10 ways the GIMP image editor changed my life

On the 19th anniversary of the 1.0 release, let's celebrate some of the many reasons the open source image editor has made a difference.
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10 ways the GIMP image editor changed my life

Alexandre Duret-Lutz from Paris, France (Recursive Daisy), CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Happy 19th anniversary of the 1.0 release of GIMP! Let me legally buy you a drink (well, in Canada that is). There are certainly many things to celebrate. Hoorah!

Like other young professionals, I have worked many odd jobs over the years, slowly spinning my strange and broad range of experience into a neatly packaged service. Dabbling in open source editing and design software was once a hobby. Now, I use GIMP every day.

When I think of the primary driving factors of how I have built my own personal brand, GIMP sits at the top of the list. In celebration of its 19th birthday, I have compiled a top 10 list of how GIMP has positively impacted my life.

  1. It has allowed me to create all my own graphic and advertising material—free of charge.
  2. It has allowed me to develop brands, first for myself, then for friends, then for organizations, as a professional.
  3. It has been a design tool for fluid social media and e-marketing advertising material. By enabling me to create unique content, GIMP has helped boost the reach and accessibility of whichever brand I am focusing on.
  4. GIMP has helped me pay rent and grow as a young adult in an expensive city, in an increasingly competitive world. Who even has one job anymore?
  5. Each project I work on in GIMP has allowed me to remain creative and imaginative while balancing corporate work.
  6. It has pushed me to turn my artistic interests into a livelihood, a step that I probably would not have taken if I had to buy a fancy Mac and the full Adobe Suites.
  7. GIMP has been a tool of self-discovery and growth, a skill that has given me an advantage in situations that I could never have anticipated.
  8. It has opened the door to other design and editing programs such as Inkscape, Converseen, and Comipro+.
  9. It has played one of the biggest roles in diversifying my resume and boosting my hire-ability.
  10. Most importantly for avid Linux users… GIMP unlocked the open source world to me despite having zero computer science or coding background.

What have I created with GIMP you may ask? Practically anything—logos, DJ press kits, retail packaging, comic books, storefront banners, bus stop posters, business cards, portfolios, art pieces, websites, clothing and apparel, skateboards, garden and floor plans, photo albums, scholastic presentations, infographics, nightclub event posters, promo material, social media content, convention banners, free drink coupons, out-of-order signs, open and closed signs. The list goes on and on…

What is the best part about GIMP? If you don't know how to do something, the online community sure does, and they are happy to help with written and video tutorials. I've had no formal training in GIMP. Everything I have learned has been a combination of community support, trial, and error.

The need for unique brand material is expanding faster than ever with the increasingly digitized and global world—and with that comes a boom in graphic design work. It is now common to dabble in entrepreneurial endeavors, and there is no longer a need to pay a large advertising firm (with an even larger price tag) to build your brand. The majority of my peers in their 20s understand the need to brand themselves or at least package their skills in a neat and appealing way.

Cohesive with the mission statement of Opensource.com, I hope to give back to the open source community that has helped drastically improve my life, my future, and the future of my peers. I have run basic GIMP tutorials for many of my friends, from a real estate agent looking to upgrade his social media presence to an event coordinator for Engineers Without Borders, to a retail store manager who uses it daily to update information and product cards. We have all benefited drastically from the wonderful piece of software that is GIMP, or more formally the GNU Image Manipulation Program. Learning and exploring its applications has taught me a great deal about myself and the value of community-driven, readily available, open source software.

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Carl is a business manager who specializes in brand design and digital marketing. He writes in his spare time, with projects ranging from nightclub social behavior to comic strips, and DIY aquarium tutorials. He has been a Linux user since 2007 and a lifelong convert to the open source software movement.


Cool! Comparatively speaking I have zero GIMP experience. But I do know that the few times I have used it, the open source community has always come to the rescue with a relevant tutorial.

What this is all about!

If you use FOSS software and if you have the opportunity, please consider making a donation. We should not forget that the alternatives are very expensive, so if we can we should give something back. And it does not have to be money! Actually, bugreports, bug fixes, translations, documentation, web development, graphics, blogging about it, making a tutorial, video, there's so much people can do that is of more value than a one time money gift!

I love Gimp. It's a great application. I recommend it to teachers and students and it's installed in our public library on all computers.

I certainly agree that it is a cornerstone to open source graphic arts. I would say the first 5 things on any computer I use is GIMP, LibreOffice, Firefox, VLC, and 7-zip.

Thank you for mentioning Converseen. I had normally just used bash and imagemagick for image conversion, but had not seen anything suitable for someone used to IrfanView.

I'm not a designer but seeing coporates are paying Adobe forever, chasing versions forever just due to my client can't open my files, it's very sad we can't persuade our designers to use GIMP as alternative. I believe gimp is powerful and continuously improving. Only I think what's missing in the world is a complete guide and mapping gimp functions to photoshop. If those who are familiar with gimp can union together and make this "switching" guide visually, I believe the war will truely begin!

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