I fell in love with design around 2014, but I didn’t really commit to teaching myself the skills until about a year later. I have the kind of personality where I get very frustrated when I’m not immediately good at something, then I
waste spend a lot of time trying to learn every little thing about how to do something. This often leads to me feeling overwhelmed and moving on to something else entirely. While I’ve managed to stick with design—albeit with many starts and stops and tangents—one of my favorite tricks is to hoard free resources wherever I can find them. When I find myself stuck in a project, often I’ll just flip through the free design resources I’ve picked up over the years for a forgotten typeface or dainty watercolor leaves in the perfect color palette. I’m sure there are infinite other places to pick up free resources, but these have been my favorite in terms of quality and consistency.
Creative Market was one of the first sites I discovered when I started learning design. I love the affordable fonts, mockups, and illustrative resources. Having access to this pool of resources at different price points saves me from feeling like I have to learn every illustration or painting technique to expand my design style. The best part for me is that the majority of the shops are owned by artists trying to make a passive income selling their art. For access to the weekly free goods, create an account and visiting the Free Goods portion of the site. I also subscribe to their newsletter, which reminds me to download my free resources each week.
I found Teela’s YouTube videos when I was just getting started. I knew the basics of Illustrator, but I needed guidance and motivation to start creating and honing my skills on a daily basis. Teela’s tutorials and pep talks have been such a great motivator in my design journey, and if you sign up for her newsletter, she often shares free design downloads along with valuable design tips. If you’re at all interested in learning how to create your own font, I’d recommend jumping on her newsletter list so you can find out when her Learn Fontmaking course opens up again. I’m currently working my way through the class, and I hope to share my first font soon!
Simply sign up for their community emails, and you’ll receive a free pack of high-quality photos from rotating photographers each month. The emails are well-crafted, thoughtful, and a joy to read even without the freebies inside. DtS also offers a premium membership if you need access to their library of 2,000+ photos.
Disclaimer: Free things are great, but there’s also something to be said for paying for the hard and beautiful work an artist has done. Design is like any other industry, where the environment you create is the also the one you get to work in, so be sure to support other artists and use their products fairly. And if you find something you love, spread the word. I’d love to hear your favorite sources for design elements—free and paid!