I did it. I got a job.

I’ve been working full-time for a few weeks now, and I’m finally settled in. I live in a cube, I drink coffee everyday, and I can actually afford to buy a few nice things. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m still living with my dad, I’d consider myself an adult!

Unfortunately, the cubicle life does stifle creativity a bit. Actually, a lot. I’d be lying if I said I picked up a pencil every day to draw. The challenge now is to keep working on my creative twist. I’m not quite comfortable enough at the office to bring in my watercolors and paint in my down time, but I manage to doodle in the margins of my notebooks a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like my job! But it’s not my dream… that would be too easy. I’m still working towards a greater goal. I mean, aren’t we all?


Learn to Draw

When I first started my graphic design journey, I read a bunch of articles on how to become a graphic designer–and this one by Karen Cheng was by far the best. Her advice made sense to me. I even bookmarked it and revisit it regularly!

The first step in her article is learn to draw. So, I did what she said and I learned. I bought the book You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler from Amazon. Then, I ran to Michael’s and bought a sketchbook, some pencils, and an eraser. Buying new materials is my favorite; I’m always looking for an excuse to shop.

I sat down and I started his lessons. Here are my favorite takeaways from his book and also my own experience:

1. Drawing isn’t a talent, it’s a skill. While some people might seem to be artistically inclined, it’s probably due to years of practice. Even if that practice is doodling in the margins of a notebook. With a little guidance, you can learn the technical aspects that make drawings look realistic.

2. Little habits add up. To be honest, I didn’t complete every lesson in the book. And I certainly didn’t do it within 30 days. But I tried to be consistent by practicing a little bit every day, even if was just for two minutes. After a while I noticed I could draw much more quickly and get the shapes I wanted the first time around. Also, you’d be amazed how quickly a sketchbook fills up when you draw at least one thing per day. It’s awesome to flip through my sketchbook and see the progress I’ve made over time.

3. It’s ok to copy. It’s ok to copy! When I first started drawing, a little part of me felt guilty about copying photographs or another person’s work. I wanted to draw original things, but they ended up looking cartoonish…. and just wrong. You don’t have to feel guilty about copying. Think about musicians. When you first start learning how to play an instrument, you don’t write your own songs. You play other people’s songs until you feel comfortable enough to try your own thing. When you base your drawings off of existing artwork, you come to conclusions more quickly than if you had taught yourself.

Converting TIFF to JPG on a Mac

In a previous post I published a screenshot from my Mac. However, this wasn’t done as simply as you might think!

The application I used to take the screenshot, Grab, saves the file as a TIFF. And unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t accept photos in a TIFF format. This presented a graphic design problem: how do I convert a TIFF file into a JPG?

Here’s how:

1. Open your TIFF file in Preview.

TIFF in Preview

2. Go to “File” > “Export”.

3. From the “Format” drop down menu, select JPEG (or your desired format).

4. Hit “Save”!


Stunning Stock Photos


For me, photographs have always been a barrier to graphic design. Either I don’t have pictures of the content I want, or the quality is subpar… and even though I’ve started learning how to take professional quality photos, I still have a long way to go before I can remotely consider myself a photographer.

Maybe you’re in the same boat. Maybe you’ve acquired a DSLR camera, and maybe you’ve started learning the ropes of photography, but you want to learn other aspects of graphic design simultaneously.

Luckily, there are plenty of beautiful and FREE stock photos out there, you just have to know where to look.

Unsplash publishes 10 gorgeous stock photos every 10 days, and they are all absolutely free. The photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means you can copy/modify/distribute the work, even for commercial purposes, and not have to ask for permission. How cool is that!

Picjumbo is the entrepreneurial project of photographer Viktor Hanacek. Viktor started releasing his photographs for free, one per day, to get his name out there. The site was so successful it ended up launching his career! So thank you Viktor, and please keep the photos coming.

New Old Stock
New Old Stock provides vintage photos from public archives. All photos are available for personal and non-commercial use. To see if you can use a photo for commercial purposes, check the institution’s rights statement through the link to the original Flickr posting.

Other fantastic resources include: PixabayPicography, & Gratisography

Happy downloading!

Photography Basics

Camera 1

A mildly interesting fact about my life: my mom is a photographer, and her boyfriend is a photographer professor at the local community college. Yet, up until recently I had zero knowledge about photography!

As a kid, I didn’t have much interest in the subject, and I think it’s one of those things where you have to be intrinsically motivated to learn.

So, I decided to take the plunge and teach myself.

I utilized my resources. I found a DSLR camera, and I asked my mom’s boyfriend for his class lectures and assignments. I googled, and I read, and I absorbed as much knowledge as I could.

And because I’d love to save you some time and spread the knowledge I acquired, here’s a high level overview of what I’ve learned so far!

Exposure is the basically the brightness and darkness of a photo. It’s determined by three factors: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Aperture is the set of blades in the lens that control light entering camera. Shutter speed determines how fast a curtain rolls over the image sensor. ISO controls exposure using software.

Large aperture = brighter, shallow depth, low f-stop (F/3.5)
Small aperture = darker, full depth, high f-stop (F/22)

Fast speed = darker, less blur, small fraction (1/1000)
Slow speed = brighter, more blur, large fraction (1/60)

High ISO = brighter, more noise, high number (3200)
Low ISO = darker, less noise, low number (100)

Camera Modes
Icon modes don’t work for professional quality photos. Does anyone actually know what those icons stand for? Because I don’t. You’re better off without them.

The money shots come from creative modes. Aperture priority is probably the most useful, at least in my experience, since it helps you control the depth of field.

Program mode: set aperture and shutter speed, manual ISO
Aperture priority: set shutter speed, manual aperture and ISO
Shutter priority: set aperture, manual shutter speed and ISO
Manual mode: manual aperture, shutter speed, and ISO

My Creative Twist

Creative Desktop

Here I am. College grad. Unemployed.

I’ve spent the past two months searching for job. And even though I’ve had many interviews, I have zero offers. None.

I know, I know. Two months isn’t that long. I know I’ll find something soon. But don’t worry! This isn’t another blog about resumes and job applications… There are plenty more credible sites on that topic.

The point is, I have oodles of free time on my hands.

While it would be very easy to spend my time marathoning Netflix TV shows, I want to put some of this time to good use. I’ve decided that each day, I’m going to spend some time learning and improving skills that will bring me closer to my dream job.

What’s my dream job, you ask? Well, I’m not exactly sure. But I would love to work in creative project management! And to do so, I want to teach myself art & design skills and build a portfolio.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Graphic design
  • Photography
  • Drawing & painting
  • Coding
  • Writing

Slowly I’m going to dive deeper into these areas. I’ll keep you posted on the methods I’m using!