Uses This

1278 interviews since 2009

A picture of Zara Gonzalez Hoang

Zara Gonzalez Hoang

Designer, illustrator, developer, screen printer

in designer, developer, illustrator, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Zara Gonzalez Hoang. I'm a bit of a generalist, I'm design, illustrate and code - basically I like to do a bit of everything so I can pitch in where I'm needed. I run a little creative studio called twistcone which is mostly focused on creating mobile apps although we do other things too. I'm also a part of a sweet screenprinting studio called Big Table Studio.

What hardware do you use?

I'm a one computer girl as of March when I purchased my 2.33GHz Intel Core i7 15" MacBook Pro which I do everything on. It's been working out great so far. I never use a mouse, instead I use a 6x8 Intuos4 wireless tablet - although it's almost always plugged in because I find it lags too much when I use it over Bluetooth. I have an ancient 24" Dell Monitor that I use when I am in the office, but it's not super color accurate so it will probably be upgraded soon. Occasionally I use an Apple Bluetooth keyboard but lately I've been working with my laptop open so I just use the built-in keyboard. I always have a variety of iOS devices around for testing, usually both generations of iPads (one running the iOS 5 beta) as well as an iPhone 3GS and an iPhone 4.

I have a cheap Epson NX515 that I use to scan in sketches and occasionally print things although I use my HP LaserJet CP1525NW more often. For better quality prints I have an Epson R1900. I use a Canon 7D when I need to take better pictures than my phone captures or do quick video shoots.

For note-taking, doodling, and other basic stuff, I always have a small Moleskine or Field Notes notebook and a stash of yellow-tipped pilot pens (The Pilot Razor Point Stick Pen) which are my favorite writing utensils. I have a pile of Letraset and Prismacolor markers that I sketch with and I'm rather fond of india ink and nib pens as well. I just pre-ordered a Wacom Inkling so I'm interested to see how it will change my workflow.

For research and general reading I have a Kindle 3 (wireless only) which I take with me pretty much everywhere.

In addition to doing things digitally I'm also part of a screenprinting studio where I trade in my mac for ink and paper. For screenprinting I tend to use Speedball Acrylic screenprinting ink, metal-framed screens with 220 mesh and squeegees made by Northwest Graphics. Our exposure unit is an Atlas 5-way Vaculite and we print transparencies on an Epson Pro 4000. My favorite paper for printing on is French Paper which comes in a variety of colors and weights that are pretty much perfect.

I also have a Kelsey 5x8 tabletop letterpress that I am currently restoring but hope to be printing with soon.

And what software?

For any graphics-related work I use Adobe Photoshop (CS5) and Illustrator (CS5). Every once in awhile I'll open InDesign (CS5) if I have to do some print work, create an invoice, write a proposal or create a presentation. I can't stand Powerpoint and tend to ignore Keynote in favor of simple full-screen PDF presentations

For coding, I'm actually in the process of finding a new text editor so I'm currently rotating between BBEdit, Coda & Textmate while I figure out which I like best. For iOS development I use Xcode, for FTP I use Transmit and oddly I find that the Calculator is almost always open on my Mac.

General note-taking and head-clearing takes place in Simplenote on iOS and Notational Velocity on the Mac (which syncs to Simplenote). Occasionally I'll write to-do lists in there but mostly I use a combination of scribbled lists in notebooks and teuxdeux. If I'm collaborating with others and need a bit more structure, I'll use Basecamp to organize everything.

Because I often work remotely, Skype, iChat, and FaceTime are great help for staying in touch with people.

I use Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs almost constantly and for backups I use a combination of Dropbox and Crashplan which I've been pretty happy with so far. I use the official Twitter Apps for the Mac & iPhone and switch between Pandora and iTunes for playing music.

For saving inspiration I use a combination of Pinterest, Ffffound, Dribbble and a series of organized folders on my hard drive. I'm one of the few that apparently still use RSS readers, I use Google Reader on the Mac and RSS5000 or Reeder on iOS. For general bookmarking I use Pinboard and for saving web articles, I'm a huge Instapaper fan. I'm addicted to the New York Times Crossword Puzzle and Words With Friends Apps on the iPad.

I've recently been experimenting to see if I can give up paper and comfortably sketch on the iPad so I've been playing around in SketchBook Pro (with a More/Real Stylus Cap) - I'm not sure how I like it yet but it's growing on me.

What would be your dream setup?

My setup is pretty close to perfect for me. It's quite portable (which is fantastic since I tend to work in a variety of different places) and pretty fast. If I could have anything I wanted I'd probably add a new 27" Apple Cinema Display for when I'm in the office, a Cintiq 12WX, and the largest SSD drive out there to speed up my laptop.