Learning Something New

Learning Something New

Learning is Humbling...And Fun

Back in September, I created a Facebook page when I'd decided to seek employment instead of starting another business.

I intended to create some kind of logo or header, so I opened up Illustrator, a program I've only been in a few times.

Shortly afterwards, I wrote this on that page:

"Learning a new skill is valuable unto itself. It's also valuable as a humbling reminder to appreciate the effort others have made to master the skill. Today's Humbling Reminder was brought to me by Adobe Illustrator."

I was hard-pressed to get much of anything useful created in it! But I also got a bit giddy, seeing a fun opportunity for learning in an area I knew virtually nothing about.

The end of my year was spent in a combination of reflection, research and learning. I am interested in using assets I already have (like my 300,000+ photos). So I put Illustrator aside, and started working on a calendar for my photos. I was doing that in InDesign, another program I didn't know.

When it became clear that the optimal time for creating a calendar was likely past for the year, and it was also not going to be some financial windfall, I went back to Illustrator, intending to learn a few things before the end of the year. Next thing I knew, I'd gotten hooked! I spent several weeks watching and doing quite a few tutorials, proudly sharing the end results with my friends. (You can also see some of them in the slide show at the end of this post.)

Meta Data

Besides whatever I'm learning, I'm always interested in the meta-data about the learning experience. I pay attention to how I'm learning, not just what I'm learning.

To learn Illustrator, I watched (and did) a lot of tutorials created by the same person. Then I started branching out, watching other people's tutorials.

I was aware from the beginning that I had a limiting belief. My belief was that I didn't have artistic, illustrative, visual skills. I noticed I didn't really veer creatively to differentiate myself from the tutorial's output, possibly because of that. I knew I could probably duplicate what someone else was doing, so that's what I focused on.

Resume Creation

I haven't had a resume in well over a decade, because I ran my own development agency. I definitely needed to create one. How was I going to do that task, and keep it interesting? I decided to do it in InDesign. I knew this would give me a great opportunity to learn that program, too, and I was right!

I started off looking for templates as inspiration, but then I created my own, completely from scratch. I was delighted at how useful my Illustrator experience was, when I went back to InDesign.


As I developed my resume, I put some circles in it, thinking maybe I'd put some freeware icons in them. But then? I opened Illustrator instead, and started creating those icons! I did look at other icons for inspiration, but then I created each one on my own.

By the time I was done, I'd created 22 icons. Of course they're not artistic masterpieces, but I'm pretty proud of some of them! One of them was a shar-pei, which I drew on my own, without a single reference photo, and without even looking at my own shar-peis. It isn't perfect, but what's exciting is that I proved that limiting belief wrong. I am able to do something artistically, visually creative.


When I was at the end of those Illustrator tutorials, about to focus on my resume, I paged through an Adobe Classroom In A Book, to see how many of the larger topics I'd touched in the course of my tutorials. Turns out I only missed a few major areas. You can bet I'm going to go back super soon to learn those, too. I'm thinking of doing that through Lynda.com, to make sure I'm solid on the other areas, too.

I'm clear I've only scratched the surface of it, but what a wonderful piece of software, and what a rejuvenating experience to learn something completely new.

Illustrator Examples


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