Over on the Envato Tuts+ blog, we’ve been profiling some of the members of the Envato Tuts+ learning community from around the world.
We’ve heard how graphic artist Catherine Dawes realised her creative dreams despite living in a small, remote town in the Kalahari desert, how Brazilian web designer Tassia Pellegrini scored a dream job on the other side of the world, how Ajmal Afif made a “leap of faith” to kickstart his career as a front-end developer, and much more. Recent posts have taken us from the Philippines to London to Albuquerque.
Today we’re going to Tunisia, to hear how 22-year-old Kaouther Akid has used online learning to help her beat the odds and achieve her dream of a design career.
Name: Kaouther Akid
Location: Tunis, Tunisia
Topics of interest: Graphic design, illustration, icon design, digital painting and photo manipulation
Occupation: College student, studying graphic design
For Kaouther Akid, being a graphic designer is a long-cherished dream. But life has put a few obstacles in her way—read on to find out how she’s working to overcome thrm.
Being a graphic designer has been Kaouther’s dream since the first time she stumbled across Photoshop on her family’s home computer when she was 12. She started looking for tutorials online and using them to hone her skills, and by the age of 15, she was both learning and teaching other people online.
“Design started to occupy a special place in my heart,” she says. “I made a promise to myself then that I would work as hard as I could to improve and achieve my dream of becoming a full-time graphic designer for the rest of my life. I dreamed that, one day, I would make an imprint in this world.”
But it hasn’t been smooth sailing. Kaouther was born in Tunisia, but she moved with her family to the United Arab Emirates when she was a child. Although she graduated high school there and was offered scholarships to study at the best universities in the country, family circumstances forced her to move back to Tunisia and apply for college there, and things became difficult.
When she returned to Tunisia, Kaouther faced a few immediate problems:
- Her UAE qualifications weren’t fully recognised in Tunisia.
- Tunisian universities teach in French, a language she didn’t speak.
- She found limited opportunities in design in her home country.
Because of all these problems, her family encouraged her to be practical and to pursue a career in Pharmacy in order to have a more secure future. She tried to do what they recommended, thinking that perhaps the secure income would allow her to chase her real dream of becoming a designer.
But things just didn’t work out. “I could not force myself into loving this career,” she says. She knew that being a pharmacist was a good profession, but it just wasn’t for her. “I tried to quit many times but was compelled to stay by my family.”
The Pirate’s Treasure
In 2012, at the beginning of her third year in pharmacy, Kaouther came across Envato Tuts+.
“It felt like finding a pirate’s treasure!” she says. “Everything I needed to become a great designer was just a click away!” She also joined Envato Market, and says it “has been a great source of motivation. The idea of making money by creating and selling beautiful products can motivate anyone to keep working. And although I haven’t sold anything yet, I’m sure I’ll get there soon if I don’t give up.”
Her favourite course, she says, was 30 Days to Learn Illustrator, which she actually finished in just three days! She had been interested in icon design for a long time, but didn’t know where to start until she read Rockstar Icon Designer by Kate McInnes and took her Icon Design course. She also focused on character design and drawing tutorials, among many others.
“Tuts+ was one of the sources that have inspired me and showed me that you can learn and evolve no matter who you are, where you live or how much you have if you just put your time and effort into learning,” she says.
After three years studying pharmacy, Kaouther finally built up the courage and decided to quit, moved to the capital and joined a design school to pursue her dream.
“It took a lot of time and I had to stand up against many people and opinions, but I did it anyway and I have no regrets,” she says. “I decided to go on this adventure and do what I love.”
What’s Next for Kaouther
For now, Kaouther is working her way through design school using Envato Tuts+ on a daily basis, which she says has made her more successful in her studies.
She is searching for a scholarship abroad, because she is “eager to know more, learn and develop skills and meet new people from different cultures in order to become a better person and therefore a better designer.” Ultimately, though, she wants to “contribute to the development of the field of Design in Tunisia and to make it receive the acknowledgement and the appreciation it deserves.”
So what tips does Kaouther have for others who want to follow a similar path? She doesn’t think she has enough experience to give design tips, but is prepared to share a few lessons she’s learned about life from her own experiences:
“You have to be your own cheerleader in life. Have faith in your abilities and do not let anything or anyone stop you from following your dreams and being happy and satisfied with your life. With hard work, perseverance and patience you will get there and even if you do not, the honor of trying is more than enough. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”
Connect With Kaouther
If you want to connect with Kaouther, collaborate with her on a design project, or perhaps offer her an overseas scholarship, you can reach her here: