We have often read and heard this quote 'Practice makes a man perfect.' I personally think it is true...
I have always believed that if a person can do a particular thing, I can do it too. That person does it naturally whereas I have to learn how to do it. It's a very simple formula--- Treat yourself as a student and learn whatever comes your way.
As for me, I am a self-taught artist/designer, and I do not hesitate to share this fact to my clients. I started my career quite late in my life. A late bloomer, you can say. But I am happy with what I have got and where I am today. Though it was not an easy one. I am at a place where some designers half my age are... But that's okay. You have to start somewhere. You must believe in yourself and you must be satisfied by your own progress.
There are times (and will always be) when I ask myself what if I would have gone to a design school... Then, maybe, I would not have to struggle so much to reach where I am today. Life would have been much more smoother as a designer. I would be having all the basic knowledge of designing etc. But, maybe, God had something else in His mind for me and wanted me to learn this way.
Today I am sharing some of my personal experiences as a self-taught person---
1) My clients made me a designer! I remember the day when I got my first real assignment in 2011. It was from a client from Canada. I couldn't complete it that time because I had no knowledge of how prints were made! I still regret of not working for him. He liked my hand-drawings and wanted me to work for him. He even introduced Photoshop to me and taught how to use that software. Funny, it may sound, but it is true! I was taught by my own clients many times although I told them very honestly that I am no designer, just a full-time mom and drawing was my hobby.
2) Taking online classes. After doing a few works of my 'teacher clients' I decided to take this designer part seriously. 'Where to learn this skill from?' was the biggest question before me. Now, that I was a mom of two small kids and couldn't leave them all by themselves at home, I decided to learn online. I enrolled in a few online design courses (and still doing it to learn new ways to improve myself as a designer).
3) Making new friends. Through these online courses I met some great artists and designers. We have amazing groups on Facebook, and the people in there are very supportive. They all are a darling. From watercolour artists to print designers to licensing agents, I have a really long list of lovely friends for lifetime!
4) Make Google your friend. Search Google for whatever you want to learn. Your knowledge is just a click away. I learned from so many tutorials about how to create patterns, textures etc. Or, how to create a correct file size for my work, how to make a PDF/Zip files etc. It was so frustrating at times when there was no one near me to help me with these simple problems.
5) Challenging myself and trying new things. As I told you earlier that I always believe that if a person can do a particular thing, I can do it too. I have this fighter spirit in me. I often challenge myself to create those new techniques in my designs and patterns that other designers are doing. Though sometimes I don't reach exactly there, yet it makes me come out of my comfort zone and create something that I may not have been tried otherwise. And that's good too.
6) Accepting my failures. Entering design competitions are a good way to test yourself. We all want to be the winner but not every time we are the winners. Right? Sometimes we are not even in the top 50! It happens with me almost every time... Accept that. Don't get disheartened. Learn from your mistakes and try to improve yourself with a new spirit.
7) Don't wait for that right moment. There is no such thing as a right moment. Have a blog/website/instagram to share your creative journey. You will surely be amazed by your own progress. Sometimes I feel ridiculous of sharing those early images in my blog, but that's the only way I can see my progress. I have not removed a single drawing from my blog, it inspires me and motivates me to give my best each time. At that time those drawings were the best for me. And don't forget that I got work through them! You don't know what tomorrow holds for you...
8) Don't wait until you have learned it all. I realized that I can never learn all the things in my life. Learning is a continuous process. Keep learning new ways to improve your skills and keep growing. Submit your work to art directors. Don't be afraid of getting a reply in 'no/sorry' etc. It is always better to hit that 'send/submit button' rather than regretting for the rest of your life. Learn as you create.
9) Don't always rely on the client's perspective. Soon after receiving my first few rejection mails I found out that there are two types of clients. One- there are clients who love your artwork and want to work with you, but want to see your design degrees first. Two- there is another category of clients who don't even bother if you are a design graduate as long as you have the talent that they are searching for... They are interested only in your work not your degrees! Yes, it's absolutely true. I was contacted by someone through Linkedin who really liked my work wanted me to work for his company as a freelancer. He further asked for my design degrees and my portfolio. I told him that I don't have any degree in designing because I am not a design graduate, he was amazed to know that. I believe that he was really amazed by this news because he stopped further conversation...
10) Be brave and fight for your right. You have worked hard to reach at a place where you are recognised as a designer/artist. You should be brave enough to fight with the world for your rights. I have learned these three funny things as a freelance designer-
1) Posting your work on the internet means that they are free to be used by other people. This is exactly what people have in mind who use your work as their own! Ah Lovely!
2) You must know that it is a crime to copy original artworks and to sell it without permission. You can't catch all these copycats, it's a waste of time. But if you find someone selling your original artworks as their own then let them know immediately. Email them. Fight with them for your right. Keep fighting until you are satisfied. Internet is a good place to let the world know a bit more about you-- the fighter!
3) If you find your work on a blog/websit that doesn't credits you, please email that person reminding that the work originally belongs to you. Don't fight this time. Instead, promote that post all over the internet to tell the world that your work has been showcased there!!! Feel proud that people love your work! Ha.. ha..
I feel so proud of myself being a self-taught designer. I am blessed that I have such helpful clients and friends in my life. I feel proud paving my way through the rough roads and trying to carry on my journey with my two daughters and a super supportive husband. Love you darling. Love you even more for being there with me all the time...