With the existence of numerous free resources online, self-teaching is made a lot easier. One can learn so many new things even from their own homes. It is one amazing thing that the internet can do. You can have access to whatever information you would like to get. With this, learning is very possible. You will never go hungry in terms of information and you will even be updated all the time. Because of this, even designers and freelancers can go for a career through self-teaching. Although, some would still prefer to enrol in design schools, a big number of designers are merely self-taught.

There are already many successful designers who have learned the ropes of design and have made their own names in the design world through self-learning. They serve as inspiration to millions of aspiring designers who are hesitant to enter the field at first. With their example, more and more people are entering the design niche with guides from the internet and other materials. But of course, learning has to be paired with determination, patience and passion. If you are currently confused about getting into a design school or not, our article Is Schooling Important for Designers? could help you.

Self-teaching is a practice of an individual in order to learn and inform themselves through their own efforts. It refers to self-directed learning or learning on your own or by yourself. A person who is self-taught is called an autodidact or self-teacher. Self-teaching is done by reading books and other materials where he can get the information he needs and by consulting other experts in the field. Each and every one of us becomes an autodidact in some points of our lives. This shows that self-teaching is possible and can even bring you to success if you are determined enough. So, in order for us to balance the weight of self-teaching, let us look into the pros and cons of it. Then we will give you some tips on how you can do self-teaching and we will also give you some other good readings in order to help you for begin your self-education.

Pros of Self-teaching

Let us check on the advantages one can get from self-teaching. At some points, we will be comparing it to getting formal education or schooling. Here they are:

1. Acquire updated information.

Acquire updated information

When you are self-taught, you learn through what you read in the internet. With lots of new information you see online, you will surely be updated with the current trends if we speak of design and freelancing. You will be able to get into a handful of information that will help you learn. Also, you can choose what you want to read and search for answers to your questions in an instant.

2. Given more freedom.

Given more freedom

When you are self-taught, you are given all the freedom to do what you want to do. You do not need to follow schedules. You do not go to classes on a certain time. You can do anything anytime you want. You also do not have home works to do or projects to accomplish. You take hold of your time and choose your activities.

3. Spend less.

Spend less

Another good thing about self-learning is that you spend less money. You do not pay for tuition fees and you do not spend money for projects and other school stuff. You just need your internet connection and then all the information you want will all be there.

4. You can decide on pace of learning.

You can decide on pace of learning

When you are in school, you have to wait on what the teacher will be discussing for you. But when you are self-taught, you decide on what to read and what to learn at the moment. When you are done on something, you can proceed into another new learning. You don’t do that in school because you have to rely on what the teachers will be giving you.

5. Can create your own style.

Can create your own style

Some people who went to school tend to stick with the styles of those who teach them. We really cannot deny that the teacher’s styles are the ones that they also share to the students. There are times that students carry those styles with them and might even have a hard time to create their own style. When you are self-taught, you can build your own style easier since you will be experimenting on your own.

Cons of Self-teaching

Of course, if there is a good side, there will always be a downside. After reading the pros of self-teaching, we will now be showing you the disadvantages of doing it all by yourself.

1. Uncertain of what else to learn.

Uncertain of what else to learn

One downside of self-teaching is that there are some things that you are actually unaware of. You do not exactly know what you need to learn and you will only realize that when the need arises. You will merely be reading and learning things that you need at the moment and then just learn other stuff whenever you already need to apply it to you work. You won’t be starting at the basics like what they do in school. You’ll learn in random.

2. Learning is limited to tutorials.

Learning is limited to tutorials

One way of teaching yourself design is by watching or reading tutorials. You will merely rely on what others say. Well, you are lucky if you bumped into good tutorials but if not, you’ll be sorry. Also, what you will be applying to your work is limited to how you understand the tutorials.

3. No diploma.

No diploma

Some work requires a diploma. When you are self-taught, you do not have it. Also, you won’t grab hold of other documents that are needed by other employers. This means that you won’t be able to get some jobs that you want. But you can still look for those that do not require a diploma. There are actually many freelance jobs that hire designers even without a diploma.

4. Need to establish a network.

Need to establish a network

When work time comes, you would also need to work hard on your network. You need this in order to extend your reach for clients and to let other people know what services you offer for them. Get to know more about networking in our Ultimate Networking Guide for Freelancers Series. It comes in three parts where you can learn a lot about establishing a network both online and offline.

5. Need to work alone in everything.

Need to work alone in everything

You are on your own. Of course you are! The thought of teaching yourself means that you would do everything. You would look for what to read, study them, practice on them and you will also look for answers to your questions. You would also need to multi-task in order to cope with everything you do. Challenging as it may sound but many designers have succeeded through this.

How to Educate Yourself

Knowing the pros and cons of self-teaching can help you decide if you’ll go for it or not. But as you can see, these pros and cons cannot be a hindrance to your success if you know how to handle your work well. The success of learning depends on how you do it and how unwavering your willingness to learn is. So if you have decided to educate yourself on design, here are some tips to help you do that.

1. Be patient.

Be patient

You need to be patient because you will not be able to learn everything in just one time. Take it slowly, if you rush things, you will not succeed in what you are doing. Successful people are patient and are willing to learn through time. Learning is like eating. You have to bite a small part of it and chew it well before you can swallow it. If not, you will choke yourself. Bite a small part of the lesson and understand it well. After that, bite another until you are able to finish an entire lesson. And that requires patience.

2. Know your design field.

Know your design field

Before you decided to start designing, for sure you are already inclined into something. You might be good in logo designing or maybe you have interest in web designing. You have to assess yourself on which field you are good at. Also, determine which field you have passion and interest to work for because this is important to help you learn.

3. Seek for inspiration.

Seek for inspiration

Look at various websites, magazines or you can even go to different places to get inspiration. Try to check on the styles the designers used in their designs and think of how you can do the same to your work. From that, you can also make your own style and discover new techniques to improve your work. Looking at great designs will move you to work better and to practice a lot.

4. Check online videos.

Check online videos

There are so many videos that you can find online that teaches just anything you want under the sun. Explore them. But be sure to sift well which ones are good because some tutorials are no good at all. Yet there are still tutorials that are really done well where you can learn a lot from. Look for those that are detailed and clearly explain what you have to do.

5. Read tutorials.

Read tutorials

Aside from watching videos, you can also read tutorials. There are helpful articles that also give detailed tutorials for you. Search for them in the internet and you will be amazed to find tutorials that are exactly what you need for a certain task.

6. Check blogs and websites about design.

Check blogs and websites about design

Try to search different blogs and websites about design and you will be pleased that there are actually so many sites about it. Choose those that can give you freebies, resources and other helpful posts on design.

7. Ask then search for answers.

Ask then search for answers

Do not stop asking. If you are confused about something, search for answers at once. Well, Mr. Google is always ready to hand to you answers to your questions. So, you don’t have to worry about it. Whenever you have questions, seek for answers. This way, you will continue learning new things.

8. Read books.

Read books

You can get printed books or eBooks. There are free eBooks on design and freelancing but you can also buy some affordable eBooks that can give you a lot of great information. If you prefer hard copies, then go to the book store and buy books related to design. Try to pick some magazines too, they’ll also be very helpful.

9. Join design communities.

Join design communities

Check on different design communities online and offline. For online communities, join forums. Ask questions and read answers to others questions. Drop in an answer if you think you know the answer. You will not only get new things from that but you will also start building your community. For offline communities, share with fellow designers what you have learned and listen to their own experiences, too. This will help you develop your skills.

10. Practice.


Practice a lot. It is said that “practice makes perfect”. That is true. Hence, aside from all the reading and learning that you do, make sure that you apply it. The things you learn will be useless if you do not practice designing. Even if you do not have projects yet, try working on some business cards or try designing a website. Design a lot. You can use this for your portfolio and you can also develop your skills while doing that.

Hard? Nah. It is not hard at all. Like what we said, all you need is determination, patience and passion. If you have all that, nothing is impossible. Also, try to look into other self-taught designers so you will always keep the fire burning inside you and you won’t stop learning on your own. Let your dream serve as a destination for your hard work. For sure, you will never go wrong as long as you trek the right path. You should also be open to learn other things aside from what you already know so you will improve continuously.

Helpful Guides for Self-teaching

Now that you already know what to do in order to teach yourself, allow us to provide you articles that can also help you with your study. These are previous posts we have written here in Naldz Graphics that would no doubt fuel you with information. Check on tips on how to design various projects and other important stuffs for you to learn.

1. Logo Design. Logo designing is one aspect in design that you might want to learn. We have 10 Points to Consider in Making a Logo Design and Are you Guilty of these Logo Design Mistakes? that could aid you for your logo designing.

2. Business Cards. Business cards are needed by every type of business just like how important a logo is. Check on 10 Tips in Designing Effective Business Cards and 10 Reasons Why Business Card Size Matters.

3. Website Design. If you are into webdesigning, then you can read on 12 Things to Ascertain a Good Website Design. You can also keep a professional looking website so that it will have a good impact to the audience. If colors are your concern, our article on Effective Use of Color Psychology in Web Design might help.

4. Magazine Design. Designing a magazine can be one thing that you want to do. You can get some important points at A Guide on How to Design a Magazine Cover that Will Stand Out and Valuable Points to Take Note of in Designing a Magazine Cover.

5. Packaging Designs. Graphic design has so many variations when we speak of output. This includes packaging and CD covers. We have written something about How to Create a Kick Ass CD Packaging Design and 10 Tips on How to Create Great Packaging Designs.

6. Email Newsletter Designs. One good way to promte your website is by using email newsletters. If you decide to design one, then our Simple Steps in Designing an Email Newsletter can help you.

7. Brochure Designs. Want to try designing a brochure? Get guides at Tips in Designing a Great Brochure so you can create one that can be remarkable and effective.

8. Billboard Design. Some designers also work on billboards. You can try one too. Effective Tips on How to Design Billboard Advertisements might help.

Aside from those mentioned, you can also try designing other stuffs. There are many tutorials that you can read online which can surely help you with your designing. But before we finally end this article here are some more things that every graphic designer needs to learn:

1. Colors. Every design you will work on make use of colors. Get some helpful knowledge about it from Things Designers Need to Know About Colors. Aside from that you should also know How to Pick the Right Color Palette for Your Designs.

2. Typography. Like colors, type is also an important element in design. You can get information about it at What Designers Need to Know About Typography and then apply it to your own designs. But make sure that you know How to Choose the Right Typography Font for your Designs so it will be effective.

3. White Space. The spaces all around your design is an important aspect. Get to know the 11 Reasons Why White Spaces are Good in Graphic Design.

It’s Your Turn Now

We actually still have so much helpful articles to share with you but for now, the ones we have shared above will surely be of great help for you already. With the information we have given you, we are sure that you can be succesful with your self-education. And do not forget to apply what you have learned by consistent practice. Even if you do not have some projects to work on, just keep on designing. You will improve a lot from it and soon, you will be the kind of designer you dream to be. How about you, are you a self-taught designer? What are the things you did in order to learn?

Kareen Liez

About the author: A Civil Engineer who has a construction business and a youth volunteer for a civic organization. She also contributes for a local newspaper due to her unwavering passion to write.


  1. Joining communities is a big help to self-taught designers. Thanks for sharing your experience. You are one of those people who have succeed by self-teaching! Thanks for reading Michelle 🙂

  2. You are right Nicolas. If one is really interested to learn, nothing is impossible.

  3. Your point about self-teaching being a “double-edged sword” in getting clients is so right! Many people would applaud you for being able to learn design on your own and they’ll even give you a standing ovation if you will be an outstanding designer. This way, it is like proving to the world that self-study can actually be effective as long as you have the right attitude in learning. Thanks for dropping by Mark 🙂

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