Smitesh Mistry and Mimi Chao Are Teaching A New Generation With Skillshare

URL copied to clipboard.
Skillshare, Mimi Chao, Smitesh Mistry, illustrator

Skillshare, an online platform that allows for users to sign up for creative courses in a variety of subjects, has reached new heights this year.

The company, founded in New York City in 2010 by Michael Karnjanaprakorn and Malcolm Ong, offers non-accredited courses that users can pay to subscribe to. Categories include creative arts, design, entrepreneurship, lifestyle, and technology.

Two top teachers from the platform, Mimi Chao and Smitesh Mistry, are making waves in the art world. Both frequently share advice on their respective crafts through their courses on Skillshare’s platform, and Mistry additionally shares some of his own final results on YouTube and TikTok.

The platform is easily accessible for avid learners and teachers from all walks of life. Chao, who is based in Los Angeles, California, took to Skillshare when she made the difficult choice to step away from her previous career as a lawyer.

Skillshare’s Role In Career Changing Lessons

“It was a big career transition for me. I remember at the time thinking ‘I just paid off my law school debt. I don’t want to go back into art school debt.’ I was noticing how there were so many more resources online, that you can learn either from for free or at a very low cost compared to going back to school,” said Chao.

“I also felt that I was able to connect more with the people I was interested in learning from, and that Skillshare is a more modern way to learn. We were not necessarily learning a lot of these things about new media or social media in school traditionally, at least not back then.

There’s almost this catch-up period that traditional school tends to have, whereas platforms such as Skillshare or YouTube already have all of the latest trends.”



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mimochai (@mimochai)

For Mistry, who is based in London, U.K., starting out with graphic design allowed for an easy transition into learning and teaching other artistic mediums. The artist joined the platform in 2018 shortly after his college graduation. “The class projects on Skillshare helped me build out my portfolio, which I eventually used to land my first job,” said Mistry.

What Makes Skillshare Unique

Both Chao and Mistry feel that Skillshare offers a unique platform that levels the playing field for both teacher and student.

“It’s definitely helped me learn new skills. I started initially with graphic design, then learned about illustration, and now most recently videography. And with the graphic community, I think it’s great to build an audience.

Because of the class projects, it’s great to build a connection with your students by giving them feedback, and give them the opportunity to ask you questions,” said Mistry.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Smitesh Mistry (@design_with_smit)


“I think Skillshare is more intimate compared to social media where anyone can ask you questions on your work. These are people who want to learn and you are able to share knowledge with people who want to create rather than just for the views.”

Outside of the artistic lessons, Chao feels that the platform has additionally educated her on the many ways she and her students can share their art with the world.

“I’ve learned a lot of my skills outside of Skillshare, but there are things that are tangential to being a content creator and sharing yourself online that I’ve learned through Skillshare,” said Chao.

She went on to add, “I’ve watched a lot of classes on developing a YouTube channel or things that are adjacent to what I’m doing. I find that extremely helpful because they have such a wide variety of subjects within the creative world.”

As top teachers, Chao and Mistry find themselves in a unique sector of content creators. “I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the top teacher community because Skillshare attracts a very specific type of content creator. They’re generally super friendly, but a little more introverted. I really love both the teacher community and the student community,” said Chao.

Chao and Mistry’s Favorite Teacher Moments

Both top teachers have fond memories of their experiences as educators. “It’s rewarding knowing that the effort and the time that we put into create these classes and knowing that students are getting value and reading them, it does feel nice,” said Mistry. “For me, that’s more rewarding in a way than the income that’s tied to it.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Smitesh Mistry (@design_with_smit)

Chao also loves hearing feedback from her students. “Reading the reviews makes me want to tear up a little bit because it’s so sweet. Explaining my transition from a lawyer and navigating that framework with students is great.

Those are my favorite kind of student interactions because they share their personal stories and the struggles they go through,” said Chao. “It was great having people say ‘Oh, it’s because of your story and your example that I feel inspired to make that change for myself.’ Is incredibly rewarding.”

The illustrator felt that the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a lot of people making the choice to restructure their lives when confronted with the unprecedented situation.

“I feel like there’s room for everybody and with this whole climate of people after the pandemic realizing they want to spend their life in a way that’s meaningful to them and not go through the same shackles of society that people have usually lent themselves to. It is really inspiring,” said Chao.

You can find Chao and Mistry’s classes here.

More headlines