Hey, what’s up guys. If you want to be a great graphic designer, you’ve got to have great tools.
Today I’m going to talk you guys about the tools that you need. We’re going to go over the 7 tools that I think are absolutely critical for any graphic designer — whether you’re self-taught or a college graphic designer, it doesn’t matter who you are. We’re going to jump in and we’re going to talk about these tools, and you’re going to get some insights into how I use them on a daily basis to help grow my business. I’m also going to be sharing some Amazon affiliate links to make it easier for you to shop my favorites. Without further ado, let’s go ahead and roll right into it.
So the first tool you need is a tablet. This is the brand new iPad Pro. I don’t have that fancy keyboard thing, the magic keyboard that Peter McKinnon got. I got this nice one here, and I really love it. It doesn’t really position as well as that magic keyboard, but I use it a lot. It’s a really, really important tool; you’ve got to get a tablet. You can actually get the Apple Pencil for this. It’s pretty cheap (actually, nothing for Apple is really very cheap) but it’s about $90, I think for the Apple pencil. And you can actually draw on this. There are apps like Pro Create, Illustrator apps, there are Photoshop-type apps — all kinds of apps that you can use to draw directly onto your tablet and create amazing pieces of artwork: graphics, logos, sketches, whatever you want for this.
So that’s the first thing you need: a tablet. I think every graphic designer needs to have a good tablet. And if you’re not into the iPad, you don’t need an iPad. You can use something like this Wacom Cintiq Tablet that’s just dedicated to drawing. And it has some nice controls on it that the iPad doesn’t have.
This is the Wacom Pen that comes with it, which is awesome. It’s got a bunch of little nibs, or tips, if you will, that you can replace in there. There are different colored little spiral things that go right in there, but this is really, really good. It has over 2000 sensitivity points. It can detect your angles, your leans, your pressures, up, down. It works just like a real pencil, if not better. And you know, the texture isn’t the same as paper, but you’ll get used to it. It’s a really great tool. They make them in larger ones. There’s people I’ve done videos with who have, like, the 20-inch tablets. They’re huge. This one I think is a 14 or 15-inch. Something like that. It’s not a huge one, but it also comes with a nice stand. And you can see here, there are a couple different points where I can actually drop this thing down and put it at different heights, if I want it more tilted up or tilted down.
Wacom Cintiq tablets are awesome. I’ve been using this thing for a few years now. I haven’t used it as often as I wanted to, because I have other ways to do that, with the iPad and even my phone, which I’m going to show you in just a few minutes here. So that’s number 1.
Number 2 is Adobe Creative Cloud. If you’re a graphic designer, you should really be using Adobe. I’m not an affiliate of theirs, I’m not getting paid for any of this stuff, but I just really love Adobe as a company. I even own some of their stock. They have an amazing assortment of tools. They’ve even added on marketing experience. You’ve got Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe Acrobat, Premier, Audition, all of those programs that I use on a regular basis. And they’re becoming a better and better company.
The creative cloud membership is going to cost you. The days of pirating the Adobe software are over, I feel; I don’t think that’s the right way to do business anyway. But I think everybody should get Adobe Creative Cloud. There are even some add-ons like Adobe Stock, for like $30 a month. You get 30 images, or something around there. It’s just a really good tool to have. You want to use Adobe Stock; it’s just a valuable resource. You can pull all kinds of photos, images, illustrations, icons — so just a really, really great resource. And then you can build up your own portfolio of stuff, once you license them.
Number 3 is your computer itself. Having a great computer as a graphic designer is very important. Now, I’ll say this: when I first started, I couldn’t afford a MacBook Pro. I couldn’t afford a Macbook Air. I did not have the money to go buy a very expensive computer. But what I knew I did need was a very good graphics card in a computer. I think my first one was an Acer, and it had a gig of dedicated video memory. You need to make sure that if you’re going to buy a PC-based laptop, like AMD or Intel, something like that, that it’s got a good graphics card inside of it, so that you can process some of the images, the graphics, even videos, that you’re going to do on there, and it can keep up with that.
That’s the great thing about the Macbook Pro: it doesn’t really have a problem keeping up with what I do. Now, as my career has developed, I’ve made great money and I’ve continued to invest in great tools like this. Now I’m all Macbook Pro. Next step for me is the IMAX. I’m going to get one for myself, and I’m going to get one for Ian. It’s a really good tool for you to get, too.
You really need to invest in a good computer. This is your lifeblood. This is your income. More than anything else we’re going to talk about today, having a great computer is essential. You have to have a great computer — fast graphics, good displays, and having a laptop like this is great because I can take it with me wherever I want to go, out and about. So this was a really good tool to have. And then, like I said, make sure that you can pair that with Adobe Creative Cloud. That will be really, really helpful.
Okay, so number 4 is external solid state drives. You can get it a regular external drive, but I’ll tell you right now: I’ve had half a dozen of them, and every single time I get one, I drop them and they go bad. Every time. And I lose everything that’s on them. So now, when you have a solid state drive, just like what’s in this Macbook Pro, it’s not a traditional hard drive; you’ve got a solid state drive. You can take this with you on the go. If I drop it on the ground, I’m not going to be stressing out and worried that I just lost everything that’s on it.
Some of these are really huge. Like, this one right here is a 1-terabyte. I have this one here that is a 500-gigabyte, so half a terabyte. And then… I don’t even know how big this is, one of my first ones that I bought… this one is 500 gigs, too. So I have 2 terabytes worth of information just on these 3, and I just bought another one, which I believe is 2 terabytes by itself. These are really, really great to have.
I also use an SD card, and the MicroSD cards that go in the camera, very often, because they have the slot here on my computer. But those get filled up, and they also break. They’re very fragile. So you want to have something that you can use to back up all of your stuff, aside from Dropbox and online cloud storage. You want to have some cold storage where you can put your files, put your information, all of your artwork, all of your clients’ stuff, so that if anything ever happens, you’ve got backups of all of it.
Now, the next thing — and you can see here, I have this wire coming out because it’s connected to my phone — is your cell phone. I want to encourage you to get a really, really nice cell phone. This is the Galaxy Note 8, so it’s a few years old. Something like this Galaxy S21 would be more current. It’s outdated at this point, but it still works great. As an artist, like I am, I like to draw little sketches or come up with logos for clients. I’m doing little labyrinths, and coming up with designs; I can do all kinds of cool stuff with this, because it has a pen.
If you’ll notice, I’ve talked about a pen quite a few times in this video. As an artist, if you are an artist, you want to have a pen around for your creative brain, when you’re drawing, when you’re coming up with and sketching ideas. Even when my team is doing graphic design projects for me, and I’m not doing the designs myself, which is more often than not — about 90% of the time — I need to be able to sketch out, on those designs that they send me, the changes, the revisions. Change this, fix that; taking screenshots, circling things. This pen has been really, really helpful for me, so my next phone that I get is definitely going to have a pen in it as well. I won’t get one unless it does.
It’s important that you have a good phone because the phone is also like your laptop, the lifeblood. This is where you’re going to be able to send text messages. You’re going to send out emails. You’re going to put out phone calls. You’re going to get business in the door. Your phone is your moneymaker. This is the execution, and this is how you bring the work in. So it’s really important that you have both of these things — well, all of these things. Like I said, all 7 of these tools are very, very important.
Then the last one — actually, the last 2 — is the desk. You want to make sure that you have a good battery backup that you’re working at. A lot of people go rinky-dinky, and go cheap on their desks, but desks are really important. I have this desk, I love this because of a couple things. One is it does this: [pushes desk level down] See that? It’s a variable desk.
They have different brands, different companies that make desks. It’s just helpful to be able to sit or stand with these sit/stand desks. I like it because it’s versatile, it adapts to what I’m feeling at the moment. If I’ve been sitting all day long, and I’m just tired of sitting, it helps me with my performance and efficiency, and also with my physical body. I can actually get up, stand up, stretch. It’s better, because we’re sitting in front of a computer most of the time, almost all day for some of us. So it’s really important that you get a good desk.
Then, along with the desk, you need a good chair. You need a good chair, a chair like this. It’s ergonomic, it’s got all the different settings. I can adjust the back, the height, the incline, all of that. I spent a couple hundred bucks on this chair at Costco, it was a really great deal. And it’s super comfortable. I can sit in this thing for 6 hours and not even realize. I get up every 30, 45 minutes, but still it’s a great chair to use. That’s just something that you need to have.
You need to have great desk, great chair, great computer, Wacom Cintiq tablets or iPads, a great phone, and you’ve got to get the right software. And then you need to have some storage. You’ve got to have some good storage to back your stuff up, because you can’t just depend on Dropbox or Google Drive to have all of your information. What if something goes wrong? What if they get hacked? There’s been a lot of hacking going on. So you want to make sure you protect your clients, and you protect yourself. Imagine having to recreate all the work that you did for clients because it all disappeared — that would suck. I’ve had to do it before.
Then I wanted to throw you a little bonus. Lucky number 7 for many people, but my lucky number is 8. Last thing I wanted to show you is a battery backup. These things are awesome because battery backups like this one — see how big it is? It’s literally almost the same size as my phone. I can charge my phone 3 times on this. It’s got 2 ports, so I can actually charge two devices at the same time. I usually use it for my tablet, and for my phone more than anything.
So these are a great, great resource for you as well. If you’re out and about a lot, if you’re a freelancer and you’re traveling — I have a lot of friends who are graphic designers that travel — you need to have a good battery backup. I’m actually probably going to buy a second one of these, because they’re only like $10. I think I got this for $9.99 at Walmart. It’s just a good thing to have that extra power source. If you’re out and about, you may be using a hotspot, and if you know about hotspot, it drains the battery on your phone. So you want to have something you can plug your phone into to give yourself internet for a long enough period of time.
So those are all the things I wanted to share with you today. These are all great tools to have. Every graphic designer or web designer, any creative person, should have these devices, and have the outlet to be able to create, design, draw, and create your magic. So that’s what I got for you guys today.
If you liked this video, and if you’re using any of these, let me know. If there’s a tool that I didn’t include in here that you think should be included. I can do an expanded version of this later on, but I’d love to hear from you. So make sure you hit that, like button hit the subscribe button, share this with a friend. I want to keep this thing going. So thank you guys so much for your support, for watching today. I’m Adrian Boysel, and as always, keep looking up.