couldn't agree more. If you're familiar with photoshop then Illustrator wont take a massive amount of time to get to grips with in terms of interface. CS2 & CS3 now allow you to use many photoshop features (filters, layer effects etc) in illustrator too. On top of this I'd maybe suggest getting to grips with InDesign rather than Quark. I know a lot of studios that use Quark but IMHO InDesign is better and as it's adobe it works with AI and PSD files with a bit less hassle. It also has a great preflight feature which is very handy (dunno if Quark has this?) For type design I've only used Fontshop but it seems pretty good and Adobe AfterEffects is a great tool for animation/video/title sequences etc. Personally I can't stand Flash but it is a good tool. At the end of the day you can be 100% versed in all of these programs and still be a crap designer so take LePeepe's advice and try to keep your eyes open. Suspend your judgement and just produce idea after idea. The more you have the more you can edit through. bookwise, there's a big difference between inspiration and tuition. I'd recommend checking out analogue books in Edinburgh. They've got a great selection of books online. A good textbook on Grid systems will be of great use to you as would a concise history of typography if you're thinking of designing your own typefaces/layouts. It might sound silly but I've always found if a book is well designed itself then the content is usually worth listening to. Avoid anything that claims to be "the ultimate graphic design resource" like the plague. It's far too big a subject to cover in one book. I can highly recommend these studios/authors: Adrian Shaughnessy Daniel Eatock Non-Format Experimental Jetset Designers are Wankers North Spin Robert Bringhurst Finally, the web is a great resource for just looking at other peoples work, from student to professional work. Analysing the work of your contemporaries will be of just as much use as reading someone else's opinion. At the end of the day it's YOUR design work, no-one else's so it's important to be confident in what you like and why you like it. Technically there's not a right and wrong so learn to trust your gut instinct. Also, don't be scared to take inspiration from other art forms and music, no-one can produce a brand new radical idea from nothing. As long as you're not ripping anyone off, nobody will ever mind you taking their ideas as a starting point to develop in your own style. sorry, that was a rant, I just love graphics and hope that over time you'll develop the same feelings for it. It is a genuinely modern, relevant art-form and one that allows you to cross many boundaries into other specialisms (photography, animation, sculpture, crafts etc). I wish you the best of luck.