Creating with a self taught mentality

Ever wonder where some DIYers pick up their seemingly natural skills? Don’t think I haven’t thought of that myself!  Is there a self help magazine I don’t know of?

But something I’ve come to understand is the way one thinks. Most that accomplish tend to work with a self taught mentality.

Something I’ve done forever in my sign / graphics / truck lettering day job is self teach myself lots of things. Here’s an example.

This thick stripe had to be placed on this firetruck door. I felt it would look best if it ran right through the handle. But how would I deal with cutting around this?!?

To my knowledge, there’s no manual out there to teach this, so I came up with my own solution. A washer was all I needed.

Using the washer as my radius guide, I drew on the stripe with a washable felt pen, then very carefully cut the reflective stripe on the firetruck door with my exacto stainless steel blade.

For those of you freaked out about the paint job… I can feel how deep the knife is cutting and can keep the blade off the paint. :)

The end result is a respectable outcome.

I do much the same with DIY projects. I will hunt and search for all kinds of solutions to solve my own problems.

I’d love nothing more to ask someone all kinds of questions all day long or have someone help with stuff. However, for me that isn’t realistic. So I make up my own rules and figure it out.

Thinking with a self taught mentality can get you out of a lot of binds. You become more self sufficient and tend to tackle new things with less fear. And THAT, to me, is how you build up new skills relatively quickly.

So next time you think you need help, do yourself a big big favor and think again. Literally! :)

( The above documentation is part of a firetruck series I’m writing for a trade magazine. See? I’m even coming up with a way to blend my passion into my everyday job these days! :) )


More firetruck posts can be found HERE

What’s your style? Self help or ask for help?

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  1. I think it is part of the creative process. Looking at things and seeing how they relate to each other in different ways. I love that you made the corner without the use of a computer, just your brain power.

  2. My daughter-in-law constantly asks my husband and myself how we do all the different things we do whether it be home improvement or our often creative collaboration on art or home decor projects. Back in the day before the internet we went to the library and checked out books to teach ourselves the skills or techniques we needed to accomplish a project. (Yikes! I just dated myself!) The internet makes it so much easier these days with easy to access knowledge and even how to videos! We have always been self taught learners and solution solvers and you are right it does give you a confidence to conquer without fear. Thank you for this confidence booster post!

    Merry Christmas!

  3. Thank you! I’ve noticed that I put so many of my quilting projects aside when I get stuck because I feel like I need to research the “right” way to do it. So they don’t get finished for a very long time and that’s frustrating. This is just the reminder I need to just make it work and move on.

  4. I love the creative process. I find that my sewing skills, taught by my mama from age 6 on, were the springboard for all of my other creative talents. I have an intuitive sense when it comes to fabric projects and feel I can accomplish them even without a pattern. I guess that could be called self taught. Yet, I know I could never have reached this point had it not been for the technical skills learned at my mama’s knee.

  5. You couldn’t be more right!! It can be much cheaper to have to think out of the box on how to achieve the end result! (The example you gave here is perfect) It can be worth it in so many ways. Sometimes my hubby laughs at how I create some things, but not because it’s silly, but because it actually worked! LOL!!

  6. Great post. People ask me all the time how I ‘taught’ myself to paint. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still learning! But I know what they mean.

    Growing up, our family biz was a summer resort near Lake Tahoe. Age didn’t matter. Work did. There was no time to ask for instructions. As kids we were given the task. Often I failed. Very often. But what I learned was to try, figure it out, keep going, going, going.

    It wasn’t easy. But who said it’s supposed to be?

  7. Great post! I completely agree! I have a hard time asking for help. I was even laughing at myself today because I wouldn’t ask for help in finding something at the hardware store – which is going a bit too far ha ha! I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I figure it out myself.

  8. This is so well phrased!! My friends will ask me how I figured out how to do creat some new project/use new power tools/etc. I start out with the mentality,”I will figure it out”. Sometimes I make a mess of things before I figure it out, but eventually I do! I don’t get stressed out if I have a few “whoops” along the way, I figure this is part of the learning process. I agree with you that figuring some new project out on your own carries over into so many other areas of life. Once you have conquered a new skill, all on your own, the confidence grows to face the next challenge. This is how strong women get stuff done!

  9. Kind of like the door lock I switched out tonight… the lighting was to dim to read the directions so I just started messing with it until it worked. Instructions are highly over rated.

    Donna, my dad was an upholsterer by trade, having dropped out of school in the eight grade to provide for his mom and sister after his dad died. You think he didn’t have some off the wall methods of measuring things? Dad was always doing funky things to get the job done.

    I never really thought much of it while he was alive, just thought everyone did things like that. My kids question me all the time “Why are you doing THAT?”. while they absorb the goofy litle things I do.

    I think it’s cool though, when I find my eight year old daughter helping herself to the drill to fix something:)

  10. Great post Donna–

    I’ve become that person…that asks others ‘so how would you…? or How DO you…? and I’m bad about going to Google for everything.
    I’m trying to break that cycle.
    #1. WHO HAS the time to research all the time how to do something? That time cuts into your own creativity!
    #2. If I see something that has already been done… the BRAKES come to a SCREECHING HALT. All creativity stops. My ideas fall flat.
    #3. I cringe at the thought of how much I USED TO GET ACCOMPLISHED or all the IDEAS I USED TO HAVE. It’s hard to be creative if I don’t get up and do something…ACT UPON THOSE IDEAS swimming around my head.

    I’m trying now …to take a step back. Use the creative talents that My Maker gave me–and have some happy satisfaction knowing I made this; OR I figured this one out on my own!

    Enjoyed your post and certainly am thinking– this post is confirmation that I’m beginning to come out of this fog, I’ve been in for so long and perhaps I’m on the right track
    Thanks for posting it.

    …and BTW, your *pay the bills job* is truly fascinating! I think it’s a cool job.

    Pat

  11. I go with my intuition and if it says to double-check or look it up, I often will. Otherwise I like to do what you talked about and think outside the box. Failing my way to success is satisfying, and if I can help someone else out, that’s a bonus.

  12. First, I never would have thought of that.
    Second, it looks wonderfully professional.

    You know, I used to think that being creative was just “cheating” – just making due because I didn’t have experience, or the right equipment, or the right, whatever.

    But, now I see it as a way of staying frugal and exercising creativity. I’m beginning to embrace it as a talent or skill – looking out side of the box – or sometimes IN it – to find a good solution.

    I just it’s just one more way of accepting that I’m different – way different – and I’m really okay with that!