I’m not the only one who decided to endulge in my passions while majoring in a not-so-practical concentration in college. I’m sure half of our reader base did the same thing- English majors, Painters, Classics, I’m looking at you. Some of us are lucky enough to be living our dream and making rent off of our artistic skills. For the rest of plopped out into the career no man’s land of NYC, pursuing our interests fruitlessly, there’s always dog walking, waitressing, and drug peddling. Just kidding. Or am I?

That’s why I decided to take a class at 3rd Ward, Bushwick’s media-based adult education center. A self-taught Photoshop dependent, my futility impulses and minor ADD kick in whenever I try to learn a new program. For the member price of $209, I took a three-week, 9-hour intensive, Intro to Illustrator, and learned how to navigate the software better than I could have in 50 hours on my own.

 Having an artistic eye, creative impulses and working knowledge of Photoshop are great credentials, but let’s face it- in this economy, unless you know the full Adobe suite, you’ll be extremely lucky to find even the most basic job in creative digital media. So, I unbuckled my belt and prepared to get my creative Mojo a-flowing.

My class was taught by patient yet prudent Laura Splan, a Brooklyn local, and a renowned multi-media artist. Her own digital work revolves around patterns printed onto fabrics and assorted animation video projects. After browsing her website I learned that she’s not only a teacher at 3rd Ward but also has lectured at the likes of Stanford and The Museum of Art and Design.

I was undeniably the youngest student in the class, but was among others with similar interests and many who wanted to benefit their own businesses by stepping up their online/print presence by creating logos, business cards, designing personalized graphics, etc. I wanted to learn to use my abstract design drawing/painting style in an online format that I can built print profits off of. That’s the dream, at least.

In the 3 weeks of learning, plus much practice at home, I now feel confident with my Illustrator skills – enough to list them on a resume even! I learned the basics of the program, the various tools (pen, pencil, brush, etc), the swatches (patterns, gradients, symbols) and text formatting. With a bit of creativity and some practice, Illustrator isn’t the intimidating villain I imagined it to be. Having a patient teacher to guiding me though each step and providing practical advice on what to use each tool for really made a difference.

In fact, I’ve started to design my own line of greeting cards to give as gifts for Christmas. On a barely-employed budget, or even on full-time-with-benefits budget, imaginative homemade gifts are a fabulous money saver! Maybe there’s even a way to turn a profit in the future.

3rd Ward is waiting for all of us creatives who might be intimidated or unequipped to tap into the right brain. And, they’ve got something for everyone- from Furniture Design  to Perfume Making  to a class on Renewable Power Sources to Nutrition!  Plus, don’t be shy- go in to take a tour of the space and they’ll reward you with a $25 gift card. That’s how much they want to you harness your Creative Mojo.