I remember the first time I discovered 'graphic design', although that wasn't what I called it then. It was the spring/summer before highschool and my family had bought a new computer and it came with a program called Paint Shop Pro.
I just thought that was the coolest thing. I remember spending hours in that room on the computer 'designing' things - and I thought I was the bees knees haha All I really did back then was remove backgrounds and add text - probably didn't even know what a 'layer' was.
But slowly, my skills improved. There was a project in grade 9 french where we had to show different things we loved on a poster board (in french of course). So I used PSP to create different images, each showcasing 'themes' - I think one was computers & tech stuff and another was fashion & beauty things. People told me then I should do that for a living, but I was hesitant (and only 14, not ready to decide my future just yet thanks).
Over the course of highschool, I learned a lot about design. By the time I was finishing grade 12, I designed a book in PSP. (Really!) Our assignment was to recreate Hamlet as a kid's book. So I went and found stock images and edited them and laid in my text and had it all printed and it looked pretty darn good! I kind of can't believe I actually did that haha but it was pretty fun.
When I was researching & applying for universities, my first focus was science. I thought ophthalmology was where I wanted to go, but I realized it wasn't where my heart was. Sometime that fall, I had picked up a book at the university fair for Ryerson because someone had told me they had a good graphic design program. When I realized I was done with the sciences, I began to consider design as an option. So I applied to Ryerson and a few other universities for a couple different programs, but all containing some art or design aspect.
Thinking that the New Media program at Ryerson had anything to do with graphic design had to be the biggest 'fail' ever. Because aside from one upper level graphic design elective, there was no graphic design in sight. I spent my first year learning Processing code, video editing, art history, art theory, and Second Life (don't ask.) In second year, I learned more Processing, more theory, how to code an Arduino microcomputer, and the history of new media. Third year got a bit better because I actually got to choose some courses, so I learned about drafting, set & costume design, more history (but of England this time), more Processing (seriously), more theories (no really) and the basics of HTML & CSS. And in fourth year I learned about curating, exhibition design, more theories, more English history, and how to plan and execute a gallery show. (I also interned for Leigh Viner in fourth year.) This is of course a very basic run down and I did learn more than what's listed here, but you get the gist.
Honestly, even though it wasn't what I thought I wanted, that program could not have been better for me. I already knew how to design, but I didn't know how to code. I was completely intimidated by code. We started with Processing language in first year, and although I struggled with it, it outlined the basics of coding for me. And learning a wee bit of HTML & CSS in third year gave me enough confidence to begin to play around with code.
From there, I taught myself mostly. (The internet is a wonderful thing) I had started this blog by that point, so I learned how to code for Blogger. Now, I can pretty much do anything with Blogger code. I can code for Wordpress; takes a bit longer but I can do it. And now I'm redesigning a proper website for the camp I go to and I'm slightly intimidated by the code staring at me, but I know I can do it.
|by Alecia Simersky|
So how did I get here? This graphic & web design business? It has been a very natural evolution of things. Over the course of 9 years, I have learned how to design (I now use PS3, no more PSP haha) and how to code, and they have found a happy meeting place in blog design.
I think my advice to anyone who wants to do this (or any other 'career' really) is to learn at your own pace. If they're available, take some courses to get your feet wet so it's not so big & intimidating. And then play around with it. Open up a new Photoshop file and just learn new things. Same with coding. If you Google 'how to add border in HTML', tons of results will pop up. So just try things. Always save a backup just in case, but don't be afraid to screw it up. Sometimes that's how we learn best, when we have to solve a problem. And I think that applies to any area of our lives.
Whatever it is that you've always wanted to do but it's been too big or intimidating, take it slow. You'll get there :)