Here it is! Finally I’ve written a review of Make It In Design, Module 1. In a nutshell, I loved the course and would recommend it to designers who are looking to start a career in surface pattern design, but are not quite sure exactly how to build up their skills or focus their design work.
See below my pros and cons (although you’ll see that my cons are more like ‘things to be aware of‘).
A lot of guidance to help you discover your style
I loved, loved, loved the first few weeks of the course where we experimented with mark making and worked to start identifying our own, signature style. I’ve struggled for years to identify a style, and thought my only option was to keep making patterns until something stuck. Through this course I learned that there are exercises that I can do to help me move closer to finding my style.
Tons of hands-on activities
Get ready guys, because a lot of the work you do for this class requires you to put down the laptop, and get busy working with your hands. This was a lot of fun, and I found that I learned a lot more and discovered new ways of approaching the design process by working through the hands-on activities.
Helpful Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop demonstrations
You don’t have to have Illustrator and Photoshop for this course, but I think it is a huge help if you at least have one of them. Each week Rachael walks you through how to build designs digitally on the computer. And I have to say, her instructions are great – she’s a wonderful teacher. While some of what she went over I already knew, there were a few tips she shared that have radically changed how I use the computer as part of my design process.
The opportunity to learn more about how Rachael and other well-known designers work
I love storytelling and hearing how creatives have built successful careers. One of the benefits of enrolling in this course was that I got a behind the scenes glimpse into how Rachael and some other really great designers work. It was so inspiring to learn about them and their design process.
A lively Facebook Community
When you sign-up for the course you have the opportunity to join a private Facebook group. Here you can interact with classmates, share your work, and ask for help when you get stuck. It’s pretty awesome. I found that members of the group were all really supportive and encouraging. It felt to me like a safe place where I could share some of my frustrations and ask for help. And the best part? Even though it has been weeks since the course ended, folks are still active on the Facebook group and are still sharing ideas and supporting each other. Very cool.
You are learning Rachael’s method of building patterns
I don’t think this is a negative, per se, as I think Rachael has a great approach to pattern building. And I think most of us are drawn to the course because we love the way Rachael designs. However, speaking to module 1, I think it is important to note that the course focus on students’ learning Rachael’s design process and just lightly touches on how other designers build patterns.
It’s a big time commitment and at times the course can feel rushed
As I started the first week of this course I quickly learned that each day would bring new content to review and activities to complete. And with my commitment to writing this blog, and my full-time job as a stay-at-home Mama, I quickly fell behind. While I love that the course is literally jam-packed with content, inspiration and hands-on activities, I wish I had realized before I started how much time I would need to set aside each week to work on it. And I know it wasn’t just me. A lot of other students in the Facebook group mentioned that they were playing catch-up too.
I will say that this isn’t a huge deal, because you can access the course content for quite a while after the structured weekly sessions end, and Rachael does encourages you to approach it your own pace. As well, I’d prefer that they throw too many lessons and too much content at me vs. not enough. However, if you don’t keep up with the weekly assignments you can feel a bit left out of Facebook discussions and won’t qualify for any of the giveaways. (Yes – giveaways! I should have listed that in the Pros.)
Few opportunities to interact directly with Rachael
While there is a very active Facebook group, with lovely, supportive people, very rarely will Rachael pop-in with a comment. The main way you interact with Rachael is by submitting questions at the end of each week.
However, I will say that while folks may be bummed that they don’t get to interact with Rachael as much as they’d like, when she does interact with students it is really great. She is a genuinely kind person and does all she can to help her students.
As an example, a lot of folks in my class were feeling frustrated because they were falling behind with course work. Rachael noticed this and one evening was sweet enough to record a video offering us all tips and encouragment that we should just proceed at our own place. What a lovely thing for her to do.
To avoid frustration, have a basic understanding of how both Illustrator and Photoshop work
I have been playing around with Illustrator for a few years now, and have dedicated the last six months to learning Photoshop. So, when I started this course, I did not feel overwhelmed by the technical, computer-based lessons.
However, if you are someone who has never used this software, I would recommend taking a few classes first so that you know the basics. Doing this will help you avoid a lot of frustration, and will make Rachael’s technical exercises much more approachable and easier to understand.
Best to have a color printer and art supplies at your disposal
So, yeah. I wish I had purchased that color printer I’ve been eyeing before signing-up for this course, as a number of the exercises would have been even better if I could have printed my work in color.
As well, I wish I had unpacked and organized all of the art supplies in my studio. I recently moved into a new house and have not had a chance to organize my studio in the way I’d like. This meant that when I needed supplies for the many (awesome) hands-on activities I had to spend a bunch of time up-front digging through boxes. Maybe you’re more organized than me?
I hope you found this information helpful, and that it will help you decide if a Make It In Design course is right for you. Overall I give it a big thumbs-up.