One of the smartest things I did during last year’s post-2012 election break was take some time to expand my toolset and learn how to use Photoshop. New media is becoming more and more visual by the second and graphic design — even at its most basic level — is a skill every organizer should have.
Two years ago, I didn’t know one thing about graphic design, but since then I’ve used the skills I’ve learned to create memes, billboards, digital ads, websites, and more for my clients. It takes time, but it’s really not that hard. Here’s how I’d recommend getting started:
- Don’t buy Photoshop. That sounds counter to this blog post, right? Nope. As you probably know, Photoshop is an incredibly expensive program — about $400 unless you have an educational discount — which is why I recommend you sign up for Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan. It costs $9.99/month and you get full access to Photoshop and other tools Adobe offers. Photoshop Elements (a “lite” version of Photoshop) is fairly inexpensive too.
- Sign up for a Lynda.com account. Lynda is basically Netflix for professional software trainings. I utilize it almost every day to sharpen my Photoshop skills. Lynda has an endless archive for you to explore and if you’re a curious person like me you’ll lose hours of your life learning random skills you never knew you needed (and really, isn’t that more productive than watching the West Wing for the 10th time?). It costs $25 per month and it is well worth it.
- Go take a class. Self-learning via Lynda can only take you so far before you need something a bit more advanced. For me, that meant taking a class at the local community college on Photoshop. Another great option is the Graphic Design training offered regularly at NOI.
- Create an inspiration folder on your desktop. One of the best parts about graphic design is that there is no shortage of examples of quality work on the Internet. I recommend you create a folder on your desktop and drop anything you see that you like into the folder. Then, when you’re stuck on a design project, you can go back and look to them for ideas and inspiration.
Never be afraid to go out there and learn new skills — like Photoshop — that will make you invaluable on your current or next campaign.
Reprinted from NOI’s Tip of the Day.