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I have been working as a graphic designer for roughly 2 years at my local newspaper, I trained under the previous designer who taught me everything I needed to know for the job at hand. Problem is I'm a bit stuck. I don't feel as though I'm improving or that this job gives me an outlet to improve further. I work primarily in Illustrator CC and feel confident with it and occasionally Photoshop and InDesign where my skills are clearly underdeveloped.

Is a formal education my best choice? What other options do I have?

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First, thing to understand is that learning happens or does not happen because of you. Instruction by teachers just accelerates things and helps you because of peer pressure. Dont get me wrong, this clearly helps many persons. Especially foundations of learning are hard to get alone.

Jobs often are a bit repetetive so if you wish to learn new things then you need to be pushing boundaries yourself either on one work project or on your own time. Take as a goal to learn something new each day.

Would formal education help? Almost certainly but it also eats up more time than you currently have invested in your job. So atleast 2 full years of your time would be minimum if not 4-5 years as usually it takes a few years to learn how to learn. If thats choice you want to take fine. Or you could get some literature on the matter and study on your own, for a short term reward thats probably a better choice. Depends on what you want to achieve.

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I can relate! It actually motivated me to make an account here (on Graphic Design Stackexchange). Read about the questions you don't know answers to and seek out the answers to some of the more challenging questions. Even answer the "easy" questions and reinforce basic concepts so you don't forget. There's learning to be had everywhere though. Read into your favorite artists, interviews, tutorials. Get inspired on Behance or Dribbble, etc. Go outside of the box a bit, basic animation, 3D modeling for 2d compositions, digital painting, etc. All of it will help mold and mature your perception of art.

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