DIY Art School – Review By Lisa Firke

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  • March 18, 2015

In one of her recent newsletters, Lisa Firke wrote a short review about Design Garden Classes. Lisa has taken several of my classes and she is a wonderful artist with diverse, interesting work – from traditional art media to modern graphic design. It is always a treat to get to know a person better in these classes and observe different facets of their creativity. I was delighted to read her review! It is reprinted here with permission.

Hmm. I began taking classes at the Design Garden and then I opened a new digital design shop. This timing is not coincidental! Since taking the Design Garden Foundation Class (and its brilliant followups, the Trends Workshop, the Color Workshop, and the Lecture Labs), my ideas about what is possible in the field of digital design have expanded. Better yet, I got my enthusiasm back. Here’s why:

1. A teacher with great credentials and the ability to inspire: Sabina Radeva is both a skilled graphic designer herself and the founder of The Ink Nest, a vector graphics boutique that is many cuts above what is usually thought of as “clip-art”. The work featured in the both the shop and on the course website is simply beautiful, and, as advertised, combines the sweet sensibility of hand-drawn illustration with the versatility and practicality of the vector format. I went from being skeptical about the viability of selling digital graphics as standalone products (after a decade of bundling my design services with website production) to very much wanting to create my own boutique graphics shop.


2. A well-thought-out curriculum and pleasant learning environment: No matter your level of experience with drawing and/or Adobe Illustrator, I’m confident that the Foundation course will raise your game. The course teaches a workflow that is comfortable and easily adapted. Too many (or not enough) ideas? Focusing your inspiration using mood boards and an awareness of current trends may be the answer. Put off by the complexity of the Illustrator software? Learn just the tools and techniques that are most useful for taking your drawings from paper to screen. What do you do once you’ve created graphics you’re proud of? The module on packaging and selling your work is full of insider information and advice.

3. A community of fellow artisans and honest, constructive feedback: This isn’t the course for you if all you want to hear is “that’s nice.” You’ll find your classmates wildly talented and supportive, but also ready to go deeper if you want. Sabina herself is laser-focused on pulling out the best work you’ve ever made, and she does so by making clear observations and specific suggestions for improvement.

Highly recommended. Start with Foundations (even if you don’t think you’re a beginner) and then try one of the other offerings. I plan to continue in the fall with Illustrating Picture Books.