My Favorite (Free!) Design Resources

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’s Free Goods of the Week

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.

Our save the dates were created using watercolor elements that I bought from GraphicsDish on Creative Market, but this greeting card mockup was downloaded for free one week from CM!


Every Tuesday’s tutorials and free design goodies

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!

February’s freebie was a beautiful birthday card to print at home

Death to Stock photography

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.


I love lettering over the beautiful photos from the free Death to Stock photo packs


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!

Design Goals for my 31st year

I recently celebrated my 31st birthday, and I wanted to get in writing some of my goals for the year.

  1. Create a portfolio I’m happy with. This site is my first and foremost goal. For the past few years, the main thing that has held me back from pursuing opportunities in design has been not having a portfolio. It’s a tough one: do you spend your post–day job time creating new work that can showcase your talents and interests, or do you spend that precious time working on creating a portfolio? It’s the same struggle any time I want to buy a new wallet—by spending the money, I’m reducing part of the reason I need and want the thing. I finally feel like I’m in a place where I have a body of work I can be proud of showing off. This portfolio will always be a work in progress, but I’ve been humbled and reminded that sometimes “done” is better than “perfect.”
  2. Be happy with where you are and excited about where you’re going. Every time I create a new design—whether it’s a wedding invitation, an illustration, or a lettering piece—I am torn between being happy with the finished product and looking forward to a year from now when I will be even better than I am today. It can get exhausting to strive for better every day, so I’d like to find a balance between progress and pride in what I’ve already accomplished.
  3. Open that Etsy shop! I’ve been brainstorming and creating for months now, and I think it’s time to finally take the plunge. Much like this portfolio site, I am encouraged knowing that it is all a work in progress.
  4. Learn & grow. OK, so this is a bit vague, and I intend to break it down into actionable steps (i.e., take a class in video editing, research small business taxes), but in general, I want to keep the momentum I’ve found in the last couple years. I am grateful to have a day job that supports me, provides great health insurance and benefits, but I’d love to start pursuing freelance opportunities to expand my skills.

What are your goals this year—design or otherwise?