The Academy: Creative and Business Courses

Below you’ll find my courses in creative and business skills.

I help creatives — whether student, hobbyists, or practicing pros — get better at business, sharpen their creative skills and build their design knowledge.

I’ve helped train and launch hundreds of successful hobbyists and pros who are pursuing their creative passions and earning a livelihood from their work. 

My approach to teaching is structural. I focus on the fundamentals and principles of design, color, drawing, design history and critical practice to build effective design and imagery.

I encourage research and innovation — curiosity, curation, and creation, in that order.

I emphasize creative problem-solving, deep-dive effort, and self-reliance.

Alvalyn taught me character, skills and how to think. A lot of what she taught me is how to see.

John Beck
Student, Elements and Principles of 3D Design

Creative Skills Courses

Elements & Principles of 2D Design

An introduction to design theory and aesthetic principles — the form language. Topics include patternmaking, figure-ground perception, color interaction, line, texture, shape, scale, balance, rhythm, emphasis, and organization, which are necessary for visual communication. This course develops your perceptual skills, and creative awareness. You’ll gain exposure to a range of current and historical design forms. Lectures are delivered weekly via email. Assignments and critiques are optional.

Skill level: beginner, intermediate



Elements & Principles of 3D Design

An introduction to aesthetic theory, this course includes discussion and exercises in design elements, organizing principles and perceptual skills as they pertain to real space. Creative awareness, problem-solving, process, and technical ability are stressed. Principles taught are the basis for all 3D design fields. Assignments are oriented toward understanding and applying design principles.

Skill level: intermediate. I recommend you take Elements and Principles of 2D Design prior to this course.

Introduction to Graphic Design

This foundation course presents the basic principles of composition, typography, structure, visual communication, and career options for graphic designers, surface designers, web designers, and more.  Topics and assignments focus on layout, grid systems, typography, symbols and meaning, information hierarchy, working with photos and illustrations, and graphic environments.

Skill level: beginner, intermediate


Color Theory

Covers the perception of color, its permutations, and its dimensions, using traditional as well as contemporary methods, emphasizing individual experimentation through lab exercises and demonstrations. Topics include the color wheel, digital color, Munsell and Albers theories, perception, symbolism, and psychology, pattern-painting techniques, and the applications of color theories to art, architecture, and interior design. Student projects and lectures combine intense exploration of theories with hands-on experience in a variety of media.

Skill level: beginner, intermediate


Color for Digital Designers

Just when you thought you knew all about color… there’s more to know. Designers and artists who use computers and tablets to create their art or for digital production need to know more than the color wheel and color mixing. I created this digital color course to address everything from file types to rendering intents to digital printing. 

Skill level: beginner, intermediate. Software ability is required. 


Drawing Basics

Develop your perceptual and drawing skills for successful communication. This is a short course in the basics. Topics include using the pencil, sighting, gesture, contour, structure, quick sketching, drawing from life and from reference, compositing, drawing from memory, light and shadow techniques, linear perspective, value, proportion and structure. Exercises cover drawing from observation and photographic reference.

Skill level: beginner



Linear Perspective: A Visual Approach

Build your ability to draw what you see with accuracy using a visual, perception-based approach to linear perspective. Starting with a basic understanding of how we see and understand what’s in our visual field, we apply concepts of form and space in drawing objects, environments, and living things.

Skill level: beginner, intermediate


History of Graphic Design

Gain a broad understanding of design and its dynamic past to discover inspiration for the present. Survey the history of visual communication, design’s sociopolitical and cultural contexts, and the artistic and technological characteristics of various movements. Concepts of inspiration, curation and creation, authorship and experience are addressed. 

Skill level: beginner, intermediate, advanced



Business Skills Courses

Crafting Your Creative Brand

This personal branding workshop teaches designers, creatives and artists to develop or revitalize their own distinct, marketable brands out of their values and driving motivators. We focus on self-discovery, and storytelling to make an impact and build a long-term creative career. Students explore their aspirational goals, core values and distinct approaches as the basis for designing their visual brand identity. They focus on presenting a consistent message that’s relevant to clients, collectors, fans and patrons. Approaches to marketing, content creation, curation and establishing one’s authorship are explored. Students develop brand strategies and visual which they can implement immediately to start becoming known.

The Thriving Creativepreneur

Designed to help independent creatives thrive in the booming gig economy, this course explores the total picture of a freelance business. We’ll addresses four pillars of owning a creative freelance or remote business: mindset, management, messaging and marketing. You’ll learn the crucial mindset shifts needed to transition from “creative” to “ creativepreneur”. You’ll set up foundational structures and frameworks of a solid business model, and gain strategies and systems to make a living from your creative work. 

Crafting Your Professional Portfolio

Presenting a cohesive and flexible body of work is necessary for entering the professional creative fields. Whether your intent is to find a job or create an independent business, your portfolio is vital to your success. This course guides you in developing a flexible, professionally-presented and targeted portfolio showcasing your unique approach and point of view. You will select and refine your work and develop printed and digital portfolios. You’ll explore approaches to marketing and promoting your book to ideal clients and employers, and create or update your website and online portfolios and directories. Marketing pieces include a business card, printed and email promotions, and resumé/CV. Upon completion of the course, you’ll have what you need to promote your work to employers and prospective clients.

I have learned more from this design course then any other I have ever taken. 

Karen Tabor-Regis
Student, Elements and Principles of 2D Design