Stefani Wilkens
Stefani Wilkens | Graphic Designer

journal

Technology You Need

Technology plays a vital role in every designer’s life. It is, after all, how we produce most of our work. I recently published an entry about certain tools of the trade that I recommend for designers. In response, I received a lot of emails saying in essence, “this is great, but these are almost all physical tools, what about technology?”

Y’all had an excellent point, which is why today’s entry is all about the technology you need.

MACBOOK PRO

First up and hopefully most obvious is your computer. You’ll 1,000% want to go with a Mac. It’s pretty much the industry standard. That being said, the Pro is the one you’ll need in order to run all your fancy software (more on that in a minute.) Spending more for extra memory is completely worth it. You really do want the top of the line here. The one thing I’ll suggest to save you some money is to get the 13” size. You’ll ideally also be getting a monitor (I seriously don’t understand why they stopped making the Thunderbolt displays…) so you can get the more compact laptop to make it easier to travel.

Plus, Apple sometimes likes to do tricky things. Back in 2014, the 15” Pro that got me through college finally stopped running any applications other than Safari. It’s now my DVD player and how I hook up Netflix to my TV because I’m too cheap to pay for cable… Anyways, when I went online to order my new computer, imagine my surprise when that year’s 13” Pro had more memory and processing power than the 15.” Trippy, huh? Obviously, that’s the one I got. My wallet was (somewhat) thankful.

While I’m spending your money, go ahead and get a magic mouse and keyboard too. You’ll need them…

PRINTER

Now that you have your computer and all the accompanying accessories, it’s time to consider a printer. I personally have the now discontinued Epson Photo R2000, which save my head from exploding during my senior project. A quality large-format printer enables you to create a good deal of final pieces at home. I’ve printed everything from wedding stationery to posters on mine. While I can’t speak specifically to any of these models, some similar printer options include the Canon PIXMA PRO-10 and the Epson SureColor P800 Designer Edition.

TABLET

Since we all have unlimited budgets, we should all purchase the iPad pro! Right? Right. Go ahead and get the large one while you’re at it.

You’ll obviously also need the Apple Pencil. Got it? Okay.

But really, this tablet is awesome. Since you’re already broke, rack up $10 more in debt and get the Procreate app so you can turn all your illustrations into PSDs and PDFs. I use it for most of my Society6 work and LOVE LOVE LOVE how well it works. Plus, it’s nice to be able to take this to meetings and on trips instead of my laptop.

…I should really buy Apple stock since I’m giving them all my money anyways…

TIME TRACKING APP

Here’s a piece of tech that’s absolutely free. Yes FREE. (See, I’m not entirely focused on stealing your lunch money.) It’s the TopTracker app for tracking your time. It’s accurate, easy to use, and exports timesheet into PDFs, making it super easy to bill by the hour.

Oh, did I mention it’s free?!

GOOGLE DRIVE

Set up your Google Drive to interact with clients. I personally use Drive for collecting content for freelance projects. I create a folder with organized subfolders and share the link with my client. They then drop in Google Docs and photos and I can get to work! Plus, it’s certainly helpful for those of you who don’t have the Microsoft Office Suite (which you should likely also get since it’s likely all your clients will have.)

EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE(S)

Last but absolutely not least is the infamous external hard drive. Real talk: design files take up a LOT of space. They can slow your computer down and just be a pain to keep organized. Once a year, I move all my files to my external hard drive. That way I have them if I ever really need them, but they aren’t taking up space without being useful. In terms of size, you’ll likely want at least 1TB, 2 if you’re doing a lot of motion graphics. Yes, that’s your bank account crying. Sorry!

So, did I miss anything? Are your wallets not quite empty? What other technology do you think is vital to your design career? Let us know in the comments!


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