Teacher Stories: Faye Brown

Meet Faye Brown, a graphic designer with over 14 years of experience in motion graphics, branding and illustration. Faye teaches a highly popular online Typography class called "The Art of Typography: Communicate Effectively Through the Power of Type." We had a chance to sit down with Faye to learn more about herself and her class!

What’s your story, Faye? I loved art as a child, any chance to draw I would. I knew that if I could have a career in some form of art or a creative job I'd be happy. So I pursued my dream and went to art college to study for a Graphic Design degree at The Arts University, Bournemouth in the UK. It was a great course and really focused on typography. We basically spent the first year barely touching a computer, instead cutting out letters, making things, learning about composition, learning about graphic design in history. At the time, I was itching to get started on a computer but looking back this grounding was so influential on me and my passion for good typography.

After my degree I began working in motion graphics and worked with a fabulous typographer called David Earls. He went on to write a book interviewing some of the top type designers of today. His desire for typography really passed down to me and I was hooked on all things nice type.

After 10 years of working in motion graphics and animation in Soho, London I decided to go freelance. I now work on a variety of projects from animation, branding and surface pattern design.

I have a little boy who has really started to inspire my design work(!) and another baby on the way.

Tell us a bit about your online Skillshare class. When I heard about Skillshare I thought this could be a perfect chance to curate my own course and loved the idea behind it. I've taken quite a few Skillshare classes myself! I always thought I would end up teaching in some form although I had never really thought about doing it online before. After taking a few online courses myself I started thinking this is something I would love to do. Skillshare makes that easy so I could completely focus on the course content - for me that's the fun part!

The Art of Typography is broken down into units covering a history and anatomy of type, branding, photoshop and illustrator tutorials, creating your own typefaces, and communicating your message successfully through use of typefaces, layout and composition. The final project encourages students to illustrate their favourite quote or lyric using type. Whether you are a designer wanting to know more about typography or someone completely new to design, my course is aimed at making typography fun and interesting. In one of the units the students have to create their own letters (based on their initials). I love seeing what everyone comes up with, we've had some beautiful hand drawn letters, an amazing one made out of cutlery, ones using fabric, stones - it's not all about sitting at a computer. The creativity of the students is brilliant!

I really wanted the course to help people understand the importance of good typography. As a graphic designer I used to take my background and education in typography for granted but I realised that not everyone was lucky enough to have that initial influence. I've met some amazing designers and illustrators who have little understanding of good typography or are scared to used type in their work. I think it's such an important string to a designers bow that can make or break a design - so I relished the chance to teach a course in typography that could inspire or help people use typography more effectively in their work, whether that's design, illustration, presentations or animation.

What were your favorite elements of the class experience? At first I used to log on every night to see if there were any new projects I could offer feedback on. It was also great to see fellow students giving advice and commenting on each others work. I still try to feedback on every project.

I have loved receiving the positive feedback and hearing how the students are much more confident using type now. Knowing you've made some sort of difference in someone's working life is a rewarding feeling. Also I learnt so much putting the course together. There were some areas I was a little rusty on so recapping on the history of printed type, for instance, taught me a lot too!

It was my first experience recording myself and giving tutorials too. The more I did, the more confidence I gained and I even started to enjoy talking to myself!

Do you have any tips for other teachers on Skillshare? Yes, firstly if you are thinking about doing a course - DO IT! Like I said above I've found it very rewarding in many ways.

Plan your course well, I can't tell you how many initial drafts of my course content I wrote up. And think about how each lesson helps towards the final project.

Put yourself in the student shoes - when putting your course together think about the key points you are teaching them in each unit. Is it interesting? does it involve them? It's great to talk about your past experience to use as an anecdote if it helps with the topic or lesson but remember the class isn't about you - its about how you can teach or help others.

Be passionate about your subject - you have to be engaging in your delivery for that to rub off on students. This is hard if you haven't had much experience in recording yourself… I practised a lot and created a lot of bum videos before being relatively happy. As my confidence grew, I found myself talking more naturally.

I guess the biggest hurdle for me was learning how to market myself and the course. Skillshare is great but you also have to put a lot of work in yourself to promote your course. It's good to have a network or a following. Promote yourself on blogs, twitter and other social media. And offer discount codes too! Keep the course fresh by offering challenges with prizes. I recently teamed up with another skillshare teacher MaJo Bautista V (course - Reign Repeats) and we created a Valentine's Challenge to create a typographic greeting card with matching repeat pattern that could be used on gift wrap.

I also created a Facebook page for all the students taking the course. We share links and work on here. It's also a good place to talk about typography in general, we had a funny discussion about comic sans just the other week! It's a great way to keep in touch with everyone.

How has teaching this class impacted your professional endeavors? I found myself doing a lot more typography based work and design. Whilst I always loved using type and finding new typefaces, since doing the class I've noticed myself incorporating more typography in my design work and investing in some new typefaces!

The course has got exposure on a few blogs including Going Home To Roost, Typography Dailyand Tigerprint.

Perhaps the most exciting thing to have happened since doing the class is that I've created a typography Masterclass for Module 4 of The Art and Surface of Pattern Design run by Rachael Taylor and Beth Kempton. I was thrilled to be involved as this is really where my initial interest in online classes started after taking part in Modules 1-3.

After recording everything for the Skillshare class I found it came a lot more naturally doing these videos - practice makes perfect!

On a day to day level, I try to check in and keep up to date with the students projects and the Facebook page. I try to feedback on every project if I can. Although that might be a bit tricky over the next few months as we are expecting a baby. I encourage the students to feedback on each others work too as that's so important.

It's been a very rewarding experience for me and has given me the bug. I keep thinking of possible new classes to run!