In this week’s episode we take a look at the tools and equipment that help us in our daily design work. We look at everything from what hardware we’re using to which apps save us countless hours and headaches. I hope you have your notepads ready, because I guarantee you’ll walk away from this episode with some handy new tools and services lined up to transform how you work.

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Show Notes for This Episode:

[1:00] This week’s we’re talking all about tools of the trade
[1:30] Ian suggest firstly sharing which types of computers all the hosts are using
[2:00] Tom is using a 5-year-old MacBook Pro and always has multiple windows and tabs opened
[2:40] Ian is using a 27” 5K display iMac, a 12.9” iPad Pro and Apple Pencil and also a Microsoft Surface
[4:00] Dustin has a similar set-up as Ian and uses a 27” 5K display iMac a 12.9” iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. He recently got a small MacBook and also has an Epson Perfection v600 scanner
[5:00] Lisa has a 21.5” iMac which is a bit slow, a MacBook Pro, an iPad Pro and a Cannon scanner
[6:30] All the hosts use the same Blue Yeti microphone but they’re hoping to upgrade to something better soon
[7:00] In terms of design software all four hosts use Adobe Creative Cloud and they all have subscriptions
[8:00] The hosts debate Adobe’s model but all agree that the price of the subscription works out well as buying the programs would be too expensive to afford
[9:00] Ian found it a bit hard to afford the Adobe subscription as a first-time freelancer
[10:00] He thinks of selling his iMac to get a MacBook Pro as he is travelling more and finds the model of renting equipment more useful
[10:50] Tom says that times are changing and this reflects in the subscription and cloud models
[11:20] Other more affordable design programs are also eating a bit of Adobe’s market share
[12:20] For programs used on the iPad the hosts prefer using Procreate
[13:30] Ian mentions the app Mailplane which allows him to access multiple Gmail accounts at the same time and it keeps the web interface
[14:00] Lisa finds Outlook very useful for accessing her emails and Tom mentions he also uses this and Gmail for his work emails
[15:20] Ian likes Gmail’s feature which allows you to split your emails into different sections such as Updates, Promotions, Social and main Inbox
[16:15] Dustin says he uses Airmail 3 and likes which he uses frequently
[17:15] For instant communication Tom and the DC team use Slack. Dustin also uses it sometimes
[18:30] Tom lists all the great features of the Slack instant messaging app
[19:20] For organising his multitude of fonts Ian uses FontExplore X Pro
[20:20] Tom wishes he would be able to organize fonts in Photoshop under categories and subcategories such as: hand drawn fonts
[21:00] Ian says that FontExplore X Pro includes these features but it doesn’t come cheap
[21:45] Tom has to scroll through thousands of fonts to find the one he needs for a project and finds this time consuming and very frustrating
[23:00] Dustin lists and describes two non-design apps which he uses frequently: Yoink and Paste
[24:30] Another app that Dustin uses often is Bartender 2 which allows him to sort his apps on the Mac
[25:30] Tom uses the Freshbooks or Quickbooks webapps for invoicing
[27:20] Lisa got introduced by Tom to TextExpander and she finds it really useful
[28:00] Tom and Lisa explain how TextExpender works and all of its benefits
[29:30] Dustin mentions he uses CloudApp for easy file sharing
[30:20] Ian uses a similar app called Droplr and Dropbox for file sharing
[31:30] Ian and Tom mention a few backup solutions and secrets
[32:15] Lisa hides her hard drive when she goes on vacation
[33:00] Dustin suggest listing other physical things that make their day better
[33:15] Ian uses paintbrushes and has a huge amount of pens and he always starts his work on the paper before transferring it to digital
[34:30] The hosts share a common love for notebooks
[36:00] Ian has a printer/scanner which he allows him to do work with A3 paper formats
[37:00] Lisa asks the other hosts if they have files they constantly use and mentions she has a folder with 10 files she uses the most
[38:00] Tom saves PSD templates which he frequently uses for social graphics or email headers
[38:30] Dustin mentions that at RetroSupply.Co they’ve done products from which they can pull assets and use constantly
[39:40] The hosts agree that having textures and/or fonts saved in a folder are a real time saver
[40:15] Ian has a Wacom tablet which he uses mostly as a mouse
[41:30] He reveals that he finds hand lettering easier on the iPad as he can see what he’s doing, rather than on the Wacom tablet which shows the work on the computer screen
[42:00] Dustin tells the hosts his preference of coffee and coffee makers
[43:30] Lisa says she wouldn’t be able to live without Astropad and uses this to connect the iPad to her computer
[44:30] Ian finds Procreate better for his designer needs and reveals the reasons why he doesn’t use Photoshop for lettering
[46:00] For recording videos Ian recommends using a decent microphone like the Blue Yeti the hosts use for recording the podcast
[46:50] Tom suggests that for Instagram recordings it’s better to use the phone camera app rather than recording directly through Instagram
[47:20] Dustin uses an Ikea shelf for all his stationary
[48:00] Ian’s shelves are full of books
[49:00] Dustin has a Grovemade wooden stand for his computer, which is great but he admits that it’s not very cheap
[50:00] Ian thinks it’s also important to reveal the type of chairs the hosts are using and he says he bought an ergonomic Herman Miller office chair for an incredible discount
[52:00] Tom reiterates that these tools do make the designer’s life better and save a lot of time
[52:40] Lisa clarifies that before you go and spend a lot of money on the gadgets it’s important to get started with the pen and paper
[53:00] If an app it’s a massive time saver then it’s worth investing in it
[53:30] The hosts have accumulated these tools in time
[54:40] Ian agrees that is worth investing in the things that he uses the most
[55:20] Tom treated himself to his laptop around the time he started Design Cuts and found it very useful as it was much faster than his old computer
[56:20] For recording the screen Ian says he uses Screenflick which records the screen and audio
[57:20] Ian lists all the features of the Screenflick software and Tom is thinking of transitioning to this
[57:40] Tom recommends Wistia for adding videos to your website portfolio
[58:40] Dustin also uses Wistia and lists a few more benefits of using this
[59:30] Ian mentions the Clean My Mac app and which finds files that you’re not using anymore and collects them in one place making it easier to delete them all in one go
[1:01:20] Thank you for listening to this week’s episode

“A must for every creative freelancer (or those aspiring to freelance). Thank you for being so… honest! Such a wealth of information from people I admire who have ‘been there and done that’. Listening to the podcast every week feels like I’m among friends. Can’t wait for more episodes!”AG_GD