The studio of Jarrod Drysdale,
designer, writer, & consultant.

What if your design skills aren't good enough?

You want more exciting design projects, a job at your dream agency, higher pay, and complete creative autonomy. I'm sorry, but you need to hear this:

Your design portfolio isn't good enough to earn you those opportunities.

TheorySprints will help you become a better designer so you can finally get hired to make the important, beautiful design you know you are capable of. (And make more money too.)

Join the Waiting List

Or, learn more

Make your mark as a designer

I'm Jarrod Drysdale. My design career started at a tiny desk crammed into a server room over 10 years ago. Like you, I used to dream of making incredible design. I used to think:

"I want a chance to do what top designers are doing. What if I could make 6 digits a year, or work at a top design agency? What if I could run my own consulting business and pick the clients I wanted?"

Fast forward a decade, and I have achieved all of those things. And I can teach you what it takes.

I've worked at top agencies, served clients like New Line Cinema, McDonald's, Intuit, and Bloomberg, and run my own business. My writing and design work have appeared in major design publications like:

  • logo-sm
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I built the design career I dreamed of back when I was sitting in that server room, and I did it by becoming a better designer.

Each time I levelled up my design skill I landed a huge new opportunity:

  • Earned a coveted agency job right out of college.
  • Got a job making Hollywood movie websites (instead of used car dealership ads).
  • Doubled my salary after receiving competing offers from 3 prestigious agencies.
  • Moved my family to our dream home by getting a new job where I wanted to live.
  • Built my own business, and now I get to choose which clients and projects I accept.

There are endless opportunities to make incredible design.

But to get hired for the projects you want, you have to become a better designer.

icon of a design software bezier curve

Master the visual design principles that will make or break your career

Every time I advanced my design career, I did it by improving my visual design skills.

We all know that design is more than aesthetics. But clients and employers judge aesthetics first.

That means visual design is the most important skill for getting hired as a designer.

But you don't know visual design principles nearly as well as you think you do, and that weakness is limiting your success as a designer.

Design theory seems like old news. You've read about principles like color theory and typography before. But there are mistakes in your work you can't see because you haven't mastered how to use those principles.

To reach your next career goal, you need to master design principles and prove you have what it takes.

Praise for Bootstrapping Design and Off The Chopping Block,
the predecessors to TheorySprints

I wish I was taught these things in design school.

Gerardo Covela, Designer

I keep recommending it to folks. It's the single best reference I can give a developer to help them understand design in a nutshell.

Nathan Kontny, CEO of Highrise, Creator of Draft

I love how it's always saying things like, 'Here's what the experts do. That's hard/complex. Stick to these simple guidelines and you'll get decent results.' It's surprisingly comforting and encouraging. It makes me want to try it.

James Edward Gray II
Theory Sprints

Master key design principles in quick, distilled training sprints

Most design training only gives you an overview of a principle and then shoves you out the door. You're left with no clue how to use that knowledge. You stare at your own design and have no idea what you should change, and even if you did you wouldn't know how to change it.

Anatomy of a Theory Sprint

Each Sprint begins with a Design Theory Reboot video about that topic, continues with written lessons, and ends with a demonstration video.

Course Outline

Learn to plan design strategies and build your own reliable process

  • Sprint 1: Process
  • Sprint 2: Planning

Learn the Key Design Principles

  • Sprint 3: Typography
  • Sprint 4: Alignment & Grids
  • Sprint 5: Proximity & Space
  • Sprint 6: Color
  • Sprint 7: Repetition
  • Sprint 8: Visual Hierarchy
  • Sprint 9: Contrast & Dominance

Bonuses (See details below)

  • Portfolio Builder project briefs
  • Monthly instructor-led, class-wide critique session
  • 20+ Downloadable videos (final number TBD)
  • Downloadable audio lessons
  • 4 Design system templates
  • Photoshop files from real design projects

This outline is a work in progress and might change before the course launches. Last updated Feb 27, 2017.

Coming early 2017. Join the Waiting List, Get a Free Design Ebook:

Includes an arsenal of bonuses to help you become a better designer


Bonus: Portfolio Builder Project Briefs

Practice what you learn

To get better at design, give yourself the opportunity to practice, because no else will.

You need an opportunity to practice design and gain experience in relative safety, sheltered from complicating factors like clients, budgets, and aggressive deadlines. You need to figure out how you work alone before you attempt working with others.

Included in the course, Portfolio Builder is a self-guided workshop where you get the opportunity to work on real-world design scenarios and get hands-on experience under the guidance of an experienced designer.

When you buy the course, you'll get a set of ~10 project briefs (final number TBD) that challenge you to use the principles you learned in the sprints.


Bonus: Live Monthly Portfolio Builder Workshop

Learn from monthly design critique sessions

Get the mentorship and advice you need to grow as a designer. Every month, I critique student work in a live webinar. This webinar is only open to TheorySprints students.

You'll learn how to improve your own designs by seeing in-depth design reviews. These critique sessions will train you to evaluate design and see how design principles work.

You'll also have a chance to have your work critiqued in the webinar. (There is no guarantee I will pick your project to discuss because there's not enough time to get to everyone, but you will always learn something from the projects I pick.)


Other Bonuses

More useful assets to kickstart your learning and design process

  • Photoshop files from real design projects you can tear apart to decipher, hack, and learn from
  • Design System Templates
    • Type study template PSD: for comparing font choices
    • Type system template PSD: for building a typographic system and hierarchy
    • Logo design grid template PSD: for comparing logo designs, includes starter styles to inspire you
    • Color palette evaluation template PSD: for evaluating color contrast and harmony

Tired of design books and training that don't help you improve?

TheorySprints is not like the design training you're used to.

Let's face it: most design education sucks. It doesn't teach how to make design.

Most design training will present you with a talking head who rambles on about an abstract idea, and then challenges you to have a big idea of your own. And you leave with no clue how you are supposed to do that.

Or, the second type is the one where you'll attend a design event, bootcamp, etc and learn to make punk rock oven mitts or mixed-media magnetic street art (true story), but nothing about how to make design work you can actually get paid for.

In the average design book, you learn about the agonizingly long history of the written language but not how to pick and use a font. You learn what complementary colors are but not how to make a color scheme. You learn about complex UX strategies when you can't even design a simple form without wanting gouge out your own eyes.

TheorySprints is different from most design training because it's ruthlessly practical.

Theory is in the name, but you won't just learn about design theory. You'll learn how to actually use it. You'll learn what to do when you sit down at your desk to design something.

So many of the popular books and workshops mislead you into trying to have big, important ideas by following a complex process but you ultimately fail at it because that is impossible for all mere humans.

In TheorySprints, you will instead learn how to take all the horrible, boring, and bad-sounding ideas you always have and make something great out of them anyway through revision and hard work.

You'll learn to be a designer. You'll learn to solve problems. You'll learn to make beautiful, exciting things.

You'll work hard in order to do all that, because there are no shortcuts and there is no magic process that makes it easy.

But you'll finally learn how to start making the amazing design you've always wanted to.

Learning isn't enough.

Get the experience you need to get hired.

New designers face a catch-22: you need experience to get hired, but you need to get hired to get experience.

For mid-level and senior-level designers, getting opportunities to do your best work can still be difficult. Maybe you're stuck working under someone else's direction or don't get picked for challenging projects.

You need the chance to gain experience and grow as a designer. TheorySprints will help you gain that experience.

First, you'll learn by watching an experienced designer work in the demonstration videos, and you'll finally get to see how top designers create great design.

Then, you'll practice and build your portfolio by doing real design work. The course includes in-depth project briefs you can use as the basis for side projects, so that you can fill your portfolio with designs that prove you are ready for better opportunities.

Last, you'll gain experience in design by participating in the monthly group critique webinar. You'll see designs—maybe even your own—carefully analyzed. You'll learn how to judge design and how to fix it when it's broken.

All of this combined will give you the experience you need to get hired.

Coming early 2017. Join the Waiting List, Get a Free Design Ebook:

Questions? I have answers.

The course is at your own pace. You can complete it in a single weekend, or spread it out for months. It's up to you. Regardless of your pace, you'll have a downloadable version of everything you purchase plus online access so that you have the material forever.

That said, don't buy the course and plan to take it 3 months from now. If you buy the course, plan to start it right away. Commit to completing your course. I've seen so many people buy books and courses and then never use them. Don't do that to yourself!

You should plan on committing 3-5 hours per week for several months to get the full value from this course. That time includes not just watching and reading the content, but practicing.

Practice should take up the bulk of your time, and it's arguably the most important part. Practice is difficult when you don't know which areas you need to improve, or what you should work on. The course will guide you in all of that. Use the Portfolio Builder briefs! I included them for a reason.

Also remember that until much later in your career, you will frequently experience creative roadblocks and other challenging times when it takes you longer to come up with quality ideas. Make sure to give yourself space and extra time to account for this. Over time, as you practice, these differences will even out and you'll form a more reliable process and a more predictable work time. The course is the right place to work out those kinks. It's ok to struggle, so long as you are putting in the effort. And I'm here to help you through it.

No. This is a design course, not a software or coding course.

Part of the problem with most design education is that instructors get distracted by tools. There are many places to learn that stuff, and you should be able to learn most everything you need to about Photoshop or Sketch in a couple of days. Using Photoshop isn't hard because of Photoshop itself but because design requires skill. If you can't design, you can't use Photoshop. So start by building design skill and some software basics. You'll learn advanced software techniques as you practice, but just know that software techniques don't make you a designer. Mastering design principles and working on designs makes you a designer.

That said, the course does include a bunch of Photoshop files you can rip apart and decipher to pick up some techniques and tricks. The intent behind these is allowing you to see how a design is pieced together, but you will be able to see how I use Photoshop too.

Learning enough HTML/CSS to produce cross-browser, responsive websites (or programming for other devices) takes substantially longer, however. That's a much larger undertaking, and for newer designers it can distract from developing basic design competency. So I don't teach it. Learn that later!

No, no, and probably no. You need to get out of the mindset of trying to learn everything you see on design blogs right now.

You aren't ready for that stuff. High-level design strategies are incredibly difficult to implement until you have some skill in visual design.

The course doesn't teach that stuff because you don't need to know it yet. Instead you'll learn essential design theory that will serve you your entire career and will serve as a solid foundation for improving your skill.

Unless you want to dedicate your career completely to user research, in which case TheorySprints is not for you.

Junior designers, mid-level designers, and design learners. People with under 5 years of experience in design will learn the most.

That said, I still see people with more experience reading my design training. Many of us can benefit from new perspectives, seeing how others work, and filling in knowledge gaps. (And for the record, knowledge gaps happen regardless of whether you are self taught or went to design school.)

This course is for people who already are or want to become web designers, graphic designers, interaction designers, mobile designers, visual designers, and hybrid designers / design generalists.

This course will not teach you to become a UX expert. But, you should know that UX has become a very murky term in our industry. Many who have the job title "UX Designer" often do visual design and interface design.

If you want to design how things look and function, this course will help you. But it's not a user research course.

The only thing you need to know is this: are you willing to work hard to become a better designer? If your answer is yes, that's really all you need to know.

You will eventually want to learn some design software skills, such as Photoshop, Sketch, or Illustrator. That's not required to take the course but you will need that knowledge to use the Portfolio Builder briefs and practice what you learn.

Whether you learn design software first is up to you, but you should be able to learn enough Photoshop/Sketch in a weekend to get by. Can you draw shapes? Can you use layers? Can you make a textbox and change the font family and size? That's enough.

I offer a 14-day, 100% money-back guarantee on the course. If it's not right for you, email me the info below within 14 days and I'll give you a full refund.

The guarantee is there if you put forth effort to take the course and you still aren't satisfied. I work very hard to make sure the course is high quality and useful so that doesn't happen.

Here is the refund policy:

  1. Email me within 14 days after purchase with the info below. I'll check whether you have completed lessons and watched videos.
  2. No refunds after 14 days following your purchase of the course. All refunds are discretionary, and eligibility is determined only after all requested items are submitted.
  3. All decisions are final. No exceptions to the policy.

Along with your refund request, include:

  • Why aren't you satisfied with the course?
  • Designs from any of the Portfolio Builder briefs you attempted
  • Link to your design portfolio or design work samples from prior to purchasing the course

After you send these items, I'll consider your refund request and get back to you.

To earn a refund you need to prove you put in some effort and actually used the content. Deciding after you purchase that you can't afford the course, don't want to learn design, don't want to do the work, or don't like the course because it doesn't include a specific topic will not earn a refund.

If you do the work and still don't feel you have learned from the course or improved as a designer, I will issue a 100% refund.

I want this course to make a difference for you. But before you ask for a refund, give yourself a chance to learn and give it a sincere attempt!

After you purchase, you'll receive an email with details about how to log in and take the online course.

After you log in, you'll also be able to download all the materials.

You can complete the course at your own pace, and you'll be able to keep the downloadable content forever.

Disclaimer: TheorySprints is for people who are serious about growing.

Are you ready to take a leap forward in your design career? Are you willing to work hard, keep an open mind to new perspectives, and make a positive change? Then TheorySprints is for you.

TheorySprints only works if you do. Purchasing the course won't make you a better designer overnight. But if you do the work, watch all the demonstrations, read all the lessons, and practice what you learn, you will improve.

As your skill grows, new opportunities will open up to you. But your success depends upon you.

If you show up and put in effort, I will give you a path to follow. I'll support you as much as I can, but I can't do the work for you. In the end it's up to you.

That's probably scary, but it's also liberating. Nothing is holding you back. You can do this.

Questions? Not sure? Email me here.