Paper Matters Blog
Learning on the Fly: Training Resources for Designers
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I’ve been a print designer for most of my career and as technology and trends have changed, I’ve been asked more times than I can count, “Can we do this?” As a lover of learning and a good challenge,  my answer is usually, “I’ll figure it out.” That attitude toward learning a new skill has served me well over the years. It has allowed me to be a valuable member of my team and given me personal satisfaction. Thankfully, the graphic design training resources available today are numerous and seeking out those new skills are well within your grasp.

Why Graphic Designers Must Learn New Skills Quickly

Today’s graphic designers are expected to have many skills. You can’t hang your hat on being an expert in just one design medium. Employers now expect you to be advanced in at least two and have some knowledge in all the main graphic design areas: print, web, motion, branding, packaging and interactive design.

When I started my career, graphic designers typically stayed in their respective lane. Print designers designed print materials, web designers designed web pages and so on. I have a couple of theories on why that all changed.

First, companies began hiring more in-house design talent, hoping to save marketing and advertising dollars. Typically, these teams were small, one or two-person teams. These small design teams were often asked to stretch into new creative areas.

Second, advances in software, specifically Adobe, closed the gap between the design mediums. Crossing over became easier and more accessible.

No matter the reason for this change in the graphic design industry, the fact remains that designers of all mediums will need to be multifaceted in their skills and seeking out training opportunities is paramount to staying ahead in this field.

Navigating the Road to Success

Learning a new skill is both intimidating and exhilarating. There are so many graphic design training resources and tutorials available today that it can be overwhelming to choose one. One thing I can guarantee is that you will find training for the skill you need. Navigating through all the options may take some time, but it will be well worth the effort when you find what works for you. Here are a few options that I recommend, some are free, some are paid subscriptions, and some are pay-by-class.

Free Graphic Design Training Resources

  • YouTube is a great free source for learning a specific skill or technique. The risk here is you will run across some classes that are posted by less than professional trainers. My advice is to check out the YouTuber’s track record and trust the reviews of fellow designers.
  • The Adobe Creative Cloud channel posts some nice quick technique tutorials as well as full sessions of the previous year’s Adobe Max event.
  • Behance is another good free resource for Adobe CC users. Classes are available on-demand and live classes can be viewed daily, plus Behance has a creative community where designers can go for inspiration and post their own work with Adobe Portfolio.
  • CreativePro is another good option that provides some targeted How-Tos along with articles, industry news and they host a well-received event each year called Creative Pro Week. Although not a tutorial site, CreatveBloq has been a great resource for me for the latest news about company branding, software updates and hardware reviews. Last but not least is
  • Domtar Paper, known for our exceptional paper, but did you know we are a great resource for designers, printers and paper users alike who want to learn more about how to get the best results from a printed piece. We offer inspiration and insight through our complimentary Paper Matters magazine, insightful blogs from our designers, paper and printing experts, beautiful printed samples showcasing our paper brands and gallery submissions from designers like you.

 Subscription–based Graphic Design Training Resources

If you have some training dollars to spend or can invest in yourself, subscription-based trainings are the way to go. It can save you the time—you could stop here to learn a subject vs. sifting through a lot of irrelevant or outdated content. Plus you will find good trainers with the paid training. There are a few of my favorites that I would recommend.

  • Skillshare is my new go-to as of late. They are very reasonably priced and have any design software you want to learn as well as classes in other arts like photography, writing, drawing, lettering and crafting. In my experience, the teachers have been easy to follow and experts in their area of expertise.
  • LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com is a well-known training resource. Although not dedicated to the graphic designer, they do carry an impressive amount of design courses that are sure to get you the design training you need and more. A yearly subscription with LinkedIn Learning costs no more than buying a latte once a week. Plus, you can spruce up those often necessary business skills.
  • CreativeLive is another I would recommend. They offer live classes for free, all-access paid subscriptions and pay-by-class options. You must RSVP for the free classes and watch it only at the scheduled time or it’s no longer free. So, the paid subscription here is the best way to go if you need flexible training times.

Finding Your Way

In this ever-changing graphic design industry, staying on top of your skills and adding new ones is a must. Whether you get nudged into learning a new skill or actively seek out training on your own the good news is graphic design training resources are just a keystroke away. Test a few of these resources out to see what suits your learning style and budget. And, don’t forget to check out paper.domtar.com for additional designer resources. Happy training!

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