When I did my undergrad in art and design, we did three units of graphic design. I absolutely love great design but my ability to use the Adobe Creative Suite was limited. I had a copy of CS3 at home and I could do the basics but it was never my strength. It was kind of all a bit too hard for me and with only one class a week, I really wasn't retaining information I was learning (and we were not given handouts or notes to remind us).
I think the worst part was that, for the first two units, we had a teacher who was a creepy version of David Bowie to look at and didn't actually teach. If I had a problem, rather than talking me through solving it, he'd simply do it for me and move along.
I felt a little sorry for the lovely lady who took our third unit when she realised that most of us were completely clueless on using Illustrator particularly. I for one did not even know what a vector was. We had mostly worked in Photoshop and InDesign. Funnily enough, InDesign seems fairly straightforward to me, even now, and is the program I am strongest in.
Thankfully the course I did has changed significantly and the graphic design stream is much more professionalised and the creepy teacher long gone. Students graduating from the course can/should be much better equipped to apply for graphic design jobs. I would never apply for a graphic design job because, although I can say I am familiar with the programs used, I'm not a pro or even close.
Fast forward to now, I upgraded to CS5.5 late last year but every time I turned on Illustrator, I became quickly frustrated. When I recently started The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course (see the sidebar), while there wasn't a requirement to have these programs, there are technical workshops that teach you about surface pattern design using them. All was going along well enough until I hit the Illustrator session, and, after following the instructions, the image was not doing what I wanted it to do.
I am 110% sure this is the fault of the user (me!) and not the instructions!!
So, last weekend I cracked it (for non Aussies that means I had a little tantrum with my Mac!) and decided I needed to learn this program properly, once and for all. I looked up online courses, books, short courses through universities and TAFE. I couldn't find anything that looked right for me and that was affordable right now. So I sent my BFAM (brother from another mother) Brad an email. He is is not only a top-notch graphic designer but super generous with his time, knowledge and patience with me on these issues, and asked him what he thought I should do. He recommended this DVD/book combo.
I've linked to the Australian Borders online store because I ordered it on Sunday night at 10pm and by lunchtime today (Tuesday) it was delivered. I always like to acknowledge great service when I get it because all too often we DON'T get it! Thankyou Borders!
There is over 17 hours of video on this thing. So far I've watched TWO and it already feels like someone has switched on the light and made things clearer. I'm already prepared to say I highly recommend it.
I am definitely not being paid by anyone to say nice things about this product or Borders. I just like sharing the love.
As a sweetener, I thought I would also share my very first pattern design - in Photoshop! - I did for the course. It's pretty basic but I am happy with it - the nuts are hand-drawn and scanned.
P.S. Just a little footnote from a proud little sis, Brad has also recently published a fantastic e-book called Ned Kelly: A Pictorial History. His knowledge and enthusiasm for all things Ned Kelly is famous and he is most certainly a modern day expert on the famous bushranger. While I am no fan of Ned Kelly, I am a HUGE fan of Brad and I am really pleased for him that this project has met with the success it has. If you like Australian history and you have iBooks2 on your iPad, you can buy it here and know you're reading the work of a true historian on the topic.
Love you, bro.