feed-your-brainSo, I’m going through a new stage of life right now – starting last fall, my boys are all officially in school.  They gone for the first time for 6 plus hours a day, and for the first time in my life, I have hour after hour of time on my hands to fill.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have PLENTY to do, the pace of the digital designer industry is unreal, and I can easily spend every single free hour of every single day designing. Not to mention things around the house and all the “extras” that make my 6 hours of freedom disappear bit by bit (pick one child up for a dr. appointment, go to a special bbq lunch at school with another kid, run to the store to pick up this or that, and all of those “I forgot” trips to the store to drop off this that and the other thing.). But I am finding myself really looking at the free time I DO have now, and wanting to invest it well.

Although a majority of my time at home is spent making new product (read: pretty much all my time), one thing I’m finding I need is to make time for is my feeding my brain. Sometimes I am just overwhelmed with the number of things out there in the universe I don’t know, and I could easily get sucked into learning everything I possibly can about grisly bears or the french revolution (wait till I tell you about sperm whales! They are so interesting!). I have really made the effort to make time over the past year to building my design and business skills. I’m quite proud really. I could tell you step by step how to use pattern maker in Illustrator, or the shortcut for may of the tools in the tools panel. I know how to use the blob brush, how to make a business plan, how to streamline my processing in Adobe Lightroom and a whole lot more, today as I work, I am building Typography skills in a basic typography class.

Here is the best part about it, though: 95% of all of the classes I’ve taken over the past year have been absolutely FREE. I want so so so bad to start college and earn a real degree in art and graphic design (like SO BAD, but that is another post), so in the meantime I’m saving my pennies and scouring the web for information and free classes. I’m amazed at how much there is out there too learn if you are just looking for it, and I get positively giddy when I run into a new design class or video that I haven’t seen yet!

I know not everyone out there is like me with big chunks of your day to invest in getting a free education, but I wanted to share some of my favorite sites, because maybe there is one you want to hone in on, or even just some some “background noise” for the next time you have to fold a load of laundry.  I alternate a lot of times between Netflix, Spotify, and a design class or webinar of some sort as entertainment while I design through out the day. So if you want to learn more about a new craft, get inspired, or refine your skills, you can probably find it out there and here are a few places I think you should try:

  • Creative Live (www.creativelive.com/): This is pretty much my favorite place ever right now.  Creative Live streams free classes all day long.  Classes cover photography, design, crafting, scrapbooking, music & audio, and business, just even other life skills.  Most of their classes run a few days long so you have to keep your eye on it all day if you want to get everything for free, however you can always buy a class if you can’t watch it all at once or think you would like to access it again. Honestly, I have watched bits and pieces of a lot of different classes and I feel like I always walk away with new skills even if I can only squeeze it in for a few hours. It should also be mentioned just how INSPIRING it is to watch/hear creative professionals talk about their craft, sort of fires you up inside a little.  To watch all you have to do go to CreativeLive.com and sign up for free, then you can browse what is currently online, and look though the calendar for future classes you want to watch.  Oh my beloved Creative Live, you are a beautiful, beautiful thing.
  • YouTube: If you are looking to find out how to do pretty much anything, you can find a video about it on YouTube. I’ve found lots of illustrator information, drawing classes, silhouette user info and SOO many awesome crafting how-to’s. Everything I know up to now about Lightroom is from things I’ve seen on YouTube. Anthony Morganti is one of the people I found doing a search for Lightroom tutorials and I found him to be super helpful.
  • If you do a Google search for something you’d like to learn more about, sometimes you will find little text tutorials on About.com – usually they are super simple, but sometimes simple is just the ticket. You can also google any subject and find a zillion blogs with SO MUCH great information! I go down the rabbits hole of design blog posts on a regular basis
  • Skill Share (www.skillshare.com): Skillshare doesn’t exactly count as a “free” resource because they have a monthly fee for their premium classes. However, they do have a free level of membership too though, and there are also awesome classes in the free section – that you can learn some great stuff from. Oh! And when you sign up at first they give you a free week long trial that I used to watch a great typography and some pattern design classes!
  • Illustratoring.com These are classes from Laura Coyle and specific to illustrator, but Laura is brilliant!! Some of the tutorials on her site are ones that were previously for sale (I bought a few and they were SO worth it) but if you  haven’t bought any, lucky you because they are going to be available for free over time. I signed up for her newsletter today. 🙂

Here are a few other sites on my list for the future:

  • Iversity.org um, does that look awesome or what?!?
  • Alison.com another crazy cool site that I can’t wait to dive into, there is a Design Principals class sitting in my account waiting for me right now, and I’ve seen a few others that I can’t wait to check out.
  • Cousera.org I’ve been here and signed up, but I haven’t dug into anything yet so I’ll have to let you know 🙂

There are also some really awesome classes that are worth paying for I think, and I’m definitely not saying that it is not worth spending the money (LOVE Laura Coyle’s illustrator classes I bought were totally worth it). A lot of people that sell classes have free classes too so you can start there and see if you like that particular teacher before you plop down actual money

If there is something out there that you want to know more about I can’t encourage you enough to just type it into google and see what is out there! Use the words “free” and “class” or “tutorial” in your search to help narrow it down and then pick and choose through the results.  You will not believe how many resources are out there for you! It is not just art and design stuff, whatever you want to learn about I’m certain you can find it! If you don’t know exactly what you want to learn but you do know your brain is hungry try one of the sites like creative live and just press play on one of the classes that are currently airing and I promise you will get inspired!

Do you know any awesome places to learn new stuff for free online?? Leave me a comment I would LOVE to go check it out!! Thanks all for coming by! I truly hope you can find something wonderful to put in your brain after reading this post! Now I’m going back to The Art of Typography and my current design project – so you go learn something too!

<3 Shawna