Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Learning By Doing

Today I am filling in for my dad (who is sadly on his way, with my mom, to the arctic northeast) by teaching his set design class. My job: To help the students learn how to use Photoshop.

I have never taken a class in Photoshop or any other graphic design medium, but I am a self-taught Photoshopper. I design my own websites and bookmarks, I do the web designs and promo literature for my parents and occasionally help out friends with an ad or postcard design. I feel like I'm pretty Photoshop-proficient.

The main difference between being self-taught and professionally trained, I think, is the ability to teach others. If someone says "Can you teach me Photoshop?" or "Show me how to create a website!" I pretty much stink. I can't sit down and say "Okay, first thing you have to do is..." I can solve almost any problem, answer any question that comes up, but I can't just teach someone Photoshop.

I wonder if it is the same with writing. Although I learned to write from a series of fab and not-so-fab teachers, I learned to craft story all on my own. I read craft books and went to workshops and studied articles and analyzed the stories of others to learn from their art. I can answer questions that aspiring writes pose, but I've never sat down and tried to teach someone else, start to finish.

So tell me? Are you a self-taught master of ... something? What and how did you teach yourself? Do you think you could teach others to do it too? I'm curious.



Location:OSU Theatre Design Lab


Jessica E. Subject said...

Over the years, I have self-taught myself many things, simply by working at it over and over. If I have a question, I'm not afraid to ask someone who "knows," but I like to figure things out on my own.

In my writing, I'm trying to learn on my own, by also studying craft books and listening to advice from authors, agents and editors. I do rely on my critique group and partners to find areas where I am lacking. Then I try to improve again.

TinaFerraro said...

I feel rather self-taught in writing, as well. I learned the most by reading tons of books and engaging in conversations with others in the craft. And it's often hard for me to put into words what I do and why...I just have a good instinct for what is working and what isn't, but not necessarily why.

Good luck tonight!

stephhale said...

I'm definitely self-taught in writing. I'm not a very good teacher with anything because I get impatient pretty quick.

TLC, is there anything you can't do? I think not. :)

nymfaux said...

OMG--You're my HERO!!!--geez--you write all these fantastic (FINtastic super amazing books) AND can do photoshop!??!!??!

I am soooo blown away---Your website and bookmarks are FREAKING amazing (AMAZING)---I just assumed that you had a professional designer. I am completely blown away. WOW. WOW. WOW.


I don't know that I'm a "master" at anything...but I do pick things up pretty quickly--that's kind of how I figured out Word and Excel, and now, my blog--I did what I needed, and as I got better, I figured out more, I would show friends different things, and they would show me, and I would just kind of store it all up, a lot of the stuff I knew how to do from Word, I transferred to how I do things on my blog. And then when I looked at other people's blogs, I started to piece together how to do it on my own. I'm so excited that lately I've even started to recognize a little bit of code and apply it to my blog. I can't necessarily write my own code, or anything, but now that I understand it a little better, I can figure out where I need to go so that I can do it... if that makes sense?

As a kid, I could just look at the Lego or Lincoln Log buildings on the pictures and copy them by myself.

I'm that way with a lot of crafts, too, like embroidery--I just kind of pieced it together, and then when I got better, I read books and studied pictures so that I could do even more. The same with loom knitting (knitting and crocheting are another matter--I ALMOST get it, but I just need a real person to show me).

With writing...I don't know...I was always a kid who made up stories when I played with toys, and with my friends, and when I was falling asleep--And I always read a lot. I know what I like, what makes a good story for me, a lot of times I work on it in pieces and kind of puzzle it together...This is kind of the first time I've tried to work on such a big puzzle, though, I've mostly done short stories, or beginnings, so middles and ends are still kind of new to me.

Oh, and photoshop is BRAND NEW to me!!! I'm really curious about your class!!!---The thing is, I have a friend who knows a lot about computers and will go on and on--but until I've had a chance to look at something, play with it a little, figure out what it's kind of supposed to do, I won't ABSORB what he's telling me; it'll just kind of gloss over. But once I have a little time to get the gist of a thing by itself, then I can go back to him and ask specific questions, and then it'll start sinking in.