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Reviving the Apprentice-Master Tradition: Learning from Legends

Since the beginning of time, we humans have learned new skills by watching others do them.

Hunter-gatherers learned from each other where the best edible wild plants could be found. Aspiring craftsmen worked with the best to gain experience. Statesmen received mentoring. Novice painters started working as an assistant for an established name. The apprentice-master tradition has unfortunately fallen a little bit into disuse (at least if we leave internships or job shadowing aside.)

And that's a shame, because I don't think there is a better way to learn your trade than through direct contact with a professional who has done it all before.

A master craftsman teaching his apprentice

Even if it is not 'the real thing' - you learn skills by doing them - technology still offers a solution. Thanks to learning platforms such as Skillshare, Domestika, Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda), Hotmart and CreativeLive (to name a few) you can look over the shoulders of thousands of experts. Of course, your learning success depends mainly on yourself. Active participation remains the message. Want to learn to roller skate through videos on YouTube? Perfectly possible (just ask my five-year-old daughter).

Once you have mastered a skill, you can in turn pass it on to others. Anyone can launch a course via Teachable, Kajabi and LearnWorlds. Just keep in mind that some teachers are of varying quality (teaching is also a skill!).

This brings us back to 'mastery'. The greatest thing about online is that it can put you in touch with the absolute masters of their craft. Surrounding yourself with people who are better than yourself is good. Getting advice from the icons in their field is simply fantastic! Internationally, MasterClass responds to this, with top performers such as James Cameron, Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood, and even Metallica - for God's sake! In Belgium there is Learn It From The Best by Borgerhof & Lambrigts (including lessons from photographer Lieve Blancquaert and illustrator Carll Cneut).

So if you are passionate about something and really want to master it: find a teacher who inspires you, ask for an apprenticeship and become who you want to be. And be sure to combine it with an exciting online course, because the best don't always live nearby 🙂 Are you standing on the shoulders of giants?


BONUS TIP for anyone interested in graphic or logo design

6 iconic artists who will teach you the tricks of the trade:

Paula Scher (Pentagram)

Aaron Draplin (DDC)

Sagi Haviv (Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv)

Michael Bierut (Pentagram) & Jessica Helfand

Tom Geismar

Jeff Goodbye & Rich Silverstein (GS&P)

4 legends-in-the-making:

James Martin

James Barnard

Abi Connick

Georges Bokhua

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