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DDIY: Don’t Do It Yourself
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By Raschelle Hines

 

Pulling together any project from start to finish is a daunting task—especially when you’re a one-man team. But, do you really have to be? During my short career as a graphic designer I have learned more than a few valuable lessons. The most important one is keep it simple. Second, don’t do it all yourself. The second is easy once you’ve developed a network of creative communication tools and professionals.

My first chunk of advice is do not DIY from scratch. There are many tools out there that will simplify the design process. Not a designer? Not creative? No worries—leave that to the tools I’m about to introduce, none of which require you to download software. A great one to start out with is Canva.com. Canva offers ready-to-use design elements such as photos, icons and graphics, along with templates and layouts. Easily create a poster, brochure, postcard, business card or art for social media and the web.

Canva is quick, easy to use and very affordable. Among the many free items, there are some you’ll need to pay for at the low price of $1 per. In addition to these great resources, they offer an online school that covers a variety of design topics. There are also tutorials to show exactly how the program works. All you have to do is take a few minutes to sign up (no subscription necessary), select the type of project, and create a beautiful and professional product.

In addition to creation tools, it’s great to have high-quality images to work with. One of my personal favorites is Unsplash.com. All of the photos on Unsplash have a Creative Commons Zero license, which means they are free to use and modify in any way and no attribution is required. They upload 10 new images every 10 days. All images are high quality and downloadable. Unsplash is just one among many. Check out Pexels.com, Pixabay.com, and StockSnap.io. These are all ones I personally use. For even more resources go to Makerbook.com (a hand-picked directory of the best free resources available online).

Now that you have a great photo, what software can you use to edit it? Most people’s first thought is, “Oh, I must need Photoshop but, I lack those skills.” This is not true, especially with the amazing online tools available. PicMonkey.com is great for quick edits, adding filters, and cropping. In addition to these features, you can edit exposure, add a texture, or even add graphics to your images. Make a quick postcard or an image for a bulletin. PicMonkey will guide you in selecting the correct dimensions, and downloading the final product is easy.

Want to learn more about the design process? Head on over to Skillshare.com, Lynda.com or helpx.adobe.com (if you’re interested in using Adobe’s Creative Suite). Skillshare is an online school built from a community of teachers and students. It’s much more than design—explore classes on writing skills, email marketing, business and photography.

The best part is you can learn at your own pace from anywhere on any device. Most of the lessons are short, under an hour. It’s a practical product anyone can utilize. Use the site for free or spend $8 per month for access to everything. Skillshare is One for One, so for every yearly membership purchased, they donate one to a student in need.

Similar to Skillshare is Lynda.com, which is very expansive in the classes and resources it offers. It not only covers design and Adobe’s Creative Suite, it includes classes about Microsoft, small business, writing, marketing, web and more. It’s a bit more expensive than Skillshare at about $25 per month for the standard plan. So before you commit to a membership, try it out for one month free. And for those wanting to dive deeper into Adobe, check out helpx.adobe.com to find tutorials on all their software. It can be exciting to learn new techniques and expand your skills.

Now you have at your fingertips—for less than $20 per month—an entire creative suite. But don’t stop here. This is only the tip of the iceberg. You’ll be amazed at all the tools out there! Use them and keep expanding your creative network. To start, add me to your network. Have design questions? Need some advice on a project? Email me, raschelle@outlookmag.org, call 206.459.4980 or send me a text.

Raschelle Hines is the graphic designer for OUTLOOK magazine in the Mid-America Union Conference.