PSDFan Extra

Interview with David Leggett of Tutorial9.net

Hi David. Firstly, I just wanted to thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Anytime mate! Thanks for having me.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your design background?

I’m a self-employed Web Developer & Designer from Atlanta, GA. My background is actually very limited, as I’ve never attended a art/graphic design/typography course up to date. For the past 10 years, I have been doing my best to learn how to develop and design better websites. I’d like to think that I’ve improved a bit over the years, but there is still plenty out there I’m looking to discover.

Many of our visitors here at PSDFAN are clearly interested in learning Photoshop, and I’m sure that many have heard of your successful website Tutorial9.net. Could you give us a quick history of how the site got started and how it’s reached it’s current level of success?

Tutorial9 is actually very young – and it’s grown much faster than I had anticipated. I’ve always has a strong passion for teaching and design, and several years ago I started writing tutorials off and on for a website called “GreyCobra”. There was a whole lot wrong with that project, and it eventually faded away into nothingness. In late 2007, a good friend and I started talking about building another similar site, originally with the name “Photo9″, but during our conversation we decided that we should give it room to expand in the future – appropriately naming it Tutorial9 (in homage to the Phrase Cloud9).

I’ve gathered some talented friends and colleagues of mine who also enjoy teaching, we’ve learned from our previous mistakes, and in May 2008, officially unleashed Tutorial9 upon the world. I find it strange that it’s achieved such high viewership already, and strongly attribute that to our incredibly helpful authors and viewers – along with our striving to build a better Tutorial website, with foundations such as our “School of Photoshop” feature.

What provides you with the inspiration to write such great tutorials on a regular basis? Are there any particular types of media that you draw inspiration from?

That’s definitely the hardest part of my job, and really just requires that I spend hours developing concepts and searching for inspiration on a day to day basis. Most of my inspiration probably comes from other designers I find online – seeing how they do something, and then aiming for a similar effect. I also find myself being inspired from Magazines I read (such as WIRED, which has some brilliant designers), friends, videogames, and I was actually just inspired by an invoice for my cellphone recently. I guess it just takes concentrated observation to find the inspiration I need to develop a new Tutorial idea.

There are a lot of different design trends going on right now (as there is always). Do you have any trends that you consistently enjoy using?

Well, I wouldn’t call it consistent, but Retro is definitely back in style. Even the candy bar packaging as of late has been reverting back to a retro look. I don’t usually aim to go with the trend, but I’ve definitely found some inspiration from that direction recently.

Personally, I have found playing with really simple lighting to be enjoyable on a more frequent basis.

If you had to share one ultimate bit of wisdom that you’ve learnt through your years designing what would it be?

I hardly consider myself wise enough to offer such advice, but perhaps that is exactly the way I should answer. You’re never finished learning. You’re never a perfect designer/author/artist/etc. If you are, then you ought to leave, because I have nothing to offer you.

Do you have a particular method of designing that you use to get you from concept to outcome, or do you play it more by ear? Please try to outline your basic work process.

First off, Coffee. It’s a trade secret.

I typically will spend several hours working on a concept (or sometimes, groups of concepts). Between brainstorming, finding inspiration, and putting that inspiration to paper, it just takes time to develop a concept worth writing about. After I do find said concept, I typically will recreate it, and polish it a bit more so that it’s up to quality standards to be shown on Tutorial9. After I have a nicely polished concept, I’ll dissect it from beginning to end in an effort to produce a high quality Tutorial that nearly anyone will understand. Even with the work involved in building screen captures (that are also of high production quality), videos, linking to ‘pre-requisite’ tutorials for less experienced viewers, and simply writing something folks will enjoy reading, the writing portion is usually the easiest bit. It just involves some organization and planning.



(The new Tutorial9 design, coming soon…)

What’s the best thing about living off of your websites?

Being self-employed is wonderful since I get to set my own goals, and follow my own personal endeavors. It does involve a lot of work though. It’s mentally straining at times when you have to push yourself to work 60-70 hours a week, not because your boss tells you to, but because YOU tell yourself to. That’s an part of being self-employed that I don’t think people really think about or appreciate until they’ve been there, but it’s not fair for me to really point fingers since I myself have never really been in a position of work under someone else’s thumb.

Would you recommend any sites other than Tutorial9 to those trying to learn design/Photoshop?

There are way too many to list obviously, but from my personal experience in teaching in a classroom environment, I find myself directing people to websites such as Pixel2Life and Good-Tutorials to help get creativity stirring. I think it’s important to enjoy learning whatever it is you want to know more about, and tutorial indexes kind of give viewers a good starting point from which they can find a site that suits their needs better.

On another note, I don’t mean to be tooting my own horn too much over at Tutorial9, but I’ve been told by several professors, professionals, and friends that they keep pointing beginners to our School of Photoshop. We don’t have a “School of Illustrator” or “Photography” yet, but I’ve also seen a nifty guide to learning Illustrator in 30 days (http://www.istockdiary.com/illustrator/learn-illustrator-cs3-in-30-days/) which is still in the works, but looks promising.

Do you have any more sites of your own in the pipeline that you would like to mention?

Tutorial9 is my only design related endeavor, and is where most of my commitment remains. On the side, I also work on a personal blog called “TheLeggett” (http://www.theleggett.com/), which is actually currently documenting my design journey for the reconstruction of Tutorial9, and I have another idea that’s been creeping on me for a while that I plan to hopefully start in the next year or two called “AMGamers” (http://www.amgamers.com).

Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview, and I wish you the best of luck with all of your ventures. Do you have any final words for the readers here at PSDFAN?

Thanks for considering me to be worth your readers time. I hope that with my limited experience, some folks take at least something away from this! Keep experimenting!

Remember to…

Remember to check out Tutorial9 and hopefully you will broaden your design knowledge even further!


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About the Author:

Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.

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15 Comments:

  1. [...] you don’t get enough of me as it is already, I suggest you stroll by PSDFAN to check out the interview posted there – and also to check out some of the cool awesome tutorials they’ve posted [...]

  2. Amy says:

    Congrats David! Great interview and thanks for the link recommendations. :) Nice to see your quality site is getting recognized.

  3. Tom says:

    Glad you guys enjoyed it :)

  4. Appreciate you posting the interview and sending some love my way Tom. Keep up the good work you do here!

  5. Tom says:

    Thanks David! Anytime :)

  6. Raj says:

    Thanx for a great interview Tom :) I really enjoyed reading it. Good luck both of u.

  7. Tom says:

    Cheers Raj, I’m glad you enjoyed it :)

  8. Pesh says:

    I’m kind of a newbie at Graphic Design. I still hold down a day job, but my employer is also my main design client. I do all their design work except for the website, working from home nights & weekends.

    I’m a completely self-taught visual artist, and I now work almost exclusively in digital media (mainly Photoshop), so I rely heavily on online study & tutorials. David’s website, Tutorial9, has quickly become my favorite over the past few months. You can feel the friendliness come off the page, and most tutorial sites (or blogs in general) come off as “Better than thou,” slightly egotistical. I almost feel like the site is a design buddy, and I’ve referred T9 to dozens of colleagues & friends.

    Great interview, and great job to both of you. Tom – not to leave you out – I found this site through T9′s “interview” link, and I’m finding your site to be excellent as well. I’ll be passing this around as well.

    Thanks guys!

  9. What an inspiration..I’m always blown away by how young some of the internet entrepreneurs are and that really is one of the greatest things about the internet.. it has nothing to do with how old you are or how you dress etc..it’s about the knowledge you have to offer and the limits of your creativity.
    It’s obvious David has fists full of knowledge but I believe it’s his creativity and his ability to teach that makes him a success. I wish him the best.
    Teaching is an art in itself and giving back is always rewarding.
    Good Luck David!

  10. Tom says:

    Pesh: Yeah tutorial websites have always been a great inspiration for me as I’m also self taught. I’m glad that you’re enjoying Tut9, it’s definitely one of the absolute best resources out there. David’s also a great guy, and I agree that this comes across via his website. Thanks for the kind words about PSDFAN also :)

    Davageekdesigns: It’s a great thing how age doesn’t matter on the internet. Many of my biggest inspirations are very young (David being one of them) and it’s a real motivation. Thanks for commenting.

  11. I wish I could only work 60-70 hours XD

    Danny

  12. diyet says:

    Thanx for a great interview Tom :) I really enjoyed reading it. Good luck both of u.

  13. Nice interview dear, I’m too fan of tutorial9. Nice to have you here David.

  14. Stephanie says:

    I really enjoy hearing about others and their background, particularly when they are part of the same industry as me. I think that there are some interesting points in here and some modest elements which are nice. If you are good and think you are amazing then sometimes you can lack in your work eventually, but if you keep pushing your own boundaries and constantly learning new things to take in even more knowledge and skills then thats great. I will be checking out tutorial 9 now thanks to this blog. Thanks!

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