Art Classes

Design Garden’s Foundation course – a review

UPDATE 2019 to my Design Garden Foundation Review: I no longer work on Clip Art or vector illustration but I stand by everything in this review. All that I’ve learned in the multiple classes I have done with Design Garden is still useful to me as I went back to traditional materials. These are the only classes that teach you illustration and design combined.

Last week I completed Design Garden’s Foundation course.

This class opened my eyes to two things:

First: you don’t have to take a thousand classes to learn what you want, you just have to take the one GOOD class that will teach you the basics.

Second: once you find it, follow it to the letter, do the assignments, the exercises, visit the resources and use what you’ve learned. Engage with your fellow students and then, do something with your new found knowledge.

How do you find that class? You may ask.

Well, normally students of a class are the best ambassadors. And I’m not talking about testimonials, I’m talking about existing work. Something that was made during the class and shows what outcomes are possible.

Sabina Radeva, the creator of this class, doesn’t really need to do any gimmicky marketing tactics. The work produced by her students convinced me to enroll.

If you feel intimidated

However, It took me several months to make the decision to do so. Not only because it’s a hefty investment but because by looking at other students’ work, I was seriously intimidated. I didn’t think I could learn to draw and use illustrator well enough to produce a good set of graphics in six weeks.

Most of all, I knew it required work, and if I’m completely honest, since I’d started using Skillshare, I had fallen into the terrible habit of “binge-watching” classes without actually doing any of the suggested projects.

After seriously wanting to try my hand at Sabina’s class, and after visiting all her student’s websites and though I was feeling terribly insecure about my drawing abilities, I gathered my courage and enrolled.

It’s not an overly difficult class, but it certainly delivers its promise: it’s the foundation to begin making artistic design graphics. What makes it so special is that Sabina is a truly a great teacher.

She doesn’t skimp on sharing her techniques, her knowledge and her experience. She offers personal feedback on each assignment and she encourages you in a down-to-earth, practical way.
She takes you through the process of coming up with an idea, doing the research, producing enough variations of drawings to create a set or collection, processing in Illustrator and selling your work.

Best advice from the class

One of the best advice she gave went a long the lines of: none of that “practicing more” until you’re ready. You draw, you process, you package, you sell.

Quickly I learned that if you tend towards self-deprecation, you really shouldn’t bring that into the classroom, this class a part from being content rich, really encourages you to create a revenue stream from your drawings and does not let you entertain your insecurities.

If you have creative energy and you’ve been trying to do something more abitious with your drawings I can’t recommend Design Garden’s Foundation class enough.

This is the first set of graphics I produced during the class. I hope it’s up to par with my fellow classmates.

Camping illustrations

My Etsy shop is now open and my first set is for sale, many more are coming up!

Update: I believe Design Garden is no longer teaching. But if you’re looking for some commercial illustration classes you can’t go wrong with Domestika!

6 Comments Add New Comment

  1. Brigitte says:

    Great review of the course, Luisa. Thank you. I have to tell you that I saw the image of your first set of graphics before reading the text of the post and my very first thought was “oh my goodness, how intimidating. I wish I could draw and mix colours like that!” I’ve been wanting to do this course for a long time. While I’m still a way off being able to afford to do it, your review has made me keener than ever. Good luck with your Etsy shop, and I wish you much fun and fulfilment in this new adventure.

    1. says:

      Hi Brigitte,

      I couldn’t afford the class either. In fact, when I was ready to take it I lost my job, but I just decided I would not buy shoes, or even a new winter coat (I live in Montreal), I’d stick to my old stuff and just pay this class. The price itself is a motivation. I was afraid that at the end of it, I would regret spending so much $$ but quite the opposite, I think that it was a great investment! Now let’s see if I can sell some cliparts!

  2. Dewi Citra says:

    Hello Luisa!
    I’m Citra, a fellow Design Garden-er
    This is trully a great review, so straight and honest. Your beautiful piece made it complete.

    I want to write a “good enough” review about Sabina’s classes, but I think a lot of praise wouldn’t be enough to describe the classes. I’ve learned so much from the classes she offered. And I need to tell you that I started as a total beginner at 2013 and I was among her first students. Since 2013, the skills I got from the foundation course have helped me in many design and illustration jobs that I could not imagine before (blog/logo design, children books, surface design). Her class really worths my investment.
    At last, I really recommend you to take Trend Workshop to keep the momentum going.

    Keep the good job,

  3. Thank you for the review! I’ve been diligently saving for Sabina’s foundations class for months and I’m so excited to have finally saved enough and plan to start any day now. Your work is beautiful, as are all the students’ work I’ve seen. I am excited (but nervous, like you were) to begin. :) Best of luck to you.

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