Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Helen Shewolfe Tseng

Helen Shewolfe Tseng

Artist, designer, wolf witch

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Helen Shewolfe Tseng, and I am an artist, designer, and weird wolf witch. I co-host Astral Projection Radio Hour on BFF.fm with my friend Melissa, who I am also currently writing a book with.

What hardware do you use?

I split my time between working from home and traveling between various clients and collaborators, so having a minimal, lightweight setup is my main concern. I use a 13" Macbook Pro. I primarily draw with a Magic Mouse -- I love that they're wireless and ultra-portable, and I've attempted various Wacom products but have always immediately hated all of the extra stuff you have to carry and plug in. I have a pink iPad Pro and Apple Pencil for sketching, but I still use pen and paper a ton -- usually Muji recycled notebooks, Microns, Graph Gear 500 drafting pencils, Le Pens. I take photos and scan things with my iPhone 6S, which has one of my FUCK TRUMP cross stickers on it; strangers like to comment on it and I'll usually give them a sticker if they agree. And I always have headphones handy for music, podcasts, and signaling to people that I want to be left alone.

I keep a small home altar with things like candles, crystals, palo santo, sage, tarot cards, a coyote jawbone. There's a smoky occult supply den in San Francisco where I get these incense powders that are uncannily powerful for manifesting -- be careful what you witch for. I like to start each day with a simple grounding ritual: burning something, drawing a tarot card, setting intentions, and visualizing my ego being brutally laid to rest.

And what software?

99% of the time, I'm making something in Illustrator. I make books and zines in InDesign and pixel art in Photoshop. I use Google Drive for writing, collaboration, bookkeeping, research, mood boards, presentations, radio notes, and Dropbox for syncing and sharing files. Spotify for music and collaborative playlists for my radio show. Signal for top secret group texts, e.g. one with my friends Jenny Odell and Joe Veix that's mostly animal memes and weird internet detritus. I recently traded the New York Times crossword app for Memrise, a language-learning app, for when I want nothing more than to idly paw at my phone and be rewarded with pleasing sound effects. But my softest pal is my log-shaped cat who blobs around my apartment absorbing my excess anxiety. I love you, Roo!

What would be your dream setup?

Somewhere tucked away in the folds of spacetime, there is a parallel dimension where my work can be conjured into existence via soothing activities such as wandering through otherworldly landscapes, taking extremely long showers, howling into the void, or allowing my cat to lie across my keyboard for as long as she pleases while I attend to my other needs.