Beginning Levels and Bearvalanches: Why Professionals Should Retake Beginner’s Classes Once in a While

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I enrolled in a Video Production/Multimedia program to gain new skills to pay my bills. One of the required classes in the program was Graphics for Multimedia, which was basically a beginning-level Photoshop/Illustrator class. I might have a BFA in Graphic Design, but alas, the credits didn’t transfer and ultimately it was just easier to do the class (I’ll stop here, since I don’t expect you to care about the details). At any rate, after taking this class, I feel like retaking a beginning level class in one’s profession is a great thing to do to gain perspective.

I expect everyone feels a little stagnation from time to time, I certainly do, and seeing evidence of how far I have come in my skill set is a great professional confidence boost. I admit it was quite flattering to have the beginning level students admire my work. Also, since I am experienced in the tools we were using, it was refreshing to approach the assignments from a self-challenging and fun-seeking angle.

In addition to the emotional part of it, there are practical reasons to revisit the beginning level. Humans are lovers of routines, and as such we tend to get stuck in our own workflows, and sometimes those workflows are not necessarily the most efficient It’s interesting to get an outside instructional perspective on more efficient ways to do what we do, and in the latest version of the tools we use. Also, there’s the opportunity to help the other students (and they say the best way to master a skill is to teach it to someone else).

If you’re the networking type (I know I should be, but I’m just not), it’s a good networking opportunity. You get to meet a new batch of professional creatives and (if you’re feeling up to it) find someone to mentor. Many professors of creative subjects also do freelance projects, so they are another excellent contact in the industry.

So, If you think revisiting beginnings is something you’d like to do, I encourage you to check out your local community colleges. They have some wonderful resources, and it’s an inexpensive way to go.

Here are some of the assignments (I’m definitely not posting all of them, there was a spot in the term where I was pressed for time, and those are not as show-worthy). I’m not exactly saying any of these pieces are portfolio pieces or anything, but they were fun to make, and I like to share the fun.

Using the Puppet Warp and Quick Mask Tools:
Our goals for this assignment were to 1) Edit around hair, and 2) Wrap an object around another object using the Puppet Warp Tool.



Trace a piece of fruit in Illustrator (paying attention to textures, light, etc.) without Live Trace:
The professor suggested simple fruits, but I made it more challenging by picking a horned melon:



Make a movie poster for a fictional movie in Photoshop, and incorporate 3D text:
Okay, I had an unexpected advantage to this one, because I made a joke on my Twitter about this fake movie, and I kept my source files. However, the image I did at that time was a shitty little image that only served the purpose of getting the joke out of my head. The newer one is way better. It even has a punderful tagline:


Now go make things!