Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Elaine Short

Elaine Short

Writer, editor, cartoonist

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Elaine Short, and because of a dumb decision post-college, my internet name is Elaine Tall. This was a stupid delayed punchline and it confuses everyone.

I'm a writer in Chicago. I work for Maxistentialism, Inc., writing and coordinating projects. I helped write the open source compendium of rules for a new version of Werewolf. I also write a cartoon called Funny Girl.

What hardware do you use?

I have just replaced my 2008 Sony Vaio laptop with a 13-inch MacBook Air (2013). Let me tell you something, it's great. I can stream music, open emails, even write emails! I had not realized how bad my Vaio had gotten until I started looking for a replacement. Then I wanted it all.

My techy-hardware is limited to my laptop, aside from my iPhone 4S, which I use as a computer substitute out of laziness, and a set of sultry brown Eskuche Control v2 headphones. For important conference calls with my Dad, I use Apple's earbuds with remote volume control and mic.

I also have a weighty copy of Garner's Modern American Usage language manual on my desk. I am an editor at heart, so consider the thing a security blanket; I learned editing at a college newspaper that the best editors aren't those who already know every AP rule, or what have you, but those who know when to look in a book for the right answer.

These next items aren't really "hardware," but I can't draw my comic without them. I sketch my 'toons on Strathmore's 9x12 Sketch book, and I ink my finals on Strathmore's 9x12 Bristol vellum surface paper, which soaks up my Higgins Black India ink plenty good. I used to "ink" with pens, like the Faber-Castell set for dummies. Once I switched to proper inking with dip pens, specifically Speedball’s "Artists" pointed nibs, I felt a new control over my hand worth the occasional ink drip. I use a Stadtler Mars Plastic eraser, and if I don't have it I can't draw. Yes, it takes me many tries to accomplish the crude and basic forms I call characters, but I didn't say I was an artist.

I keep all of these tools in a plastic ziplock bag. Foolproof.

And what software?

Spotify. Did I mention I write? I hear there are a bunch of fancy types of software that make a blank page look even more blank-page-y. I hear they're incredible. But I use Apple's Pages because it's good and cost me 20 dollars, or Google Docs because it's good, stores online and and costs nothing.

For my cartoon, I have an annual subscription to all those Adobe programs, but I mostly use Photoshop like a toddler learning numbers and shapes on one of those obnoxiously complicated interactive baby-seat things.

I've also started trying to learn new skills, so I have Sublime Text editor, which I've looked at twice, and I toy around with CSS Tricks (not software, but free online tutorials) and that's pretty great.

Also, my Timberlands, because you never know when the road is gonna get rocky.

What would be your dream setup?

A drawing table, or just a space designated to inking my cartoon would be neat, and I think one of these days I'll invest in a Thunderbolt display. Otherwise, I'm content.