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Illustrator Diving In

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  • Illustrator Diving In

    Hey, Gang.

    Been lurking for a few days, doing a lot of reading. Figured it was time to say hi and describe my situation.

    I have noticed a trend. There are seemingly thousands of people who populate the industry that know the core software, but don't have any real experience or ability when it comes to design. A number of you lament this issue.

    I have the opposite problem. I've been a freehand illustrator for years. I worked for a company that produced stock designs for embroidery, sometimes small patches, other times full jacket backs. The principles of design were in play, like color theory, unity, gestalt, balance, hierarchy, the rule of three, left corner visual flow, that sort of thing. Typography was also a common concern, so knowing the impact of serif vs. sans-serif, kerning, avoiding widows and orphans, all these issues were familiar as well.
    I worked under deadlines, produced a wide array of images in different genres, and stuck to the standards set for a pack of images, be it realism, art nouveau, art deco, pop art, what have you.

    Once an image is drawn and colored, it was sent to the digitizing department, where they used a CAD board to enter it into an embroidery program.

    Remember, this company spent cash on the embroidery software, the equipment and large multi-head embroidery machines for samples. They saved money by having art hand drawn and saw no reason for the art department to use software. The production team often came to the art department, asking us for input on catalog page layout, brochure design, logo work, etc. They would then farm the final mock-up out to a printer.

    They have since relocated, and I'm reconsidering my future while working as a clerk for an Oil and Gas company.

    My experience, plus some illustration for a number of freelance clients, has convinced my serious GD friends that I should get started in graphic design. One is a teacher in the Graphics department at the local university, the other is a project leader for one of the larger advertizing firms in the area.
    They actually get mad that I haven't sat my 40 year old butt down and committed to the software, so...

    I have (with my tax return) purchased a new computer, a Wacom tablet, two monitors and the Adobe CS6 Creative suite is on the way.
    They believe I can learn the Trinity (PS, Indy and Illy) over the summer using

    They believe I understand good design as well as the mindset needed for the profession.
    But are they right that software competency can be achieved by rigorous dedication to Lynda?

  • #2
    Hi Barrett, welcome to the forum. I hope you'll find it useful and fun here.

    We ask all new members to read the threads posted HERE and HERE. They explain how the forum runs, the rules, frequently discussed topics and our inside jokes.

    If you have the dedication to practice, and a good foundation in illustration, layout and design, I'd say yes. You can do it by fall. I'd also recommend looking at the "Missing Manual" books, the "Bible" series and others, and find one you like. There's also a ton of help available from the Adobe help system, both on your computer and online.

    And, of course, there's this place.

    Good luck!
    This post is brought to you by the letter E and the number 9. Those are the buttons I push to get a Twix out of the candy machine.
    "I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process."


    • #3
      While Lynda is a means of showing you how to do things (and not always the right way, I might addddd.....) it doesn't actually let you apply your knowledge. I've found the easiest way to learn Illustrator is to just come up with a fake brief, do the usual sketching then figure out what it takes to make Illustrator do the work.


      • #4
        I would say that you absolutely can do it. I'm a student right now who never had any software experience, and after one month of projects and mock briefs for class, I was flying through Illustrator like I'd been there forever. Same thing for PS, and I'm sure the same for InDesign when I get there. I'm far from an expert, but after a month in each program, I know more than enough to make anything I want to. And, what I don't know how to do, I'm certain I could figure out.

        You'll be fine.
        "I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares."--Saul Bass


        • #5
          Originally posted by Barrett View Post
          The Trinity (PS, Indy and Illy)
          I like that... I think I'm going to steal that

          Welcome to the GDF mon ami. Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders and I think you'll fit in just nice here.

          I second what PD said. Coming up with your own briefs is a great way to excel and practice as well.

          You'll do just fine if you put your mind to it. Cheesy but true
          Less marketing douchebaggery, MORE TANKS!


          • #6
            Coming up with your own briefs.... yeah, right.

            Just be careful you don't give yourself a wedgie.

            Here's another thought: if your design skills are solid and very marketable, why not hire some of the 'thousands' you mentioned to do the digital stuff? Graphic software skills are so ubiquitous, it might make a lot more sense to explore this route. Maybe you could art direct them virtually. How's your business management skills?

            Otherwise you'll be directly competing against the same mouse-monkeys in order to get new clients. Are you after making money now, or sacrificing time, money, and sweat trying to ramp up your tech skills to the point where you can market your design skills in the distant future?


            • #7
              the software is the easy bit, sure it may seem a bit daunting, these programs have vast amounts of "features"/tools. Though a lot of them you will probably use once and by the time you go to use them a second time, they will have changed how they work/where they are located. So it's not as huge of a task as you might think. Also a lot of the tools are similar in all three programs, so that knowledge is somewhat transferrable.
              Design is not decoration.


              • #8
                Well, not necessarily your own briefs but someone else's.
                There are plenty of online resources for 'challenges' and such. Although, still, you'd learn more in 3 weeks on the job than you will working things out on your own.






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