The Importance of Practicing and Sharing
Before I started blogging I was always playing around with Photoshop, Illustrator and other apps I had an interest in learning more about and wanted to improve my skills in. The idea was always the same…to try and recreate something I saw and liked using this tool. I pretty much spent a decade doing that, always saving to my computer.
Towards the end of 2006, life played its odds and my office was robbed. It turned out that the burglars chose to take my backup drives on the exact day that I decided to backup my files. So my laptop and my two backup drives were taken and I found myself completely lost in space. All those years of learning by practice were gone.
Since that day I decided that everything I learn I would put up online on my blog. So I restarted my routine of experiments and after these almost four years I’ve learned quite a lot of things besides to never take your two backup disks to the same place at the same time. The most important thing I’ve learned is that the best way to promote your work is through sharing your knowledge and the secrets of your work. It’s true and I have a few examples to illustrate that.
I always liked to play with space scenes in Photoshop, trying to come up with solutions and techniques to create those scenes. I am also always checking out work by other designers (James White, Chuck Anderson, Scott Hansen, Eduardo Recife, and a bunch of others) so I can learn new things as well. In 2007 I was playing with brushes in Photoshop and created a nice space scene, and then I posted a tutorial on my blog showing how I created it.
A few months after that tutorial I received an email from one of the largest publishers in Brazil asking me if I wanted to recreate that exact same scene for the cover of one of their magazines.
I thought to myself, if I hadn’t published that tutorial, I would never be hired to create a cover for that magazine.
Illustration for Wired
After that experience I was convinced that it was merely a coincidence, or beginners luck as they say, and would never happen again. Nevertheless I stayed true to my idea of practicing and sharing to not only learn more but help others as well.
In one of these practicing days I decided that I would have to create an abstract scene using vectors. So I spent a few hours in Illustrator and came up with a very cool design using only vectors, then in Photoshop I played with some textures and boom! The design was done and it was nice.
A few months after that I was checking my email and I saw one from the guys over at Wired Magazine UK telling me that they were inviting designers to create the cover of one of the sections of their magazine. They also said that they saw my tutorial and really liked it and invited me to create a version of that illustration for them.
Once again the same idea came to mind, without practicing and sharing that never would have happened.
In 2008 I was writing a Photoshop tutorial for a popular web site, and that same year MSNBC had released their new site with a very colorful background design. I remember that I received quite a few emails asking me how that was done and if I could create a tutorial on that.
I took some time and started playing in Photoshop trying to recreate that effect. I learned that we could create that same sort of effect using the Fibers filter with Motion Blur. So I created the tutorial, published it, and it was a big hit.
Almost three years later while checking my email I saw this message from a designer over at MSNBC saying that they use my blog for inspiration and saw some of my tutorials including the MSNBC one I had created. They invited me to come up with a background for their new web site design. I was totally blown away.
These three examples show how important it is to practice new things and to evolve through personal projects especially when you’re just starting out your career as a graphic designer, illustrator, or digital artist in general. Working on projects for ourselves allows us to do what we love and to follow our passion, because we are our own clients.
However, perhaps just as important as practicing is to share what you learn. In the past I used to do my personal projects and keep them in a vault just for myself, waiting for the great day to show the world what I was capable of. That day can sometimes take longer than you think though. So why only keep it to yourself?
Sharing my technique and skills allowed me to evolve quicker and to apply the things I’ve learned on professional projects with clients that otherwise I am sure I would have never gotten the chance to work with.
“Put yourself out there, being awesome is long tail” – Allan Branch
To see more from Fabio and his team, check out Abduzeedo.com