I’ve been a Skillshare customer since 2012, and after all these years is time for a review of their model and the classes you can find in this (now massive) learning platform.
Is a Skillshare subscription really worth it? Lean from my experience of being a customer since way back in 2012
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I am a Skillshare fan. I am working on releasing my first brush calligraphy class there (more about that soon) and I’ve been an ambassador for them for a few months now.
BUT the reason why I love Skillshare does not lay on those relationships, actually, I was a long-time user even before I considered making a class for this learning platform (I bought my first class in 2012), and I was already recommending them way before they contacted me to be an ambassador.
Because of how long I've used this learning platform, I figured I should write a Skillshare review, but before I share some more details with you, I feel like there are some questions I need to answer just in case this is your first time hearing about Skillshare. So you can know what it is and how it works.
Today I will cover:
So let's just right into it!
What is Skillshare?
Skillshare is an online learning platform. Teachers from all over the world and in all kinds of fields (because it's not only for calligraphy, lettering or art), teach classes that you can take remotely, at your own pace. And one of the things I like the most is that they have an actionable-learning experience focus.
Meaning, that most classes are based around a project that you should complete in order to process the knowledge. Making it a hands-on experience and easier to digest.
How does Skillshare work?
Back in the day, Skillshare used to be set up so that you could purchase one class at a time. And while it was the model that most learning platforms maintain now, they are now subscription-based.
The business model of Skillshare evolved over the years and I am so happy that they transitioned to a subscriptions based experience, so now, you don't have to pay each class you take separately.
When they announced the move, I could have not being happier, because I was going to get so many more classes, for about the same price I was paying a year for all the classes I had already purchased.
With the new subscription model, you can pay monthly, or yearly to have access to their whole library of classes. (Can I get a yaaayyy!!!) Yes, you can take AS MANY CLASSES as you want!
If you want to give Skillshare a try, you can sign up with my link and get a FREE Premium Membership trial, so you can check if you like the classes and platform.
Guys! That’s so much free learning! So clean your agenda and get lots of coffee (or tea if you are like me) sign up for an account with this link first to claim the promotion, and start learning!
[ * Important: This offer is limited to those new to Skillshare Premium, not currently Premium members. A credit card is required to sign up, but you can cancel anytime. ]
PROS and CONS of Skillshare
Now that you know exactly what Skillshare is and how it works, there are some points that I would like to make that I've noticed over all the years that I've been a member. And also because no Skillshare review can be complete without having a PRO and CONS list, so here it is!
- The format is very action-focus, and the fact that most classes have a project that you need to tackle will help you implement what you are leaning, and therefor learn by doing.
- They specialize in bite piece classes, so you can pause and come back later to keep learning. This makes it perfect for busy people. And the personalized dashboard that shows you your progress and where you left off is very useful if you are doing more than one class at a time.
- Easily accessible, especially with the app ( I talk more about the app at the bottom of this post). It keeps track of your classes and you can organize your favorites into categories.
- It is very easy to publish a class, and pretty much anyone that has an account can become a teacher, of course making a class is not easy, but they do a great job at making it as easy as possible.
- Most classes are beginner level. This can also be a con, but when you are starting, you want to have classes that are as detailed as possible, and most beginner classes do just that.
- Affordable, considering that you have access to THOUSANDS of classes, the monthly price that you pay for so much knowledge is incomparable.
- It isn't free forever. With my code, you can get a FREE premium membership trial, but after that, you have to start paying. BUT it cost less than 3 coffees a month, so it's not that bad.
- This was also a PRO, and because of how easy it is to publish a class, there can be a mix of quality in the listed classes. But usually, the staff tries to pick the best ones, so they will have a “staff pick” badge, and also that is the reason I put the below list together, so you don't have to sort through everything in order to find GOOD classes.
- Because you are leaning things for a bunch of different teachers, if you watch classes in the same category, it might seem like they contradict each other or just have very different teaching styles. This is why when you buy one big course with everything you want to learn it cost so much more.
- Not many professional classes. Most of the classes in Skillshare are beginner level, so if you are wanting something more complex, it can be harder to find there.
My education background
While attending college in Chile, I had some kind of introduction to letterforms because I was in Design School. I attended the Universidad de Chile, and I have a Degree in Industrial Design, but the focus of my college experience was product design and not letters or anything graphic, even though we were expected to accompany our designs with graphics and flyers.
In Chile, unlike how College work in the USA, you don't get to choose your classes, and each Mayor has a pre-stablished curriculum that you study, so I used to sneak into my Graphic Design mayors friend's classes, all the time – But even though I attended some of the graphic design classes, I never really had “proper” letter construction instructions and my knowledge of type forms and lettering were VERY BASIC.
So, once I moved to the USA and as my passion for letters increased, and my self-practice started to plateau.
I knew that if I wanted to improve I needed to educate myself and my eyes to be able to see the mistakes I was making with my letters, and so I could focus more on proper legibility.
The very first class I purchased for Lettering was on Skillshare (back then the business model was different and you had to buy a class at a time) was taught by Sean McCabe, and as soon as I was done with that one, I purchased The first steps of lettering by Mary Kate McDevitt.
Those two classes were the pillars of the beginning of my lettering career, so I owe a lot to Skillshare (And the teachers, of course).
I know that I had the advantage to learn many of the tools and concepts from Design School, and I do not take that for granted, but as I mentioned, since my focus was on product creation, letters were not as important for me as they are now.
Letters are the way I make money now, I have different shops with physical products and a website with digital products. And I’ve been doing this full time since 2013. (Before that I was doing web design)
In 2012, I was looking for ways to improve my lettering while I was pregnant with our first baby. Since I was so sick, I had to take a break from work that gave me time to cultivate my love for letters even more.
That’s when I first found Skillshare, since then I've taken more classes than I can remember, and I often use it when I am stuck and don't know how to do something, or if I need help in a certain aspect of my business. Because I have used it for so long, I figured it was time to write a proper Skillshare review.
It has been a long evolution for both the company and also for me as an artist, and this is why I had been recommending them even before they contacted me to work with them as an ambassador.
Now that you know why I love Skillshare so much, I also want to share some of the best classes I’ve taken and some classes that are in my queue right now =]
The best Calligraphy classes
1Calligraphy for Beginners 1 – The Foundational Styles of Calligraphy by Jackson Alves – I was first introduced to Jackson's work on Behance a few years ago, and let me tell you, he is amazing! So I -of course- did a happy dance when he announced that he was doing these class series for anyone who wants to start studying calligraphy. In this workshop, Jackson Alves teaches the fundamental techniques of calligraphy to help you create beautiful letters. You will learn an alphabet based on a humanist script from the 15th century and the Foundational Hand created by Edward Johnston in the early 20th century.
2Calligraphy Fundamentals: Letterforms and Flourishing with Seb Lester – As many of you, I first found out about Seb because of his mesmerizing IG videos. So, of course, I was beyond excited to know he released this class. As he describes it, it is perfect for beginners and professionals alike, in it, you will learn to create perfect italic letterforms with a broad nib pen, and finish the class with an elegant and polished piece of writing you can truly call your own. From tiny pen manipulations to careful considerations for proportion and spacing, no detail has been left unturned in this methodical introduction to pen and ink.
3Calligraphy for Beginners 2 – The Elegance of Italics by Jackson Alves – This is the second installment of Calligraphy for beginners. This class is about Italic Letters. Jackson's interpretation of the classic Italic Script from the 15th century. Italic isn't the easiest style to learn, but you will learn some techniques to make the process easier.
4Calligraphy for Beginners 3 – The Brush Pen Letters by Jackson Alves – Brush letters are a more freehand style than Italics or Foundational Hand, and there is a lot more freedom and wiggle room when writing in this style compared to the others. Because of this, and to make the learning process easier and more consistent, you will use the same skeleton from the last class, the Italic letters. So make sure you take the classes in order ;)
Ps. He teaches the fragmented stroke method for making letters.
5Introduction to modern Script Calligraphy by Bryn Chernoff – Join Paperfinger founder for a warm and inviting introductory class on the tools, techniques, and best practices of Modern Style Calligraphy. this is a very nicely paced class to learn calligraphy with a pointed pen.
6Digitizing Calligraphy from Sketch to Vector by Molly Suber Thorpe – Learning natural, purposeful flourishing techniques is important for any calligrapher or lettering artist, but especially for those who combine script with graphic design, as it is in high demand for calligraphy’s application in logo design, book covers, magazine title treatments, and just about all other forms of hand-drawn script.
7Flourish confidently by Audrey Ko – While there is an element of personal style and flair that goes into flourishes, there are some general rules that you can follow and practice so that you can start to launch your own flourishing style. In this class, you'll identify seven different locations where flourishes can be added and look at 25 variations of flourishes by using and building on basic shapes.
The best Lettering classes
1Hand Lettering Essentials for Beginners by Mary Kate McDevitt – This was the very first class I took when I started my lettering journey, is a wonderful class if you are just starting, and I am a huge fan of Mary Kate’s work, and I was so excited to meet her in person at the 2029 Letter West conference. Oh Spoiler alert, I am going to list ALL of her classes here, because there are hidden gems in all of them.
2Hand Lettering: Add Digital Color and Texture for Final Polish by Mary Kate McDevitt – This class is the second part of the essentials class, it's perfect complimentary class and if you feel like binge-watching, I recommend adding all of these to your list. As the name implies, she focuses on color, texture, and how to come up with your own original resources.
3Hand Lettering Techniques: 5 Ways to Better Work by Mary Kate McDevitt – In bite-sized lessons, you'll follow Mary Kate through creating a lettering piece from start to finish, considering the 5 flags for self-critique as you go. She will point out examples, common issues, and fixes along the way. This is the perfect class to learn and be more critical of your work so you can improve faster.
4Vintage Hand-Lettering: Styling Phrases for Timeless Appeal by Mary Kate McDevitt – As you watch her step-by-step process for redesigning a vintage package, you'll learn the crucial skill of how to interpret reference material without copying, this is such an important thing to be aware of. Copy to practice is ok, but never ever share that work. You should only share your original pieces. In this class she also goes over how to practice your own concepting, sketching, lettering, and layout skills.
5Hand-Lettering Workshop: Illustrating with Lettering by Mary Kate McDevitt – This 35-minute class is focused on sketching, you’ll explore 3 different approaches: illustrations alongside typography, letters taking the form of objects and subtle motifs throughout letterforms.
6The Golden Secrets of Script Lettering: Find Inspiration In Your Handwriting by Martina Flor – First, I have to mention that Martina Flor is an amazing lettering legend, so of course I had to include her 3 classes. In this particular class, you will learn her step-by-step process for transforming spontaneous handwriting into a lettering piece. Martina will give you an insight into her process creating lettering and share tips to turn a spontaneous/imperfect handwritten expression into a personal and unique script design.
7The Golden Secrets of Hand-Lettering: Create the Perfect Postcard by Martina Flor – This is another project focused class, and in this one, she will introduce you to the Art of Lettering and will teach you the principles behind letter design as well as effective techniques to think, sketch and create a lettering piece from scratch. Martina believes that drawing letters is something everyone can learn and is willing to unveil all the secrets behind this art. Martina also released a book called “The golden secrets of hand-lettering“, I love the book it has so much eye candy and good tips!
8Storytelling Through Lettering: Exploring Different Styles by Martina Flor – This class is a complement of the previous class I linked to. Martina will share and explain how to create your very personal library of lettering inspiration and work towards finding the right shape for a letter. She will cover the most popular lettering styles, not by showing templates that you can copy, but by understanding the logic behind them and discovering specific methods to work with each one of them. Remember to follow her so you can get notifications when new classes or resources are launched.
9Lettering for Designers: One Drop Cap Letterform at a Time by Jessica Hische – I have been a fan of Jessica Hische ever since I moved to the USA, so I was more than thrilled when she announced this class. In this class, she walks through her personal lettering process and share tips and tricks from throughout her stunning career, you’ll learn how to: Sketch your ideas to create a solid foundation for your design, digitize your work in illustrator, including using handlebars and vector points, identify what makes a letter look organic and replicate it in your own work, critique your work to get those solid finishing touches (even perfect curves).
10Hand Lettering to Refined Vector by Lindsey Meredith – One of the things I get asked the most is the process I use to vectorize, and this class by Lindsey covers pretty much everything. So if you want to learn three different vectorization methods, this is the class. Each method uses a different Illustrator tool as well as a strategic and efficient process for constructing the lettering. The method chosen is dependent on the letterings styles.
The best iPad + Procreate Classes
1Procreate for Beginners by Teela Cunningham – Procreate is now one of the most popular apps for creating artwork on an iPad. With its similarities to Photoshop, it’s no surprise that with every new update, the app becomes that much more powerful. If you’re new to procreate or not an avid Photoshop user, those updates can get pretty overwhelming. That’s where this course comes in.
2Mastering iPad Lettering with Procreate 4 by Molly Suber Thorpe – This class includes the essentials of calligraphy and lettering on the iPad with the Procreate app, plus it provides in-depth lessons about popular effects (like ombré lettering) and challenging skills (like lettering in layer masks). This class starts at a very beginning level with an introductory exploration of Procreate 4’s revamped interface and the cool new ways it interacts with the iPad operating system.
3Level-Up Your Script Lettering by Ian Barnard – In this class, Ian is going to take you through his process to improve your script lettering. You'll learn to tackle common mistakes to make your lettering more cohesive and polished. He'll cover the 5 steps to level up your script lettering that include: Forming smooth connections, Avoiding squashed letters, Weight balance & Contrast, Guidelines, and Spacing. All of this using the Procreate App.
4Intro to Procreate: Illustrating on the iPad Pro by Brooke Glaser – In this class, you'll learn how to use Procreate on the iPad Pro with ease. By the time the class is over, creating digital illustrations will feel intuitive and natural as drawing with pencil and paper. The class covers all the hidden tools and gestures you need to make creating digital illustrations easy and fun. Plus you'll learn how to make and share a cool time-lapse video of your art!
5Fauxsaics in Procreate: Make A Typographic Mosaic by Molly Suber Thorpe – Learn how to make digital mosaics (aka “fauxsaics”) on the iPad Pro with Procreate. This is an incredibly fun illustration technique that has soared in popularity in recent years – and for good reason. Not only are fauxsaics really fun to make, but the end result is extremely eye-catching and rewarding.
6Digital Illustration: Learn to Use Procreate 5 by Jarom Vogel – In this class, you'll create an animated illustration using the new tools in Procreate 5. Jarom will also cover the basics of the illustration and animation process and lots of tips for how to speed up your Illustration workflow using Procreate.
1[Intro To] Watercolor Florals for Graphic Design by Teela Cunningham – If you love watercolors, you’ve likely noticed how popular watercolor florals have become lately. They’re bright, beautiful, and perfect for stationery, branding, social media, packaging, and more. Digitizing them, removing the white backgrounds behind them, enhancing their color, and getting them prepared for those designs can seem a little easier said than done, though. That's where Watercolor Florals for Graphic Design comes in.
2Hand Lettering Techniques: 5 Ways to Better Work by Teela Cunningham – I love the way Teela teaches, she shares awesome tutorials every Tuesday on her website. In this class, she will teach you how to create your own water brush lettered greeting cards using ink or watercolors. She goes over lettering techniques for forming letters with the water brush creating typographic watercolor blends and finding your own waterbrush lettering style. She also has a Masterclass in Watercolor Brush Calligraphy her website in case this was not enough (She offers different packages, check them out here).
3Fun & Loose Watercolor Florals, Leaves, & Butterflies by Yasmina Creates – Have you ever wanted to paint gorgeous watercolor flowers, leaves, and butterflies? You'll learn all that in this class, but not just how to paint a certain flower. You'll get the tools and understanding of how to paint any flower you want in a loose style.
4Modern Watercolor Florals: 3 Ways by Amarilys Henderson – Watercolor is hot and florals reign! Find your style by trying out THREE on-trend, gorgeous ways to paint florals in watercolor. Amarilys will guide you on how to paint a single flower three ways and then she'll tackle a full arrangement in each style.
Photo & video classes
1Take Better Photos of Your Art and Illustrations by Alanna Cartier – Working digitally means, that when you finish a piece of art, you can just click save to share it on Instagram or anywhere else, online or off. Working with paints and pens and pencils on paper is a little trickier! While you can scan your work, using photography to show off those real-world finished pieces on your website, online shop or across social media can make your work stand out.
2Instagram-Worthy Photography: Shoot, Edit & Share with Brandon Woelfel From first inspiration to the final polish, go behind the scenes as Brandon shares his full process for capturing one-of-a-kind portraits and action shots. You’ll hit the streets for a photoshoot and then head back to the studio to make selects, edit daytime and nighttime shots, and prepare a post for Instagram. Every step is packed with helpful tips and unexpected hacks developed over Brandon’s journey from teaching himself photography in his childhood bedroom to inspiring over three million followers on Instagram.
3Product Photography Basics for Your Handmade Business by Kristina Turner – Learn the basics of product photography to take your handmade business to the next level! Crochet designer and photography enthusiast Kristina Turner of Tiny Curl covers everything beginners need to know to set up a DIY home photo studio and shoot seamless and flat-lay photography to showcase their handmade products. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn a simple and easy way to take their own product photography.
4DIY Studio Photography Lightbox + Demo by Tabitha Park – This class takes you step-by-step through the construction and practical use of a simple studio lightbox. Polish your product photography skills by creating a small, portable studio space. Learn how to utilize its features indoor and outdoor, day or night. Customize your box to enhance your photographs for a greater variety. Perfect for beginning photographers, professionals, and smartphone photographers.
Business & productivity classes
1Be Your Own Boss: Strategies for Launching Your Creative Career by Martina Flor – In this class, Martina Flor, lettering artist, and designer, unravels the nooks and crannies of being self-employed, providing practical tools and useful tips to start your own studio. Based on her own personal experience, Martina demonstrates how taking the big leap to freelance work, as challenging as it is, is also a unique opportunity to shape your personal brand from the ground up.
2Social Media Marketing: Top Tips for Growing Your Followers & Going Viral by Cat Coquillette – By leveraging social media in the right ways, you can reach new audiences, grow your following, and reach massive success. Get more followers, likes, shares, comments, retweets… the works. Whether you’re starting a side-hustle or growing an already-established brand, social media marketing is vital for success. This class has some golden nuggets that you should definitely check if you are struggling with social media.
3Productivity Masterclass: Create a Custom System that Works by Thomas Frank – Transform your personal and professional life by creating a simple, customized productivity system with productivity expert and YouTuber Thomas Frank. With over 1.2 million followers on YouTube, Thomas has crafted a career out of helping others get organized and improve their workflow with simple, straightforward techniques. Join Thomas as he shares his tried-and-true process for creating an end-to-end, personalized productivity system that works no matter how much you have going on in your life.
Is Skillshare worth it?
I used to pay for single classes before the subscription model was launched on Skillshare.
I spent SO MUCH MONEY! Getting single classes, not even knowing if I was going to get what I was looking out of it because all you get is a description is the intro video.
Sometimes, I was just looking for the answer to a specific question, I would purchase a whole class, just to find out that the portion I was after didn't cover everything I needed.
I mean, most of the time the classes were worth the investment for me, but a few times I’ve felt like the class did not live up to the expectation, and if you are paying for single classes. I feel like this really has a way more negative effect than if you have the freedom to move on and look for another class that might cover what you are looking for, especially when you are looking for something very specific.
SO, is it worth to have a subscription instead?
Personally, in my case, I can't write this skillshare review without giving this platform a big thumbs up and say: it has been 100% worth it!
But there's one thing that you should keep in mind if you want to make the most out of your subscription.
Don't just buy it and forget it, I've made a habit to tackle at least one class a month, I've done even as many as 4 or 5 classes a month, I set time before going to bed to either practice or watch 15 minutes of a class, sometimes I end up binge-watching if it's very entertaining.
But, it's on you to make the most out of it, the resources are there, you just have to make a habit of going there and learning.
Oh, they also have an app that I use most of the time, BUT!
If there's one thing that they could improve is the app experience, right now, you are not able to read the class description or the teacher description (or about page) in the app, and I don't like that.
I know they are trying to keep it as simple as possible, but I like reading the class description to see if the content I am looking for is included in the class since many times teachers can write way more there than what they can say in the intro.
The App issue is still not a deal-breaker for me, I just have to make notes and I usually make a separate group of classes that I set so I can check the descriptions later once I'm on my desktop.
I am so thankful for Skillshare, I freaking love them, I am always learning and I love that!
I’ve been able to dabble not just on more lettering and calligraphy classes, but also on photography, video editing, social media managing, productivity, watercolors and so much more!
I hope you guys liked this list and if you want to check all the classes I listed later, just pin this post!