Staff Picks: Some of Brooks’ Favorite Design Classes

Every now and then, I have a little conversation with myself about how the past week/month/year has gone. I think about the things I set out to do and wonder if I’ve done them. I compare my accomplishments to those of the people around me (even though I know I shouldn’t). It’s at this point that I usually hurry to the drawer at work with all the candy in it.

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With great power comes great… power.

For many of us, the daily push & pull of a day job takes more out of us than we feel like we’ve got, so the idea of spending our precious little spare time on self-improvement can feel a like a tall order. Maybe one problem is that we think of self-improvement as self-improvement rather than neighborhood-improvement. Or friendship-improvement. Or Monday-improvement. Will you make all of Bono’s dreams come true by taking a CreativeLive class? Pretty sure the answer is no. That being said, we’d all be better off if we thought less about what our abilities mean for us and more about what they mean for the the people, places, and things we love. In her thought-provoking Creative Mornings talk, Jennifer Daniel raised the very important point that design is not inherently good. Like most disciplines, it’s only as good as the person wielding it.

Here are some of the best design classes we’ve got and some ideas for what it could look like to leverage them for the greater good:

1.Tell the truth.

Bold and Fearless Poster Design with James Victore

Bold & Fearless Poster Design with James Victore: James Victore is a master of cutting the crap – and he’d love for you to cut it, too. It’s all too easy to get caught up in style trends and software tips/tricks without realizing that you’ve completely missed the most important thing: having something to say. Perhaps surprisingly, getting to the core of your own message is a selfless exercise that requires open eyes and a fearless approach (bye bye self-preservation).

2. Celebrate the little things.

Drawing the everyday every day

Drawing the Everyday Every Day with Kate Bingaman-Burt: Kate’s story and her craft are deeply personal and impactful. This class will open your eyes to the countless relationships people have with the countless object around them. There are millions of seemingly insignificant things that, when we stop to really observe them, can teach us volumes about the world we call home.

3. Find your place in history.


Design Literacy and Paul Rand with Steven Heller (Free Class): As a designer, you have a family tree. You have a lineage that can be traced to your teachers, inspiration, and influences. Your unique approach to design is a one-of-a-kind cocktail made from formal education, illustrations on the backs of cereal boxes, and everything in between. Our individual creative heritages are all different, but there are certain contributors – mainstays – whose work has taught us all something, whether we realize it or not. Paul Rand is one of those mainstays. In this class, Steven Heller explains some of Paul’s process and influence.

4. Be a creative listener.

Visual Notetaking: A Beginner's Guide to Sketchnotes

Visual Notetaking: A Beginner’s Guide to Sketchnotes with Giselle Chow: Now more than ever, we’re inundated with demands for our attention. All day, every day, you’re getting hosed down with pings, posts, and whatever else. We’ve developed filters upon filters to help us sift through all the noise, but they can make it hard for us to listen actively when it counts. Getting good at sketchnotes is almost impossible to do without getting good at listening. If you take this class, you’ll have a new skill that will help you discover the valuable thoughts & feelings of others while also sharing those thoughts and feelings in a beautiful way.

5. Get a new job.

Get the Design Job You Want

Get the Design Job You Want with Ram Castillo: If you’re bummed about your current job, it can be really tough to push through the doldrums in an effort to get to the next opportunity. Bear in mind, though, that every little step you take will make a difference, not just for you, but for the people around you. As you add new skills to your toolkit, you have more to share. Developing your career is not, by default, doing a service to the community, but it can definitely enhance your ability to give back.

We’re committed to building the best design classes on the internet and we want your feedback. What do you want to learn most?

Brooks Chambers FOLLOW >

Brooks Chambers is an excitable design advocate and writer at CreativeLive. He loves people and the stuff they make.