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
Great stories. Great advice. I’m inspired. Thank you!
Great post Fabio. I have been following your work for quite some time and have found your site to be a tremendous resource. I began using and learning about the programs the same way that you did: by trying to create and mimic cool things that I had seen or envisioned.
I look forward to your posts every day, especially your daily inspiration links!
A great inspiration and a good reason to blog. Scott–thanks for turning me on to this artist’s really cool work!
Great stories. I have been following Abduzeedo on RSS and twitter for a while now and love his style and inspiration. Great that Scott has had a break from photographers on Wednesday. I cant seem to download the psd file though.. tried several browsers.
Ironically I started visiting Abduzeedo in 2008. Big fan! I have been exposed to a lot of things I have only imagined thanks to this ideology. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences.
I really dig your work. Really inspiring. Keep up with these great tutorials.
Firstly I’m sorry to hear about the burglary you had some years ago….It’s always hard to get things up and running after such scene. Have a look at this blog that the guys have produced at work which may help:
I like the way you think and your willingness to do things and share it us is great. Absolutely love your designs of the space scene and the illustration for Wired.
Keep up the great work
I have visited Abduzeedo site just for the inspiration as its quite diverse. Great site Fabio.
great story – great idea! i follow your thought and also try to share my learned experience with the world and other people(only in photography…)
great inspiration – thx
I’m sitting here at work … thinking about my laptops & external hard drives all sitting around the house … available for theifs. I hope they are all safe and sound when I get home tonight. I will do back ups and I will bring at least on EHD to work.
I love your ideas and design. I’ve been considering starting a blog and have put it off. Time to take some action.
Thanks for sharing this Scott.
Your guest blog has really got me thinking. My goal for the near future is to improve my blog for the sole purpose of getting folks new to photography and Photoshop interested in it. I have already help several photogs in and around my area to get started on Photoshop and have helped some on their photo skills.
You are so right about the fact that we are “clients” of social media and we should use it to our advantage. My personal saying is “share the wealth”!
Good luck, Ken
I can’t tell you how much I agree that working on your own helps you when it comes to clients. Not only does it give you practice for future projects, it gets your creativity flowing. I think a lot of people lose sight of this when they get bogged down at work.
Been a fan since the first time I encountered Abduzeedo almost two years ago. Great post, Fabio!
Congrats for your awsome post! You´re one more brazilian guy that really makes the difference. Keep on doing it, Brazil needs names like you and many others to show our capacity to generate knowledge. “MANDOU MUITO!!! PARABÉNS !”
Excellent stuff Fabio!
Great post Fabio, a simple and valuable message.
I’m a long time admirer of your work also. Keep it up :)
Abduzeedo was my first RSS-Feed i have subscribed to.
Great vision, good taste and good people.
Great guest post. I love that you’ve proven that sharing benefits everyone. I’m going to go check out your tutorials!
Loved this post and your whole concept on sharing.
Thank you so much. Great work!
I’d love to check out his website…….his server is getting its workout after a blog post of the Insider !
I <3 Abduzeedo! Fabio, you are genius. Your space work is so stellar. Keep up the great work!