When you get started in design there are so many tools and resources that it can seem quite overwhelming. So I’m going to share with you a list of 12 tools for setting up your surface pattern design business that I use daily within my business.
I like to make sure that I create an inspirational workspace. It always makes me feel more creative and able to work more efficiently if I’m in a space that I enjoy being in. You don’t need to have a large space but it’s important to organise it in a way that helps you feel creative.
One of the most important things I like within my workspace is natural light. I also make sure that my workspace is clean and I have all the tools that I need within reach.
A good computer is really important. A faster computer with lots of space to store your files will make working with Illustrator and Photoshop much quicker and easier.
The Adobe Creative Suite is standard in the world of surface pattern design. Illustrator and Photoshop are the 2 most commonly used programs to create digital designs. InDesign is also great for creating mood boards and Adobe Acrobat is great for PDF documents.
If you like to create hand-rendered artwork to use within your designs then you’ll need to be able to scan your designs into the computer. There are many different types of scanner. I use the Canon Lide220 which I really like. It’s a slimline, A4 scanner.
My Wacom tablet is my most favourite surface pattern design tool and one that I can’t live without! It can take some time to master but it will allow you to draw straight into your computer just as if you were drawing onto paper using a special pen and tablet. I love that you can use pressure to change the look of your line work and you can create artwork that looks hand drawn.
It’s not absolutely necessary to have a printer but I find it handy. I often print my designs to check if the scale is working. I also like to print out my mood boards and pin them to my pin board so I can use them while designing. I use the Epson Stylus Photo 1410. It’s an A3 printer and works fine for what I use it for.
A camera is a great way of recording any inspiration you find. I have the Canon 80D digital SLR which I take out when I’m going out for an inspiration walk but more often than not I find myself using my phone camera. A phone camera is perfect for capturing unexpected inspiration.
It’s important to always be sketching and developing new design ideas and the best way to record those ideas is in a visual diary. I recommend having a couple of visual diaries… one for your bag and for sketching on the go and one for using at home. You can buy them in different sizes ranging from A5 to A2.
You’ll also need some sketching and painting tools for your hand rendered work. Some of my favourite sketching tools are Artline pens which are great for sketching on the go, graphite pencils and pen and ink.
Once you’ve created a portfolio, a website or blog is a great way to showcase it. I use the Divi WordPress theme for my website as I find it offers me the greatest flexibility. It’s mobile responsive, intuitive to use and I was able to create my website from scratch by myself with no experience.
After you have created your website, you’ll need to find someone to host it. I use Siteground and I’ve found them to be great. Being a creative and not a technical person it was important for me to use a hosting service that offered great technical support and made it really easy for me to set up my WordPress site. Siteground have amazing customer service which I love.
Social media is a great way for you to be able to get your work out there and be seen. If you haven’t chosen your business name as yet, when you’re in the process of selecting one, check to see if the name is available for the various social media platforms as well and then make sure you sign up for them. I would recommend signing up and grabbing your name for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at a minimum. Even if you don’t intend to use all of those platforms straight away, you want to make sure you’re able to use them in the future.
Personally, Pinterest is my most favourite social media tool as it works with SEO and has become my number one way of getting traffic to my site.
Once you have a group of subscribers to your website, it’s important to be able to communicate with them. There are lots of different mail services out there. If you’re just starting out, Mailchimp is a great option as it’s a free service for up to 2,000 subscribers. I now use ConvertKit as my mail provider. They offer lots of different options and services which I love. There are so many extra benefits which has made running my business more efficient. It’s a paid service but worth the money.
Please note, some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means I earn a small commission if you decide to purchase the product. Rest assured, I only recommend products that I love and adore and which have positively impacted my business. I will never recommend something that I don’t truly believe or use myself.