A Peek Into My Office Toolbox: Great Gift Ideas for Creatives!

Last Thursday I injured my knee while doing TurboFire and I have been forced to take it easy for {who knows how long}. The swelling still persists, so I am only able to work for a couple of hours at a time without having to stop and elevate or ice my knee. Although this is a bit frustrating, I decided to take some time to work on some blog posts since I can't code from the smaller screen. This has pretty much been my office for the time being, except the brace I got from the ER is much larger than the temporary one I had on in the picture below.
While on the topic of my office, I thought I would take the time to write about some of the most frequently asked questions people ask about what I use to create my digital art and blog designs. I am not getting paid to write about these items...these are ALL things I actually have and use on a daily basis. These also make for GREAT gift ideas for creatives!! Some items are on the more expensive side and others can be purchased for less than $20 BUCKS!!

Serious Graphic Design Tools: Gifts for Someone VERY Special

1. Wacom Cintiq 24HD Graphic Monitor {Over $1000}

This is definitely a tool I could not live without. I actually got it as my Christmas gift last year from my Teachers Pay Teachers earnings in December and it has completely replaced the Wacom tablet I was using for drawing. The Cintiq Graphic Monitor allows me to directly draw on the screen in real time with no delays or weird time lapses. It feels like actual sketching once you get used to it and it has saved me from wrist pain and back pain. It is very large and nearly 80lbs, but I couldn't happier with my decision to upgrade! I use this EVERYDAY and I would never go back to using a tablet. The stylus that's included is very comfortable to draw with and I have purchased many replacement nubs.. as the nubs wear down with constant use. My favorite nub to draw with is the soft tipped nub. The original kit only includes a couple of these, but I was able to purchase a stockpile of just the soft tipped nubs from Amazon at a really low price.

2. Wacom Cintiq Companion HYBRID {Over $1000}

This is the best alternative to the Cintiq 24HD when I'm on the go!! This is actually the one I am using in the picture above with my injured knee..{haha}. The screen is quite small, so I do not like using the companion when I am coding or working on illustrations with fine details, but it is a GREAT little machine!! Acts like a tablet, but has the power of a PC with touch screen!! It has two 3.0 USB ports {not enough for me}, so I purchased a 3.0 4 Port Portable hub to use with it. At only $15, it makes for a great stocking stuffer for your geeky family members. I will add the link for you a little later in the post.

PROGRAMS for Creating Clipart and Digital Illustrations:

I always get asked what programs and/or apps I use to create my digital art. My response will always be ADOBE Creative Suite! I own Adobe Creative Suite CS6, but I also pay for the Adobe Creative Cloud Membership. It is far more cost effective for me to pay for the membership to keep my programs updated and current, than to continue to pay for the yearly upgrade. I also get a ton of online cloud storage and coordinating apps to use from my iPad and Android phone when needed. I use Adobe Photoshop CC more than anything other Adobe program I own, but I also use Illustrator, InDesign, Muse, Adobe Edge Code, and Adobe Flash {just to name a few}. The cloud membership, although pricey, allows me to keep all of these programs updated and I can access them from any device or computer. I absolutely LOVE ADOBE!! I have one program on my wishlist that I have been wanting to get to use to create my workshop videos, but it is quite expensive and not included in the Creative Suite... so.. maybe some day... haha You can order a yearly membership through Amazon and save more than 50%!! I had no idea this was available at the time I signed up, so I pay $50.00 a month, which is quite high. There is a student/teacher discount, but the discounted price only lasts for three months. It would be wiser to pay for the yearly subscription through Amazon. This would make the BEST gift for the creative digital artist because the art is not possible without the proper programs. Sure, you could opt to use a cheap app to create clipart, but it will not allow you to create the high quality images that you can get from using the Adobe programs.

3. Logitech Solar Keyboard {Under $100}: LOVE THIS!!

 I LOVE that I never have to purchase batteries or plug this one in. It can be charged using indoor or natural lighting and it is super slim and comfortable to use! Plus, who doesn't love something that will save you money in the long run? You can purchase this with or without the wireless mouse. There is also a MAC version for you Apple lovers!! I just realized that this keyboard is also in the picture I posted in the beginning... sitting nicely right on my lap.

4. Toshiba Canvio Connect 2TB Portable Hard Drive, White {Uner $100}

I can't stress the importance of having a portable hard drive! I never save anything.. ANYTHING on my computers. I save files on an external hard drive and back up the files on cloud services and/or backup discs I create. I have over 200,000 images on my portable device and if I were to store my design files on any of my computers, it would slow them down a great deal. I like to make sure my computers are running at tops speeds and my files are protected and backed up at all times. This is one I just purchased this year. It isn't GREAT, but it gets the job done. It comes in several colors and you can purchase 500GB to up to 2TB of storage for under $100.00. It is slim and I LOVE white electronics. 

5. NETGEAR Nighthawk X4 AC2350 Smart Wi-Fi Router (R7500) {Under $300}

This last month, I had to replace my router because my old was was causing a ton of problems and the range was terrible. After a ton of research, I finally made the decision to purchase this one and I absolutely LOVE it so far. Our house is over 3200 sq.ft. and we can pick up a signal now from any room in the house. I have not tried to pick up a signal on the front or back patio, but it has been a HUGE improvement on the speed and quality of our internet access. Not really the best gift idea, unless you know someone who works from home and great internet speed is a must have.

6. FitBall Office Chair with Adjustable Base {Under $100}

Despite being super fun to use, these Fitball office chars are AMAZING for balance and keeping good posture for those of you who work from your desk for many hours at a time. I bought one a little over a year ago and I switch it out with my regular office chair throughout the day to get in some exercise and core work.. haha

7. DeskCycle Desk Exercise Bike Pedal Exerciser, White {Under $200}

This one speaks for itself. It fits nicely under my desk and I can choose to peddle to get a little workout in while I am hard at work. I also ended up buying the attachments to keep track of my calories, speed and distance. I was not very happy that those things had to be purchased separately... oh well...

8. My Favorite Drawing Pens  {Under $30}
I absolutely love these pens. They are great for paper-sketching and there are a variety of sets to choose from.

9. A Couple of My Favorite Sketch Books & Pads {(Under $25}

This one above is a fun one. It was definitely an impulse buy for myself, but I LOVE how giant it is. I use it for many of my illustrations, but the paper is not that great...I like having a little wight to my sketch paper and the paper in the book is good quality, but not as thick as I prefer. 

As an artist, you can never have too many sketchbooks. I tried the Canson brand last year and FELL IN LOVE!! I love the texture and weight of the paper and I like that the pages have an easy tear...for those moments when you want to display your work.

10. Artist "Mess Free" Gloves {$25}

Definitely a must have item if you are or need a gift for a left-handed artist. It prevents the graphite from the pencil sketch from building up on your hand while sketching. I also use my glove when I am drawing for long periods of time on my Cintiq to prevent print marks on my screen... These are super handy and great for left or right-handed artists.... however... even more so for my lefties!!

11. Fellows Binding Machine {Under $70}

I purchased a binding machine a while back because I wanted to be able to bind my portfolios, printable planner and other things that I create to print. It was necessary to put together my Hello Business Planner/Calendar I use to stay organized and on top of my projects and goals. I absolutely LOVE it! I like being able to do as much as I can directly from home. I included some of the links to the items you will need to go with the machine. You don't really need the dividers or the clear covers, but they are an added bonus.. haha.. I always purchase the largest bundle to help save me money in the long run.

12. Great Creative Books =Great Gifts for Under $30!
Most of the books below are quick reads and great for motivation and inspiration for creatives. The Graphic Artist's Guild is a must have for someone running an online business. I buy the new editions each year and the 2014 version is AMAZING!! The Doodle Revolution is a fun one I threw in for those of you with creative students or kids. It is a fun read to help show you how to incorporate doodling into the learning process and how doodling can help improve student's comprehension and listening skills. I have this book & it is definitely a great resource to include. They make great gifts for all of your creative friends.

Quick Find for The 3AM Teacher's Toolbox/ Gift Ideas

I hope you enjoyed getting a little peek into the tools I use on a daily basis to keep my business running. I will continue to add more things as I come across or try them out. Plus, if you can't tell, I love Amazon Prime.. haha!!

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