The Setup


What do people use to get stuff done?

Patric King

Patric King


Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Patric King. I'm a sort of blend of a writer, hobbyist typographer (by no means professional, although I did actually intend to be a pro while in college), print designer, and interactive designer. I started my career in print about fifteen years ago with Thirst, where we developed work for Herman Miller and Gary Fisher, but I then quickly became enthralled by interactive work. I've worked on the net, almost exclusively, since 1997. I think my biggest claim to fame since then is that I designed all of the brands in the Gawker Media stable of blogs.

Right now, my focus is bringing well-designed marketing to industries I believe in, to help them develop more financing. We're doing work to promote new architecture, solar infrastructure, shared kitchens, and low-cost insurance. It is not glamorous, but it is the right thing to do. Designing pretty things is nice, but it's time for me to do something bigger than me.

What hardware do you use?

I've never worked on anything but Macs, more out of coincidence than preference. I'm sort of not really loving Mac OS right now, but it's the devil I know.

Right now I'm on a 15" SSD MacBook Pro, one of the retina ones, and I jammed it with 16GB of RAM. I use a Wacom Intuos 4 for all my input, mice hurt the hand too much.

This is the first laptop system I've ever felt compelled to make my primary machine, mostly due to energy usage savings, and a change in my own work. In years past, my work has been very image-heavy, meaning I needed to spend lots of time and power rendering animation, video footage, skinning meshes for illustration, that sort of thing. Lately, I've reverted back to a more typographic and linguistic focus, meaning my hardware can be more lightweight. Working in an image-driven manner was great, but it's time for me to try something else.

Our electric bill fell through the floor when we switched all our machines to SSDs. When both of us were on towers, exclusively, our electric bill would top $150 monthly. Now, it's hovering around $50.

As for mobile computing, I carry an iPad with me to meetings because I desperately hate laptops in collaborative situations - laptop users always burrow into their machines if they don't know or like what's going on in the meeting.

I generally don't need to sketch in meetings, but if I do, it happens on paper. Digital sketchbooks don't work for me, primarily because I need the tactile response while I'm going through ideas. Working on a screen feels too much like work for me. I always have a pocket-sized sketchbook, hand sharpener, pencil, and kneaded eraser on me. I never use pens, ever, I like to start with an idea and revise. Pens don't let you do that.

And what software?

Adobe CS6 (I'm on their advisory panel for Creative Cloud), for project management between myself and my partner, Dropbox for file sharing with clients, Google+ Hangouts for remote meetings, Maxon's Cinema 4D for dimensional rendering and animation (it's rare, but it happens), Coda & Transmit from Panic software for coding and moving around files, and I'm moving to Gridset for grid design. Typography (when I need custom faces) happens in Glyphs.

When I'm designing for the web, sketches happen on paper, then are moved to Adobe Illustrator where I can be assured my work remains resolution-independent as I move between low rez and high rez scenarios (the best example of this is our work with a few years back when we needed to reproduce the same things for the web, as a series of banner ads, and for backdrops to be displayed in their lounge at the Sundance film festival).

What would be your dream setup?

This is vague, but a system which dispenses with pixels as a measurement unit now that they're beginning to not matter.

I would love to see a return to a longer turnaround between software packages. There's an artificial churn happening in how quickly we need to re-learn tools, because companies are learning to move their software products to a subscription basis. I am seriously tempted to jump off that bandwagon, if I were confident I could find a workflow and OS that wouldn't be painful to re-learn on a bi-annual basis, rather than every six month.

Previously: / Next up: