Level Up Your Skills With Lynda.com and Your Library

With most everyone spending more time at home lately, now might be a good time to finally learn that new skill you have been meaning to add to your repertoire.

Your local library, even with physical branches closed, is an excellent resource for learning new skills. For example, many public libraries offer patrons (library card holders) free access to Lynda.com, the popular, video-based tutorial site that features courses on a huge array of subjects. A quick scan of the offerings includes an eclectic mix of topics, including basic computer skills, management, languages, public relations, and many, many more. No matter what your interests are, you can probably find a course that will work for you.

I am currently taking a course on Digital Marketing, hosted by Anson Alexander. It’s a beginner-level course, and it is not going to earn me any kind of certification. It is, however, teaching me a lot about digital marketing that I did not know before, and helping me decide if I want to take that next step and get certified. I would say it is a very worthwhile use of my time.

One of the many useful courses offered by Lynda.com

One note: Lynda.com was purchased by LinkedIn in 2015, and rebranded as LinkedIn Learning. The service is still offered under the Lynda.com name by libraries, and in order to access this free resource you will probably need to go through your library’s site. Check with your particular library for the details.

The Art and Science of Cyanotype

Cyanotype by photography pioneer, Anna Atkins

Looking for a fun, kid-friendly (or maybe just easy-for-adults) art activity to occupy some of your quarantined day? Something that functions as a science lesson, as well? Look no further than cyanotype printing.

Although cyanotype is, technically, a photographic process, special chemicals or a darkroom are not required. In its most basic form, all that is needed is some easily-obtainable, specially-coated paper, some interesting objects (leaves, flowers, glass trinkets, lace) and sunlight.

The basic process is simple and safe enough for even very young children. Simply pick a sunny spot in which to place the paper, arrange the objects on the paper, and expose for a few minutes (around 2-5, depending on the strength of the sunlight). Next, remove the objects and wash the prints in regular tap water to develop the image. You will be left with a light image on a blue background. Kind of like an architectural blueprint, which uses the same basic process.

While cyanotype is very simple in its basic form, you can get more elaborate with it, if you desire. For example, you can print photo negatives on transparency film with your home inkjet printer and use those to print your own photos as cyanotypes.

You can also buy the chemistry needed and coat your own watercolor paper, or even fabric and other objects. This is only slightly more complex than using pre-coated paper, but allows for some very interesting results.

If you would like to learn more about the cyanotype process, alternativephotography.com has a wealth of information, including free downloadable materials. This Instructables article details the entire process, including printing a negative and coating your own paper.

It’s simple, safe and fun – give it a try!

Hang On

I saw this in the window of a house in my neighborhood, as I took a walk yesterday afternoon. A terrible photo, I know. But, the sentiment is something I think we should all keep in mind – now and always, really. Thanks, wise neighbor.

Evermade’s technicolour, rainbow-themed posters by leading artists to thank NHS workers

Brighton-based design studio, Evermade, has once again commissioned artists for its latest poster series, this time raising money for the NHS and standing in solidarity with key workers during the COVID-19 pandemic the way they know best – design.

Besides the positive messaging, these lovely, colorful posters offer vibrant visuals that definitely brightened my mood this Monday morning. Via Creative Boom.

A wonderful, typography-filled performance of “Peter and the Wolf”

This was just what I needed on this rainy quarantine day. From the always awesome The Kid Should See This:

In 2014, Camera Lucida and Radio France teamed up to create a series of classical music-filled apps for children. One of these shared Sergei Prokofiev’s Pierre et le loup in a typography-filled adaptation by Gordon (Thierry Guernet), Pierre-Emmanuel Lyet, and Corentin Leconte. It’s a stunning version that mixes animation, musical symbols, and musicians, featuring the National Orchestra of France, conducted by the maestro Daniele Gatti.

Don’t let the name fool you, The Kid Should See This has plenty of wonderful stuff that adults will enjoy, too.

Movies and Documentaries for Creatives

Most everyone is (hopefully) staying at home much more these days. But, even if you are working from home, you probably have more free time on your hands. Netflix and Prime Video offer a multitude of mindless distraction, but why not watch something that could improve your art or inspire your next masterpiece?

The Pixel Surplus blog has put together a list of the “27 Best Movies & Documentaries For Creatives”, and while it does contain some fairly well-known choices, there are several on the list that I, personally was previously unaware of.

So, pop some corn, fire up the smart TV or laptop and widen your design horizons.

What I’m Listening To: Lullatone

I don’t often listen to music when I do design work. Depending on the task at hand, I sometimes find it distracting. However, lately I have been engaged in some tasks that don’t require a great deal of concentration, and was happy to have recently discovered the music of Lullatone through the wonderful SwissMiss email newsletter. The most recent edition featured a link to a marvelous web app called Patatap. Created by Shawn and Yoshimi of Lullatone and programmer Jono Brandel, it’s a soundboard of sorts, allowing you to make music (or just noise, in my case) by typing at your keyboard.

And check out some of Lullatone’s music. It’s soothing and upbeat and innocent – just what I need in these uncertain times to ground me and keep me focused.