Every career has its own “toolbox.” For some, tools are physical devices that help get the job done-- hammers and nails, pen and ink. For others, a “toolbox” is full of thinking methods specific to their line of work-- editing skills, knowledge of their industry, creative thinking processes. I'd love to hear about what tools you use in your job. Leave your favorite recommendations in the comments!
Here is a roundup of Gatlin Paper Co.'s current top ten tools of the trade.
1. Adobe Illustrator
A complex program where dreams become digital realities, Illustrator is the most important tool in my box. It has been quite the journey learning to master it through years of YouTube videos, trial and error, and advice from Tyler and I still have more to learn. I also have it to thank for my claw hand that is developing from clicking keyboard shortcuts all day. Here is a link to Illustrator help...you're gonna need it.
Remember CDs? Nothing gets you out of the zone more than having to rummage through a hundred broken plastic cases to find the perfect mix of tunes. I love picking a Spotify station to match my mood for the day and just let it play and play until it asks me if I am still listening... "Why yes. Yes, I am." Am I feeling “Barista Blend” or “Metalcore” today? Maybe I'll give "Black Coffee and Gritty Blues" a try.
3. The Day Designer
I drank the Kool Aid and I haven’t looked back. This planner is as beautiful as it is functional, with a gorgeous design, gold foil accents, and spots for everything that your brain needs to dump. I’ve challenged myself to make a note in the “Daily Gratitude” section every day, reflecting on the conversations and interactions I have had to find a moment when I thought, “Wow, the world is a beautiful place.” The Day Designer was definitely an investment, but I have never had a more enticing means of organization.
4. Cucumber Water
I like to feel like I am at a spa while I work on my monthly balance sheets, so sue me.
I signed up for the free trial on Skillshare just to see what this online learning platform was all about. Sometimes you feel really behind the times as a self-taught designer. I learned so much in my first month that I signed up for two more months.
6. Arches Watercolor Paper
This top-of-the-line brand of watercolor paper is a vice of mine. It is quite expensive, but opening a new block of this elegantly presented cold or hot pressed paper is like Christmas morning. Find it here.
7. Sketchbook and Pencil
Sometimes the most modern designs start with the most classic materials. For word-form logos in particular, sketching is a super important step in understanding the relationships between each letter. I don't really prefer any particular brand of sketchbook...in fact, the "paper" can be a napkin. Just start drawing!
I am a sucker for some Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich banter. It is the perfect companion to mindless hours of erasing the background of a scanned image on Photoshop. If you haven’t listened to this radio show on from WNYC, please drop what you are doing and click here. Each episode combines storytelling, reporting, science, and humor on a super interesting (and super random) topic. It is to this show that I owe the entirety of my at-home Jeopardy success.
I will keep this one short because I have been told that I can get carried away talking about Squarespace. It is a sleek, simple, and user friendly platform for creating awesome websites while also having the capacity for loads of custom design and functionality. You can really go as simple or complex as you want. Their support is absolutely amazing; if you are having a hard time with something they go into the back end of your site and send a video of your own website being changed, so you can follow the steps to do it on your own. Okay, I’ll stop now.
10. Pantone Guide
I’ve blabbed on about these before, but I really can’t fully stress how much of a critical part of my business these guides are. They are essentially a little library of color swatches each assigned their own code. These universal codes are used to match colors between designs and give you a glimpse into what each color will look like when printed digitally or letterpressed. Are you a client working with me from a far away land? Just ask your local print shop if you can peruse their Pantone Guide and I can use the exact colors you decide on.
What tools do you find yourself using the most? Have a cool app for time-management, a pen that writes like butter, or a creativity-boosting snack that we all need to know about? Share it in the comments below!