Today’s guest on the Teach & Flourish podcast is Fernanda Franco. Fernanda is a printmaker/graphic designer who loves to teach people to access their creativity and apply it to making things!
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Kari: Hey, there. Welcome to the Teach and Flourish Podcast for Creative Entrepreneurs. Today I'm talking with Fernanda Franco. She is a Graphic Designer and Printmaker and also an Online Instructor on Skillshare. Welcome, Fernanda.
Fernanda: Hi, Kari. It's great to be here. Thank you for having me.
Kari: Yes. Thank you so much for agreeing to come on. Just wanted to hear a little bit more about you. Tell us about yourself. Where do you live? Kind of what's your professional background?
Fernanda: I'm originally from Mexico. I came to the States to pursue Graphic Design, and I have a Masters from Pratt Institute for Communication Design. I've been practicing graphic design in the corporate world for the past 15 years in New York City, and it's been great. I really love it. It's very versatile.
Kari: Wow, wow. How did you … I know you said you're practicing graphic design, and one of your classes is on block printing. Am I saying that properly?
Fernanda: Yeah, yeah. Block printing.
Kari: How did you … Tell us a little bit how you got into block printing?
Fernanda: When I took classes in Mexico, the curriculum for Graphic Design is very broad, so they teach you a lot of like silkscreen printing, and like watercolor, and illustration, but mostly, there is like a lot of classes about printing and the printing process, and we had a very informal class where we learned to print with vegetables. Like a simple potato or like a-
Kari: Oh, wow.
Fernanda: Yeah, and then ever since then, I just started to get more interested in printing, and eventually in my time off from work, I would take print making workshops. Then I just ended up teaching a class at a school that used to be in the lower East Side, make workshop. Now it's moved to Brooklyn, but I used to teach the block printing class there to students, and it was just like great to apply it to paper or fabric. It has like so many applications.
Kari: Yeah, that's funny because I started taking your course, and like I was telling you before when we were talking a little while ago, that's not … Block printing is not something I've … I don't think I've ever even heard of before, but it's so cool to watch you like in action, and watch how you go, from like you said, a design on a potato to like a design on fabric and on paper. I mean, it's so awesome.
Fernanda: Yeah, and the tradition also comes from like India, so you see that there's like a lot of like … They do it with formal like blocks that are made out of wood, and it's very intricate. Very beautiful designs that they do, and that's how they stamp fabric, so it was a little bit of combining graphic design skills with textile design, and just getting to know that the materials that you can use to print in fabric.
Kari: Mm-hmm (affirmative), man. That's like so interesting. Such a different … Like a different world for me. What made you … I know you said you used to teach this in person. What made you decide to create your first online course? Like was it … Were you wanting more freedom? Was it more money? More exposure? Like what pushed you in that direction?
Fernanda: Well, what they call in Skillshare now, like a Veteran Teacher, because my class was published in 2013.
Kari: Oh, awesome. Oh, man.
Fernanda: Yeah, it was a while back when Skillshare was starting, and they had a different model, but I heard about Skillshare, and I was very intrigued by teaching through a video, and reaching a wider audience, so I really did it for the fun of it. Just to meet people from all over the world, and now I have a little more than a thousand students, so from all over, and it's just a great experience to be able to interact through video.
Kari: Okay, that's actually one of the questions I had. I wanted to know how many students you have, so you said a little bit over a thousand. Can you tell us … I know you said your class has been there since 2013, but how important is it to interact with your students? Like how do you keep in touch with them? What are your plans … Do you have plans for another course? Like what are your plans coming up?
Fernanda: I keep in touch through the projects that are posted. I comment on all of them. Some people have questions about what kind of ink they can use, or about the process, if the ink is supposed to dry one way, or if you're supposed to iron it, so I interact with them through the forum. Also I tend to post inspirational things, so if I see anything block printing that is kind of fun, I just post it, so that people keep doing the projects.
Kari: I like that. I think, what's that saying, “That we're supposed to educate, inspire, and entertain?” It sounds like that's exactly what you're doing to keep interacting with your students. I love that.
Fernanda: Yeah, and I'm hoping that this summer I can publish couple more classes. I'm the works, so-
Kari: Right. Well, we're both … Both you and I are enrolled in the Skillshare Summer Challenge, which is awesome. Maybe can you speak a little bit? What is your course creation process? First of all, how are you coming up with new ideas for your courses, and then can you kind of walk us through like what your course creation process is? Because there's a lot of people who want to do what we're doing, and they … Some people just find it so difficult to get started, so it's good for them to hear how we all … The different processes that we all use to get going on our courses.
Fernanda: Yeah, well, I first of all, I think everybody has something to teach-
Kari: Yes, yes.
Fernanda: I really feel that you have to look like you may not think there's something you know, but I'm sure there's something that somebody can learn from you, and it can be very simple. It doesn't have to be like very complicated.
Fernanda: The way I formulated this class is I just basically started writing the process at the beginning. It's very project-based, so the block printing class that I teach is to print a tea towel. Something that you would use in the kitchen. I just … Like first, you start gathering your materials, and then I just started imaging how I would do it, and just write in like a notebook like with a pencil. I would do this, and just delineate every step that was happening in the process, and-
Kari: It's basically you're literally writing down step by step what you would do? This is prior to you recording it or doing anything? Just kind of making an outline, a course outline?
Fernanda: Yeah, and I mean, I feel like some people may have like you can do a brainstorm over like what you could teach. Like for my new classes, I've been doing lists of like, “Well, I would like to do this,” and just try to categorize them. Then after that, I chose block printing, because I was already teaching it in person, but just doing the outline. Writing it like old fashioned way, it was very good, because then I could see the different chunks for the video to be recorded.
Fernanda: It didn't have to be like … I mean, the class is 22 minutes, but it has about 6 different chunks, so by writing, I was able to really see that the process had very definite areas, and then if they could be smaller. Like 5 minutes or 2 minutes each.
Kari: Right, and that's one thing that I like about Skillshare, because it allows you that that exact process you just said to take it, and make those bite-sized classes, so it's not overwhelming. Especially when you're doing it the way you just said, like writing step by step and taking it from there. Oh, that's … To me, like that's a great way to get started. That anyone can get started.
Fernanda: Yeah, I think that that works also because then you can go back, and then you can … If you don't finish in … Obviously, sometimes you can't finish in one time. You just remember where you stopped, and then you can pick up.
Kari: Right. Right, so take us through what tools are you using, or did you use previously, and that you plan to use in creating your online courses? Like whether the cameras, or editing software, take us through what you use for your course creation?
Fernanda: Well, for the first class, I was … I mean, my graphics, I just did basically like in Design and Illustrator, and I really wanted to make sure that I had good pictures of the product, but then for the video, I had somebody for that class. I had somebody video me, and then I did some editing with them, but for my new class, I think I'm going to do it more focused on the product of the class. Not so much on the Teacher.
Kari: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Fernanda: Because my first class was a little bit more like talking. It was more like an oral class, and now I want to focus more on the product and just on the making of the things.
Kari: Will you be doing like screencasting for your next course? Like showing pictures for on the screen? Like what's the plan?
Fernanda: Yeah, I think I'm going to do some screencasting, and then combine just a little bit of like me talking through it.
Kari: I like that. I like that. For those of you out there who have taken my courses, that's what 95% of my courses are me doing screencasting. I actually want to do more a little bit more of what you did, Fernanda, in your first course, and kind of show more of me. It's just that it's that part is a little bit more complicated, at least for me, and especially in terms of editing and things like that. Whereas the screencasting, I find now I just … I can almost do it with my eyes closed.
Fernanda: Yeah, and I think the thing is, my first class I was approaching it more like sort of like a Martha Stewart craft kind of-
Kari: Oh, okay.
Fernanda: I feel like now, knowing more Skillshare and the audience, I feel like it's a little more direct, and people are looking more for like the screen … More like screen shots. Also more graphic information, and less on the speaker.
Kari: Do you have a idea of what … Which screencasting software you plan to use?
Fernanda: No, I have to do the research.
Kari: Well, a good one … I don't know what your budget is, but the one that I use most time is Screencast-O-Matic, and I think it's $15 for the year if you get the paid version, which allows you to do editing and add in certain text elements and things like that, but it's really … Like that's the one that I usually advise people to use just starting out, and then of course, you can … I don't know if you use a Mac or a PC, but there's Camtasia, and then Screenflow.
Fernanda: Oh, excellent.
Kari: Yeah, so those are definitely some to look into, but yeah, Screencast-O-Matic, if you're using a PC. I'm not sure if there's a Mac version for that one. Okay. What is your favorite part about creating online courses?
Fernanda: I think being passionate about design and drawing. I think that's just bringing that passion to somebody that maybe starting, or somebody that just wants to be entertained, or just the connection with other people that it can ignite somebody else's passion. I think that's what I really love about the classes, and being able to reach a wider audience. Because my classes, when I was teaching in Manhattan, they were like maybe 10, 10 people, and it's just great to see how somebody, especially like in the crafts and arts, that everybody can have like a baseline, and then what they can create from there is just amazing. I've seen some of the projects that the students have done, and it's just so great to see that you give them just some direction, and then people can take them wherever they want to.
Kari: Yes, I totally agree with you. It's so nice to know A, that you can inspire someone. I like what you said, “To ignite their passion.” Those are great words. When you're doing something in person, there's only so many people you can reach, and then so much … There's only so much time that you have. Most of us we're running our businesses, we have families, and other responsibilities, but when you're able to create that class online, create it once and maybe tweak it here and there. Like you said, you're able to reach … You've reached a thousand people, over a thousand people that you maybe wouldn't have been able to reach as easily in person.
Fernanda: Yeah, and also the levels of expertise, it's great because you don't necessarily have to be like a beginner on any of the classes. I just feel like it's so … Everybody can do it at their level. That's what I really love about Skillshare.
Kari: Yeah, I absolutely agree. Any advice that you can give to anyone who's out there listening to this interview? Like someone who might have been thinking or I like to say, “Over-thinking,” about creating their first course? Any advice you can give to them?
Fernanda: I'd say to not over-think it and just go ahead and full blast do it, because you can always publish one class, and then learn from it, and then start. As you get the grip of it, you'll start publishing hopefully more, which is how you can also start making more of a revenue, but certainly look in there. Because there's something that you know that you take for granted, and that somebody else will definitely find it valuable.
Kari: Yes, yes. Love that. Love that. Anything else you want to share with us before we wrap up here?
Fernanda: Well, just like to share Skillshare with friends, because the classes are really great. I mean, I haven't taken one class that is not amazing, and it's just a great community of people, and there's so many things that you can choose from, that I would just say, “Share it,” because it's really a great platform.
Kari: All right. Well, I want to thank you so much, Fernanda, for coming on and speaking with us. You had some great advice.
Fernanda: Oh, thank you, Kari, for having me.
Kari: Yes, definitely, and for any of you who are looking to get in touch with Fernanda, and hopefully take her block printing class, and get on her list so that you know about her upcoming classes. I'll post links to her Skillshare profile and to her website at the bottom of this interview, so thank you so much for joining, and I'll speak with you guys again soon.