Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Alice Rutherford. I work full time as a textile/print designer for a swimwear company. This includes creating artwork from scratch (sometimes painting and drawing by hand and scanning it in, sometimes working directly on the computer), manipulating artwork purchased from independent studios, and putting everything into repeat and color-separating all artwork.
What hardware do you use?
At my job I have a PC -- a Dell with 8GB ram, dual monitors (also Dell), and a Wacom tablet with mouse & pen. We have an art team of 9 people and share a big Epson scanner, a lightbox, & a bunch of art supplies. We also have three large format Epson printers which have been converted to use DigiFab sublimation inks instead of CMYK to approximate the more vivid colors in which the artwork will ultimately be screenprinted. These are a pain since you have to put on an apron and plastic gloves and use funnels, syringes and scales to carefully refill each cartridge from a huge bottle of ink. The PC connected to the scanner is always in some sort of weird configuration -- the tower is on top of a cabinet, the keyboard is precariously balanced on top of the tower, the monitor is on a shelf above and the mouse is used on top of the closed scanner lid. But it works! We also have a large manual paper cutter. We used to have a giant Mimaki printer and heat press to quickly print fabric for samples, but we moved to a new building without the proper ventilation.
At home my setup is pretty hilariously cobbled together. My main computer is a 2009 Mac Pro that my boyfriend helped me trick out -- he works at a university and they were selling off their old models so I got the tower for $20. I installed 16GB RAM and a 480GB solid state drive. It came with two internal hard drives that my boyfriend named Cheech and Chong where I store stuff like music and photos. I work off of the SSD whose name is Landhawk (long story). I have two monitors, a Samsung and a Dell that have frustratingly different resolutions. I also still have my old 2008 iMac, which is a convenient third screen to watch Netflix on, and for Skype since my new setup doesn't have a camera. I use an ancient Wacom (Intuos 2, from 2002!) that doesn't have a current driver so performance is suffering. A new Wacom is first on my list when the check from my last illo job comes through. I have an Epson scanner, an HP printer/copier/scanner that is mildly broken, a lightbox and a 3TB Seagate external HD for even more backup.
I also have a ton of watercolors (I like Angora), fineline felt tip pens (Microns, Staedtler, and I love Le Pen), Staedtler pencils (I don't like anything harder than 2B), and brush pens (Tombow are nice but I discovered that Daiso sells Zebra pens for $1.50 as well as a huge assortment of Japanese calligraphy pens that are bomb. There's a Daiso down the street from my work and it's super dangerous for my wallet to set foot in there -- my early 2000's dollar store obsession leveled up), plus a varied collection of brushes, mechanical pencils, calligraphy nibs, paint, markers, and crayons. I have both a Gocco and a Yudu that I shamefully never use, a paper cutter, a bunch of sketchbooks, & pads of bristol and watercolor and tracing paper. I prefer either plain copy paper or whatever is cheap and slightly toothy for concept sketching (right now I'm using a big Canson spiralbound) but for more intentional, journal-style sketchbooking I love Holbeins.
And what software?
At my job we run Windows 7 and use Photoshop and Illustrator CS5. We also use NedGraphics which is a niche software for textile designers that caters specifically to making repeats, cleaning and separating colors, and quickly switching colorways. We use Evolution RIP for printing; another niche software targeted to repeating patterns and indexed color palettes. I like Firefox best for browsing but I also use Chrome since we use NGC as well and it doesn't like Firefox.
At home I'm running Mavericks but I'm still on CS4. I bought the Master Suite when I was just starting out as a freelancer, and I'm pretty cranky about the cloud subscription that Adobe is doing now and won't upgrade until I absolutely have to. I mostly use Photoshop and Illustrator, Dreamweaver for my website, and very occasionally Acrobat and InDesign. I also weirdly love Bridge. What else? SnapNDrag, Fetch for FTP, and the usual Mac suspects like iTunes. I love Notes and TextEdit for lists and copying art direction so I don't have to keep toggling back to my email. And Firefox. I use Gmail and love Google Docs for budgeting and planning (several of my friends are city planners and you should see the spreadsheets that circulate whenever anyone has a party or we take a group trip).
What would be your dream setup?
Well, I definitely need a new Wacom tablet. I'm annoyed that they no longer come with a mouse -- you have to buy one separately now for like $70, ugh. But that's my next big purchase -- probably an Intuos Pro. I also need a new, non-broken printer -- I like Epson products so that's likely what I'll go for. I'd like bigger and better monitors eventually, and a set of speakers since right now all sound comes out of a tiny section of the tower under my desk.
I'd love to have NedGraphics at home but they are crazy expensive and don't really do individual licenses as far as I can tell.
I'm on the verge of buying a tablet since I spend a lot of time on the couch squinting at my phone or stealing my boyfriend's laptop. I'll probably go with an Android model since I'm cheap and not really a Mac acolyte despite what it looks like (I just started out that way so I got like, grandfathered into compatibility issues). I guess my dream setup is really what I already have, just slightly upgraded. A bigger studio with more storage space and pretty curtains would be sweet too!