How I Taught Myself Graphic Design


It makes me SO extremely happy to say that I am now a Junior Graphic Designer for SpotX {my day job} and I can finally write this post!!!

Most of you probably don’t know that Graphic Design was not my major, I was a Marketing Major. Which is such a great degree to get, but something that I was never super passionate about. I realized I should’ve done graphic design around Junior year of college, but alas, it was too late to change majors and still graduate…and this is where my journey of starting to teach myself design started!

I wanted to share this on the blog today bc sometimes life doesn’t work out perfectly and you gotta work hard and figure out yourself how to reach your goals. So, if any of you out there want to learn graphic design yourself,  I’m listing below how I taught myself everything I know!

I kinda did all these things over a period of 3 years & it’s definitely been a slow progressions bc I was so used to just drawing or painting, and learning to put it online & how to translate it into print has been a huge learning curve.

Learning Adobe programs:

Well to be a graphic designer this is pretty much the main skill you need & that is on every job application. The first program I ever learned was Photoshop & it was the weirdest thing when I first opened it. But now I would say I am extremely proficient in Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign, but also have a lot to learn (there are an infinite amount of things to learn in all these programs)

But how do I get to this point?

1.     My first experiences with these programs were in college. I took 2 classes in college to learn about the Adobe programs. Which I highly recommend. It gives you a general overview and jumping off point to work with.

2.     I also learned a lot on my own though. My college had a subscription to which is an online learning resource. This had sooo many online courses to take with video after video of how to learn each program. Each one was around 5 hours each….I finished a few and quit some after a few videos, but still learned so much. Side note: later on I found a different online place that is a lot cheaper called Skill Share (which I recommend, but they don’t have courses). But ask your teachers or google your college and online learning because most colleges have this resource.

3.     I would say I learned the most though by just giving myself fake projects & being in each program. By just trying new things, clicking on buttons, & playing around, I learned the most. If I was trying to complete a project and couldn’t figure something out, I would youtube or google it and try to figure it out.

Takes countless hours of makes errors and figuring out what each button and slider means to really be able to make what you want in each program.

Learning Design

I didn’t make this title “Graphic Design” for a reason. Design is all the same principles/values. It doesn’t matter if you are an artist, graphic designer, interior designer, space designer; it all comes from the same basic principles of balance, harmony, contrast, texture, etc.

But how do you learn such a skill?

The main thing I did was READ A LOT OF BOOKS.

Like I read actual graphic design text books. This really helps you learn the basic principles of design like harmony, balance, space, etc. If there’s one thing you need to learn it’s these principles that you probably learned in art class in high school. It gives you information about layout type composition etc. Which I’m assuming is what graphic designers learn in all their classes in college?? IDK!! If you are a graphic designer major please LMK.

Anyway, here are books I’ve read & books I just ordered (bc the learning never stops)


  • White Space Is Not Your Enemy
  • Graphic Design
  • The Brand Gap
  • Design – The Ground Breaking Moments
  • How To
  • Designing: An Introduction
  • The Secret Lives of Color
  • Graphic Design Thinking (Design Briefs)
  • I’ll Drink To That (not design, but a good read on following your passion & never compromising your style)

Going to Read:

  • Leadership: Best Practices and Processes for In-house creative leaders
  • In-house design in practice

I also studied  & took notes on everything in each book, which leads me to my next point:

Stay ontop of Trends & Always Be Learning bc

Your design is a compilation of every visual you see throughout your life.

Your “style” or “aesthetic” is a mix of everything you have seen that you like. Does that make sense? You see sooo much in your life, but what you look at and like is what you will make in the future & what you work will resemble.

The more different books, articles, photos, podcasts etc you look at will give your work depth and breadth because you will be able to have a wide range of styles and textures and layers to your work that aren’t just 1 style, but a mix of all of the things you like!

It’s such a hard conscept for me to explain, but that is why I read so many books!! I also look constantly at Pinterest, Dribbble, Behance, and design agency work to get inspired by new ways of making things look & new solutions to design problems that I haven’t thought of before.

Here are my favorite things to learn from:

Real Life Practice

 I actually did ANYTHING anyone wanted me to do that included design.

And a majority of it was for FREE. At all the marketing internships I had, somehow they always found out I had an eye for design & I ended up putting stuff together. Or in my sorority, I became VP of Communications, so I could design FB banners t-shirts, invites, etc. If a friend asked me for help with decorating their room, I helped.

And through doing all of this I a) learned the adobe programs b) strengthened my design/problem solving skills c) built up my resume with design related accomplishments

I eventually built up enough confidence and skills to land a Graphic Design internship where I worked FOR FREE and had to commute an hour each way my LAST SEMESTER SENIOR YEAR of college. At the same time I had another design job for our school newspaper where I helped the sales team with collateral {because I needed to makeup for lost time all other graphic designers already had}. And I also worked an odd job for our business school to make some $$.

Actually think about that for a second. 3 jobs my last semester of college and 1 was unpaid and an hour commute each way. Plus a full 5 classes and a social life & a long distance boyfriend…. You could say I was overwhelmed most of the time , but I was DEDICATED to make this happen.

So, that is how I learned design!!

I genuinely hope that this helps even just 1 person who is starting their journey of graphic design. It’s a long road and hard most of the times {not gonna lie lol}, but for me it was worth it to changed my Linkedin job stat from Sales & Marketing Coordinator to Junior Graphic Designer J s/o to SpotX.

I remember when I first started out it was just a hobby. But, mostly bc I didn’t think it was possible to have a career in this bc I didn’t have it as my major and there were so many people out there who were better than me.

But I am proof that any regular gal can do it!! If you’re reading this and thinking that you aren’t good at design (even though you probs are) and want a career in it then WORK HARD & DON’T GIVE UP. If I can do it, I think anyone can do it.

Love you all!!!



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