14 Creative Skills to Learn in 2017 (and Where to Begin)

Want to pick up some new creative skills in 2017? Check out these 14 popular ways to embrace your creativity along with exactly where you can learn them.  

Though January is the time for making and often breaking resolutions, learning these creative skills is an easy way to keep up. Creative hobbies allow you to build something tangible, they let you flex different mental muscles than you normally would during your day job, and the calming impact of a hobby could be hugely beneficial for your health.

These 14 creative skills are absolutely blowing up in 2017, and they’d be perfect for anyone who wants to embrace their creativity in the new year. While you may have heard of these creative skills before, we know getting started can be intimidating. Luckily, we’ve provided short descriptions of each hobby, and we also show you exactly how you can start learning. Read on and make some resolutions in 2017 that you’ll actually want to keep.

1) Hand Lettering

Photo Source: Mary Kate McDevitt

Photo Source: Mary Kate McDevitt

What Is It?

Whereas traditional illustration focuses on people, landscapes, or (if you’re a 16th century Dutch painter) fruit baskets, hand lettering pieces frame words and letters as the stars of the show. When crafting their designs, hand letterers take great pains to consider the anatomy of each letter. Every little part having its own special features and names (did you know for instance that the dot above the “i” is called the “tittle” and that when someone says “to the t” it’s actually short for “to the tittle”?). Hand letterers also emphasize the visual style of the words they’re writing. The right style can make a lettering piece flourish, and the wrong style can cause one to sink. Some popular lettering styles are: script, fancy serif, ornate, and “on a curve”. Perhaps the coolest part of hand lettering is that it allows you to make visually interesting, emotionally expressive pieces, purely out of drawing letters.

Where Can I Learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Mary Kate McDevitt

The best way to start learning hand lettering by far is by taking Mary Kate McDevitt’s class, Hand Lettering Essentials for Beginners. The class goes over the tools you need, understanding hand-drawn letters, and lettering style. Plus, with over 40,000 students enrolled in the class, it’s a super popular way to learn hand lettering.

Want to up your hand lettering game? Learn hand lettering in Mary Kate's tutorial and start lettering like the pros today!

2) Suminagashi 

Photo Source: Another New Design Studio

Photo Source: Another New Design Studio

What Is It?

Suminagashi, or floating ink, is an ancient Japanese marbling technique that allows you to create stunning, museum-worthy ink designs. The process involves creating intricate patterns by transferring floating ink from the surface of water to a sheet of paper. Most Suminagashi patterns are made by alternating ink droplets with soap droplets, a technique which then creates dazzling concentric circles in the water. Suminagashi ring patterns would make sensational wall decorations and even better gifts.

Where Can I learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Hazirah Kadir

Check out Hazirah Kadir’s class Beyond Beautiful 2.0: Suminagashi Technique. Hazirah’s class will show you what supplies you need and how to get started on your Suminagashi journey. Before long you’ll be creating stunning Suminagashi designs in no time!

3) Calligraphy

Photo Source: Bryn Chernoff

Photo Source: Bryn Chernoff

What Is It?

If you’ve ever received a wedding invitation with handwriting so elegant that you shudder with jealousy (no, just me?), you’re probably familiar with calligraphy. Calligraphy is the art of writing in a beautiful, visually precise way. It’s different from hand lettering in that calligraphers aren’t drawing the letters. Instead, they’re writing them with clarity, skill, and precision, each stroke meticulously placed onto the paper. The typical tools of the calligrapher are the calligraphy pen — a pen with a sharp, metallic nib — and the inkwell. While learning calligraphy requires a ton of patience, it definitely pays off in the end when you can write a postcard, party invitation, or even an angrily-worded letter in a dazzling calligraphic style.

Where Can I learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Bryn Chernoff

For a great introduction to the art of calligraphy, check out Bryn Chernoff’s class Introduction to Modern Script Calligraphy. Bryn, who also goes by Paperfinger, covers which materials you need to buy, line widths, ideal pen movement, connecting individual letters, and whatever else you need to start off on the path to becoming a master calligrapher.

4) Brush Lettering

Photo Source: Peggy Dean

Photo Source: Peggy Dean

What Is It?

Brush lettering is a lot like calligraphy, minus all the fuss. Call it “Calligraphy Lite” or “Diet Calligraphy.” Both techniques produce stunning writing samples, complete with lavish strokes and ornamental flourishes, though calligraphy tends to be a bit messier. Brush lettering is quicker to learn and you don’t have to get used to the special calligraphy nib and inkwells. Plus, if you’re clumsy like I am, having a bunch of loose ink sitting in a tiny pot is a disaster waiting to happen. The main tool of brush lettering on the other hand is much simpler — the brush pen. It looks and feels like a normal pen except with a brush nib at the end of it. The brush pen allows you to create thick downstrokes, airy upstrokes, and beautiful calligraphic designs without the constant dipping (and probable spilling) of calligraphy. Plus there’s nothing like the satisfaction you get from writing with a brush pen.

Where Can I learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Peggy Dean

Check out Peggy Dean’s classic tutorial, Brush Lettering: The Beginner’s Guide. Peggy shows you how to choose a brush pen, goes over the basic strokes, and then dives into more advanced effects like bounce lettering and the ombre effect.

5) Watercolors

Photo Source: Ana Victoria Calderón

Photo Source: Ana Victoria Calderón

What Is It?

You might remember playing with watercolors as a kid. Imagine yourself not even old enough to read, messily fingerpainting, a pint sized Picasso watercoloring masterpieces while at the same time driving your parents crazy. Well it turns out the watercolor fun doesn’t need to stop when you grow up. There are plenty of ways to use watercolors, from the work of Georgia O'Keeffe and Edward Hopper to your neighborhood wine and paint classes. Watercoloring allows you to get your hands dirty and create vibrant, distinct designs with a crafty, DIY flair.

Where Can I learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Ana Victoria Calderón

I’d recommend checking out Modern Watercolor Techniques: Beginner’s Level, a perfect watercolor introduction from teacher Ana Victoria Calderón. The class currently has over 8,000 students with a 100% positive review. For some more advanced watercolor techniques, check this handy list of some of our most popular classes here.

Love these watercolor designs and want to make your own? Check out "Modern Watercolor Techniques: Beginner's Level" and learn watercoloring today.

 

6) Logo Design

Photo Source: George Bokhua

Photo Source: George Bokhua

What is It?

When you think of any successful brand what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For Nike, it’s the swoosh; for McDonald’s, it’s the golden arches;for Apple, it’s the...you get the picture. Logos are a vital part of experiencing culture in the 21st century. They help us relate to the brands around us and allow us to create sentimental connections with the products we love. Designing a memorable logo, one that captures the essences of a brand while maintaining a visceral simplicity, is an essential skill for graphic designers everywhere.

Where Can I Learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Aaron Draplin

To start off on your logo design adventure I definitely recommend checking out Design a Logo with Aaron Draplin. His class is jam-packed with advice and Adobe Illustrator demos that’ll help you refine your work. Another amazing, more advanced class to check out is George Bokhua’s Logo Design with Grids: Timeless Style from Simple Shapes.

7) Poetry

Photo Source: Joanna Kosinska

Photo Source: Joanna Kosinska

What Is It?

If you’ve ever taken a college class on postmodern lit, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now. While aesthetes have been pondering this question forever (literally FOREVER), there’s still no real consensus. For some folks, poetry needs to have rhyme schemes, scannable meters, and flowery language. Other folks think poetry can be literally anything.  That traffic report you heard on the news? POETRY. The billboard you saw on the freeway? POETRY. Your friend’s boring story about how he wore mismatching socks once? POETRY. Instead, we’d like to meet somewhere in the middle. Borrowing some ideas from Skillshare teacher Cameron Conaway, we think poetry helps makes the small large; it focuses on the sometimes beautiful sometimes terrifying minutia of life, and it allows us to connect with an idea that we always knew was true, but that we never put into words before. Most of all, poetry makes you feel something.

Where Can I Learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Cameron Conaway

For bards to be, Cameron Conaway’s class Poetry I: Introduction to Making Poems is the perfect class to get started. Sometimes the poetry world can be fairly pretentious, but Cameron’s class is anything but. He’s super easy-going and creates a solid but flexible structure around writing poetry.

8) Repeat Pattern Design

Photo Source: Nora Patterson

Photo Source: Nora Patterson

What Is It?

Repeat pattern design is becoming quite trendy in the graphic design community. This inventive technique allows designers to draw a single illustration (a swatch) and have that swatch repeat multiple times into a stunning, intricate pattern. At the end of the process, you wind up with a quilt-like patchwork of your design, repeating in all directions. You can make a repeat pattern out of any illustration you want: your cats, utensils in your kitchen, baseball equipment, ANYTHING. If you can name it, you can swatch it, and then you can repeat it. The best part? You can use your repeat pattern as an inspiration for handmade wallpaper, bedsheets, posters, or (if you’re feeling adventurous) even mousepads.

Where Can I Learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Julia Rothman

For a nice intro to repeat pattern design, try taking Julia Rothman’s class Illustrating Patterns: Creating Hand-Drawn Wallpaper. It’s super informative, and seeing Julia design patterns is a treat.

9) Food Photography

Photo Credit: Sophie D'arcy-Evans 

Photo Credit: Sophie D'arcy-Evans 

What Is It?

We all have that sous chef cousin, foodie friend, or celebrity crush whose brunch pics seem like they were sculpted from high up in the heavens. The pancakes are fluffy, golden brown pillows, butter placed right in the center, syrup flowing down the sides like a maple Niagara falls. The eggs on their benedict, poached to perfection, smothered in hollandaise sauce, suspended in glory atop a toasted English muffin. Their barista crafting their cappuccino art with such enduring love that you almost feel like the heart in the coffee beats with the same verve as the one in their chest. (Or, you know, it’s just brunch). Believe it or not, you too can take such dazzling, awe-inspiring pictures of your food, and all you need is an iPhone and some patience.

Where Can I Learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Adam Goldberg

Adam Goldberg’s class iPhone Food Photography: Capturing Coffee, Dessert, and More is the ideal introduction to the world of food photography. It’s a short class, only 30 minutes, but in that half hour, Adam packs in all his knowledge about shooting food in a way that preserves beauty, symmetry, and a clean aesthetic.

Want to take AMAZING brunch pics in 2017? Check out Adam Goldberg's crash course ON food photography!

10) Jewelry Design

Photo Source: Brit Moran 

Photo Source: Brit Moran 

What Is It?

While there’s nothing like the rush you get from buying a well-crafted piece of jewelry in the store, or the glee you get from asking the lady at the jewelry counter to try on every diamond necklace, while knowing the entire time you’re not going to buy anything, wearing jewelry that you make yourself could be even more fulfilling. Jewelry design could be your cool new DIY hobby of the year, a hobby that allows you to reflect more of your personality in the accessories you wear. Learning jewelry design will expose you to basic color theory, interesting techniques that involve linking metals, and visually appealing stones.

Where Can I Learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Brit Morin

To start off on jewelry design, don’t miss Brit Morin’s class Introduction to Jewelry Making: From Amateur to Artist. By the end of class you’ll leave sporting your very own necklace!

11) Crocheting 

Photo Source: Jess Coppom

Photo Source: Jess Coppom

What Is It?

Crocheting: the most misunderstood of the handicrafts. If you ask your average Joe on the street about crocheting, they would probably say that it’s “sorta like knitting, right?” In a way crocheting is knitting’s cooler, more adventurous, but vastly underappreciated cousin. He wears a dope leather jacket, aviator sunglasses, rides a motorcycle, but also has a sensitive side — sometimes you see him reading Irish poetry tucked behind his copy of “Cycle World Magazine.” Crocheting is quite simply the process of crafting fabric by interlocking loops of yarn (or thread) using the tool of a crochet hook. The biggest differences between crocheting and knitting? Crocheting uses one hook to do the dirty work while knitting involves two needles. Also unique to crocheting, each stitch is finished before moving onto the next one, whereas in knitting, you can keep a large number of stitches open at a time.

Where Can I Learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Jess Coppom

For beginners, I’d definitely recommend checking out Jess Copom’s class Modern Crochet 101: Create a Pair of Fingerless Mitts. Jess teaches you how to start any crochet project with a chain, how to create a single crochet knit, and how to sew completed crochet edges together.

12) Embroidery

Photo Source: Samantha Boone

Photo Source: Samantha Boone

What Is It?

Embroidery is everywhere if you just take some time to look. Your favorite baseball cap? Probably embroidered. The fancy rug on your floor, yep, that might be embroidered. The box of pasta in your pantry? Definitely not embroidered. When you embroider a piece of fabric, you’re essentially decorating it by needling yarn or thread throughout. Learning embroidery enables you to change the entire vibe of your clothes, turning old, tired, or out of date outfits into something new. You can also design classic embroidered pieces with funny or personalized messages and give those to friends as gifts. Plus, embroidery is a calming, relaxing way to use your hands to build something awesome.

Where Do I Learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Alice Mitev

To learn to embroider like the pros, the first class I’d check out would be Hand Embroidery Fundamentals by Alice Miltev. Alice goes over the six kind of stitches and shows you how to create your very own embroidered hoop.

Want to embrace your creativity in 2017? Embroidery is the perfect skill to learn!

13) Comics

Photo Source: Christine Nishiyama

Photo Source: Christine Nishiyama

What Is It?

You might think that comics are limited to the funny pages, the best part of the newspaper according to every 10 year old you meet. Or perhaps, you might think that comics are limited to those pulpy magazines that eventually get made into bloated, big budget, Hollywood superhero films. In actuality, there’s a sprawling range between those two opposite poles. Comics are fast becoming a widely respected art form — from political cartoons, to personal strips addressing the minutia of everyday life, to graphic novels that grapple with anxiety and depression, comics enable creatives to build visual art that’s narratively driven.

Where Can I Learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Christine Nishiyama

To get started with comics, check out Christine Fleming’s awesome class Drawing Comics: Storytelling with Words and Pictures. Her 45 minute class introduces the basics of sequential storytelling, including things like plot structure, panel transitions, timing, and framing.

14) Soap Making

Photo Source: Beau Colin

Photo Source: Beau Colin

What Is It?

While most of us end up buying our soap from a store, and some of us buy “artisanal” soap bars from an overpriced store with a corny name like “Kaleidosoap” or “Horosoap,” did you know that you can actually make your own soap right at home? You probably have many of the ingredients just lying around at home, and it’s a fun, relaxing hobby to help pass the time. The best part of soap making (besides telling people at parties that you’re into soap making) is that you can add creative flairs to every bar. Want the soap to have a pleasant scent? Add your own herbal extracts to the bar like matcha or coconut. Want soap that works to moisturize your skin? Add aloe vera or shea butter. Whether you’re designing soap for your own bathroom, or you’re giving bars to a friend for their birthday, there’s a wide world of soap making to explore.

Where Can I Learn It?

An Online Skillshare Class by Beau Colin

To start off on your soap making journey, be sure to check out Beau Colin’s awesome tutorial, Soap Making: How to Make Your Own Handmade Soap. Beau goes over how to create soap from scratch with ingredients and equipment you already have.


Whether you're set on learning hand lettering or want to give crocheting a try, it's never too early (or too late) to start learning a creative skill. Check out our 14 Creative Skills track page with all the classes featured in this article!