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Anytime mate! Thanks for having me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…)
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.
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.
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 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 check out Tutorial9 and hopefully you will broaden your design knowledge even further!
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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