As a designer, there are a great many things that are essential for you to be able to do your job, whether you’re working from home or in a design office. For me, the most obvious things are my Mac, broadband, a space to work in, eyes, a very large coffee, and a brain that’s not too sluggish from being in the pub the night before.
So there are lots of things that I need, but what couldn’t I live without? What would be the absolute worst thing to not have during a whole day of work in the studio? To answer this question, I’ve put together this list of 10 things I see as essentially to my working day as a designer.
01. A Wacom
This nifty bit of kit has been with me since I started out and it’s been as loyal and reliable as my own husband (maybe even more so). I think of my Wacom now as an extension of my hand. It’s so wonderful, I haven’t used a mouse in six years. It’s made the transition between sketching everything on paper and then wrestling with the pen tool in Illustrator a lot more fun and definitely a lot faster.
The control I have is amazing and it makes digital drawing much more fluid and natural. Not only that but it is definitely a very beautiful gadget, all smooth and curvaceous. (In case you can’t tell, I really like my gadgets.)
For those of you who haven’t a clue what this is, think of it as a piece of paper and a pen that transfers every stroke you doodle on to your machine so that you can digitise the work. It’s pretty darn wonderful and if I had to live without it? Well, I’d just be sat in front of my machine with no idea how to make the cursor thingamebob move.
I don’t just use it for artwork, I use it instead of a mouse or a track pad for everything. I really am severely attached to it, so please don’t take it from me!
02. A sketchbook
This may be an obvious one but it’s definitely an essential item. With my face planted in front of a 27-inch screen all day it’s sometimes good to break away and do a little super quick five minute doodle.
I take my sketchbook with me wherever I go because you never know when someone is going to be late to a meeting and leave you twiddling your thumbs. Or maybe I’ll have a brainwave for a new project and need to jot some ideas down before the idea flies away.
I also keep a notebook by the side of my bed. I’m not a great sleeper so I quite often do think about projects and work during the night. And sometimes I get some great ideas so it’s perfect for spontaneous project planning.
My sketchbook is pretty much my Bible. It’s got doodles in it that have been turned into infographics and motion graphics, so it’s like a diary of sorts. It’s great to look back on. The only downside is that I just have stacks of old sketchbooks all over the house and the studio. Oh well, maybe they’ll be worth something someday.
03. Post-it Notes
I definitely couldn’t work or live without Post-its. I’m talking about the actual real, physical kind, not one of those sticky pad applications you can download to your computer. In fact, I’m probably keeping the Post-it manufacturing industry afloat all on my lonesome. In the way that my sketchbook is my idea jotter and doodle Bible, Post-its help me organise my day and keep on top of tasks.
I do use a digital calendar as well of course, inputting all the tasks I need to do for the next day so I have a clear list of to-dos. But my Post-its are an extension of that and a way to keep everything at the forefront of my mind. I can close a calendar but if I’ve got Post-its in front of me all day, along with lists, there’s no way to get away from what I need to do and that keeps me focused.
I also use Post-its for personal encouragement and goals. If I see a phrase that really jumps out at me, I’ll jot it down on the nearest Post-it and stick it in view. Or, if I need an extra kick of motivation, I keep specific goals I want to achieve in view.
For instance, in three years’ time I want to have hired two junior designers and be working for more overseas clients. These little reminders keep me motivated, energised and focused.