Fall 2023 self-study results

Hello it’s October!!

In mid-August, I made a plan to self-study the following for 6 weeks:

• drawing

• design

• hardware stuff

(and korean when I had time)

I was going to do this through September 29th:

And currently it’s October 4th:

So… how did it go?


Here’s what happened in practice:

• drawing


• hardware stuff

great! no changes 🙂


did you know that in learning design

you have to create things that are imperfect or sometimes even bad

and other people see your imperfect work and know that it’s imperfect or even bad

spiraled a few times

completely redid learning approach twice

lol dropped out


(to focus more on design)

(korean went fine)

Things did not go as planned!!!!!!

but overall

it went really well!!!


I feel really good about where I’m at with things 6 weeks later :’)

but I needed to make a ton of changes to my plan to get there

I’d love to walk you through

my curriculum revisions and why I made them

especially because I think

they were crucial to the

success of this study experiment

and I wanted to share in case it’s helpful to someone else in their own self-study journey

let’s get into it!!!


to my self-study curriculum

and why


Drawing studies

I started with my drawing practice, which I structured like this:

✏️ Daily drawing studies

Draw some sort of still life for at least 1 minute a day

and basically...

can you spot the one that’s not still life

I did it!

I didn’t draw every day, but I was pretty close

I didn’t always draw still-life, but I usually did

I don’t know if I’m getting any better yet — I don’t have a neat before & after to show you — but I’m ✨ trusting the process ✨ and it’s been a fun and rewarding practice

I also just started my figure drawing class last Saturday and I absolutely loved it!!

Everything’s coming up roses right now


Drawing studies going well

No changes needed!


Design studies

The “1 sketch / day” format worked so well for me for drawing, I figured I’d try a really similar format for studying design

🖼️ Mon/Wed Design studies

• Reserve the whole day for studying design

• Study whatever I find interesting

• Then make 1 design

and basically...


this format

(*for me, for right now!!!)

(not saying this is a bad approach in general)

I would read some design resource

I would open Figma and try to design... something?

And it would look like




I had a few major problems with this approach:

1. The resources I read had nothing to

do with what I was designing

For example, I read all of Don’t Make Me Think, and then I tried to design a photo gallery...

and while the book was interesting, it didn’t help me make the photo gallery not look like a$$

2. Designing “anything” was hard

I was planning to “just design a thing a day”

which was soooo vague

I would pick something out of the air, like,

“I guess I’ll design a flyer??”

But a flyer for what

and why

and I could have just play-pretend-make-believe’d what I was doing (“It’s a flyer for a new car wash in town!")

but idk!!! that’s harder than you’d think!

and overall it felt very academic

3. It was soooooo NOT FUN

(for me! right now!)

This totally just depends on the person, and I bet experience level too

Like with drawing, picking a random thing to try to draw is really really fun for me - but I also used to draw a lot when I was younger

So “ooh how do I draw a spoon” is interesting to me now

because I spent years drawing whatever I wanted to draw

I could totally imagine that to someone, designing

ANY RANDOM THING a day could be sooooo fun (“OOH what would a CAR WASH flyer look like”)

But for me it made me feel like




I did indeed draw these cursed Cars fanarts

(not still life)


So anyways, I needed to make some adjustments

design studies

take two

I decided I needed to have:

1. Specific things to design

2. That I am interested in designing

Btw this is when I decided to drop my hardware explorations entirely — I noticed that when I was frustrated with my design studies, I would procrastinate and then spend more time playing with hardware :|

so I have temporarily revoked my hardware privileges for now!!!


🖼️ Mon/Wed Design studies

• Reserve the whole day for studying design

• Study whatever I find interesting

• Then make 1 design

Make a series of zines

I settled on making a series of zines as a theme for my design work

I brainstormed a bunch of ideas for zines I’d love to make

I started making a bunch of zine prototypes

and yet

I was still not happy with how things were going.


It was super annoying because it wasn’t obvious to me what was making me unhappy, either

I was enjoying making zines, but... I felt stressed?

Like I felt like I wasn’t getting good at design fast enough?

But I would try to ask myself for more details on why I was feeling like “☹️” and my brain would just be like:

no words just feels

What do you do in moments like these?



Go back to your “why”

The answer is C, friends!!

I have a lot of experience in self-studying Korean, and in the language study community there’s a small but loud contingent of folks who are like, “JUSt GrRIND ThROUGh ThE PAIn” for everything

e.g. “READ tHE NewSPAPEr EVerY DAy and MEMorIZE EVERY WORD YoU Don’T KNOw and if you can’t commit to doing that you DON’T DESERVE to learn Korean”

Not only do I find this advice unrealistic, I’ve found it very ineffective

Because if something feels off, something probably IS off, and so it’s good to check in with yourself and try to figure out what that is.

If you can’t name what exactly is off - in this situation I advise that you check in with your “why”

I asked myself:

• Why do I want to learn design?

• What am I trying to accomplish?

I did a lot of introspection

I talked to Davis a bunch

I went on walks

I journaled

And I came to this conclusion:

In other words

I was creating my own mental barriers for myself:



to follow your dreams

My “why” for learning design had been,

“Well because you’re not allowed to make what you wanna make until you’re good at design”

and obviously



“Well because you’re not allowed to make what you wanna make until you’re good at design”


It was time to revise my plan again

design studies

take three


🖼️ Mon/Wed Design studies

• Reserve the whole day for studying design

• Study whatever I find interesting

• Then make 1 design

Make a series of zines

Start Making Pouch

my dream

“Pouch” is something I’ve been talking about for months

It’s my idea for a print magazine for paper lovers & the paper curious

It would cover things like reviews of notebooks, cool stationery & stickers to try, essays about journaling, how-tos and DIYs, crafts, and generally be a fun entertaining magazine that helped people connect and make with paper more.

I really wanted to make this “someday” because when I attempted it in the past, my layouts looked sooooo ugly, so I thought I needed to really level up my design skills before I tried this again.


NEW PLAN I’m making Pouch now

(just a pilot issue)

and learning what I need to learn along the way

Aug 29, 2023:

I sent this note to my friend Mariam who has been helping me improve my design skills

I created new goals:

• Create a prototype of Pouch magazine by the end of September

• It should have 3 articles and a cover and that’s it

• And I’ll practice my design skills along the way

Now with clear goals, Mariam helped me figure out what to do next -

she gave me exercises to develop my design skills as I developed Pouch

I wrote a bunch of articles for Pouch

Then I designed

and designed

and designed even more

Until finally it was time to take these sketches to something real

The last week of September, I sprinted to make a real, color, printed prototype of Pouch (just one article tho, not 3)

and I’m like

really happy with what it looks like so far!!!

well the cover I made looks like a$$ but I’m dealing with that in October lol

Most of all, I’m feeling really good about what I’m doing and why 💖



to follow your dreams


Self-studying went well!!!

Gonna continue my learning focus for the next 6 weeks too

Gonna continue with Pouch development + drawing practice

I’m still banning myself from working on hardware

because I’m too easily consumed by it lol

But maybe in December??



I hope it was enlightening in some way,

or at least entertaining!

Subscribe to my newsletter if you want to read

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with Pouch and my other projects:


and special thanks to Mariam

and special thanks to Davis

for all your help the last 6 weeks 💓