Designer Toolkit

These are some of the things I use on a regular, if not daily, basis.


1. Pantone swatch books:

Every freelance designer should have a set of Pantone swatch books (preferably the actual swatch tear sheets, but those are much more expensive). I use them mostly when working with clients to find their branding colors. I got them on sale from My Design Shop. The most important one to have is the colorbridge book for coated paper. It Matches up Pantone colors with a similar CMYK value and also demonstrates digital printing can’t get close to Pantone.

2. Folding For the Frugal Booklet

This is a booklet I picked up as a swag gift after the Design Standard Book  Paper Folding release in San Francisco. It was an event where Sappi Paper, Kit Hinrichs (Design Legend), and Trish Witkowski (Paper Folding Guru, who standardized the names of folds as we know them) teamed up to put together a beautiful book on paper folding for designers and printers. It’s supposed to serve as a reference guide and inspiration on how to incorporate more interesting folds into our print work. That standards book can be found at The smaller swatch style version in the photo is actually online for anyone to check out at Trish Witkowski’s

3. Digital Camera

My camera comes with me everywhere, because I never know when I’m going to find something inspiring that I need to document. I carry my new canon point and shoot (shown is my old canon) for every day stuff and I take my Nikon DSLR for weekend adventures when I hope to take more high quality photos. I used to sell cameras and I always suggest canon or Nikon. They are solid little cameras and are pretty easy to use.

4. Ipad

This was my graduation gift from my parents, and I use it a lot for freelancing. Instead of lugging around my old print portfolio  (which is outdated already), I created an iPad version of my portfolio and bring that around with me to interviews. I also use apps like evernote and pinterest for inspiration and time keepers for my freelance clients.

5. Laptop

I’m late to the party on this one. My Macbook pro is not even a year old yet. I’ve rocked my iMac for 5 years now, and am looking to upgrade pretty soon. My mac book serves as my “surf the internet on the couch” computer until I purchase CS6.

6. Iphone

Also very late to the party on this one. This is my first iPhone and I’ve only had it 4 months, but I don’t know how I’ve ever functioned without it. It’s my blog planner, my email, my pinterest inspiration finder, and life sharer.

Favorite apps:

  • camera +
  • instagram
  • pinterest
  • kindle/amazon
  • twitter
  • blog lovin
  • pandora
  • dropbox
7. Wacomb Bamboo
I’ve been using wacom tablets since I was 11 years old. I bought my first one for $80 and have been given 4 since then. I don’t use a mouse ever and that’s the way I like it.
8. Uniball pen

These are my favorite pens. They are super inky and never clog on you.

9. Communication Arts Magazine

I have a stack of  computer arts, communication arts, how magazine, CMYK, and Print magazines that I keep for inspiration. My favorite has to be communication arts design annuals. I had the chance to visit Communication Arts through an AIGA SF Studio Tour and I’m incredibly impressed with the space and how few of them pull off such an amazing magazine.

10. Hardrive 

It’s pretty self explanatory that a designer must back up their work in multiple places. A good hardrive (or two) are best for making sure when your technology fails, you don’t lose everything. I speak from experience unfortunately.

11. Moleskin Planner

I know I have that fancy iPhone, but i still function best by writing my appointments down on paper too. There’s something about writing things down that always helps me remember better. This little weekly planner has my life in it.

12. Moleskin Plain Notebook

Kind of a gimme, but Moleskin notebooks are my go to notebook. I love the smoothness of the paper, but I’m not doing a lot of hardcore sketching or modeling . Most of my books are full of lists and doodles.

So that’s my toolkit. I’d love to hear about your toolkit, especially if you’re a different type of creative like a photographer, or a fine artist. It’s great seeing what other people use to create their awesome work.




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