, reading books would be a top commandment.
The tangible experience of reading a book can’t be replicated through digital mediums (in my opinion). That’s why this form of traditional media is still prominent today. Credibility is attached with books. There’s also an extreme amount of editing that a book will go through. All the fluff has been taken out so that you can digest only the information you need to hear.
The idea from one book could be all you need.
It just takes one chapter, one paragraph, one sentence to just get it.
All the answers to the problem at hand will be inside a book. By reading you’re developing your mind, you improve your vocabulary and you’ll gather insights to the author’s ideas, mindsets and experiences.
There’s benefits upon benefits to why books are gold. Just remember it’s not often how much you read, it’s what you read.
If you read this far, then I know you’re serious about becoming the best version of yourself. Whether you want to run your own specialised design agency, become the most successful designer in your city or be brave enough to change the world, become a life-long learner by using the methods above.
Learning is one of those cycles that is okay to get lost in.
Attaining and retaining information should be a part of your daily routine. Be curious enough to find the gold hidden out there. People won’t change until they want to change, and you can only grow by first making the choice to want to grow.
So if there’s one thing you should take away from this article, it’s to find the section that most resonates with you—then take action. Lastly, be sure to continue reading the huge host of incredible and useful design articles on Logo Creative!, and checkout their resources page.
Many thanks for reading!
A life-long learner, Jonathan Perucho is a marketing designer for the fashion luxury industry helping brands storytell effectively through illustrative social media graphics. Connect on Twitter (@jaytenart) if you enjoy coffee, branding or Korean music!
Also published on Medium.