The change of season has me feeling an urge for more productivity. So I’m trying something new. Instead of binge-watching TV in the evenings, I’ve been binge-watching classes on Skillshare, an online learning community with over 3800 classes. You can take the classes anytime, from anywhere, and they’re taught by top experts across a range of creative fields, like Julia Turshen on baking, Ellen Lupton on design, and Guy Kawasaki on startups (and right this minute, they’re offering a promotion where you can try 2 months of Skillshare Premium for free.)
For much too long, I’ve daydreamed about refreshing my design skills with a textile design class, but felt my schedule was too busy to make it work. This new platform has changed everything. The classes are short and split into bite-sized pieces so they’re not overwhelming. I am really into it. I have over 25 classes saved up on my watch list. There are so many I want to take. Ben Blair saw how much I love it, and he started taking classes too. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.
Introduction to Designing Repeat Patterns in Illustrator (52 Mins)
The first class I watched was about surface design and creating patterns. Taught by Elizabeth Olwen, a Toronto-based designer who creates really wonderful wallpapers and fabrics. Her ideas for gathering inspiration were do-able and smart and I made a note to pick up this book. It was really helpful to see her process and the technology she used to go from step A to B to C. She starts with a drawing, then takes a photo with her phone, then traces it on an iPad app, then brings it into Adobe Illustrator. She creates a pattern right before your eyes, from beginning to end — making mistakes, showing how to fix them, experimenting with color palettes, and even showing how to prepare files for printing.
On Skillshare, you can watch the classes at normal speed, slow speed, or fast speed. Slow speed was really ideal for helping me to follow along when she was switching quickly back and forth between Illustrator tools. And of course, fast speed is perfect if you want to get through a class really quickly, or just need to review. I felt really confident after taking the class, like I could definitely do this, and if I forget a step, I know I can go back to re-watch and review.
Italian Chef Secrets: How to Make Perfect Thin Crust Pizza (52 mins)
Ben’s first class was about thin crust pizza, taught by Nick Anderer, Executive Chef at Marta & Maialino. Ben Blair has become our main dinnertime chef over the past few years and wants to master pizza crust (we miss our New York pizza days!). Here’s what Ben says, “Whenever I have really good pizza, it is the crust and the sauce that are the kicker. And everyone says it’s ‘just so, so simple.’ There’s this unmistakable sauce on great pizza that tastes very simple, but I can never get it, and don’t know how to get it. Do you know what I’m talking about? I was hoping to get a good answer for those by taking this class, and I did. So count me satisfied on those counts. After that, it’s just fun to watch Nick’s confidence and reassurance. He goes through the basic process for making the dough, the sauce, and tips for doing it all at home. And just when I thought that was all, he demonstrated with a carbonara pizza — brilliant!
These classes are ideal for learn at your own pace. The classes are split into bite-size pieces, making it easy to pause and answer an email or help with homework.”
Interior Styling: Style Your Space like a Pro (42 mins)
Another class I love is about interior styling, taught by Justina Blakeley whom I adore (she spoke at Alt Summit last year and I was over the moon to meet her!). I already love styling and have had a lot of practice at it, but I knew I would get some good stuff out of this class because Justina is not afraid of color or pattern, and her style is super inspiring. In the class, she starts by quickly introducing 8 styling principles and then coming back to them over and over again so that you really understand how to apply them to each space in your house. She tackles beds, coffee tables, sofas, bookshelves, and more — all the spots in your home that you really want to shine. This class was a great example of Skillshare’s encouragement to learn by doing. Each Skillshare class offers a project or challenge for students to take part in, and in this class, Justina has you empty your bookshelves completely and then style them in real time with her help.
Seeing Justina teaching, and thinking of Alt Summit reminded me, on Skillshare, anyone can teach a class. If you have a skill or technique you’ve mastered, you can become a Skillshare teacher too. In fact, there are tons of classes on Skillshare about how to create a Skillshare class, how to be a good Skillshare teacher, and even how to make income as a Skillshare teacher.
The New Business Toolbox: Help Your New Business Do It Right The First Time (64 mins)
Ben Blair really enjoyed a class he took about creating a new business. He was looking for tips to help with Teachur.co, his startup. The class was taught by famed marketer and entrepreneurship expert, Seth Godin. Ben says, “So I’ve been a Seth Godin fan since I watched this Ted talk, and I felt a little awestruck in the class. It really felt like Seth was sitting across from me giving compelling advice with great stories to sell the big points he was making about entrepreneurship. He was very down-to-earth and straightforward about challenges of starting a business; he speaks from a deep well of experience, including plenty of failure. So, this was by no means a cheerleading course, there were lots of sobering insights about debt financing, getting VC funding, challenges of cash flow, etc.
Something I have admired about Seth Godin is how he re-frames marketing or business challenges. The question I have been going from in finding talent is: “How do I word the Craigslist ad?” But Seth suggests that the proper question ultimately is: “What will it take to have an ongoing stream of outstanding candidates — people who are super excited to come work for you?” And ends with: “When you can build a company with people who aren’t looking for a job, then you know you’re on to something.” It’s a great class.”
If you’d like to jump in and start taking classes too, I have a special offer just for Design Mom Readers. Skillshare is $10 per month for unlimited classes, but right now you can try 2 months of Skillshare Premium for free. That’s an amazing deal for access to thousands of classes.
I really hope you give it a try because I want to hear your class recommendations. Maybe we can take a few together and discuss our favorites here. How does that sound? And I’d love to hear what you’ve been wanting to learn lately. Which class would you take first?
This post is sponsored by Skillshare, an online learning community with over 1.5 million students. Their mission is to provide universal access to high quality learning.