• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

Making do

A recent reply I wrote got me thinking about making do with the equipment we have.

It's so easy to think we need the best equipment or newest gadget to fit the designer stereotype or to produce great work. And I'm not sure this is really the case. What are your thoughts? What bits of equipment do you have that isn't what's expected of a designer? What have you bought that isn't the best you can get, but just does what you need it to do?

I'll get us started. I've got a few. I almost feel like these are confessions...

  • I use a Mac mini. It cost me £600.
  • I don't own an iPhone.
  • I bought my DSLR second hand off eBay.
  • I don't have a massive monitor.
  • I haven't signed up to Creative Cloud.
  • My Wacom tablet is more than 12 years old.

For me most of these are about saving money. Working for myself means if I spend less I can work less. This in turn means I can take more time off or be more flexible.

Really interested to see what you all think.

Stationery Direct

Staff member
As long as it does the job and does the job well then I make do, I will not replace something just to have the latest version or release. The only time I may splash out is if something will save me a lot of time. As an example, I have backed up to shitty little external hard drives manually for years, now I have a Synology NAS drive which saves me a ton of time, although I won't be upgrading the NAS drive to the latest version anytime soon as it does the job for now.

I'm still using Adobe CS5 as well, as long as I can still open files I won't be upgrading this either.
Not quite what you're on about, but I was pulling my hair out about not having time to setup my spare room as a proper studio a month or so ago, and constantly p*ssed off about working from a small screen, then I saw this Charles Bukowski poem on David Airey's blog (I think). Gave me a pretty good excuse to not bother stressing. I guess this doesn't apply if you absolutely need some tech to do a particular process, but for the most part, Charles has a point.

"–you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
but now
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light.
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to

no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses


Staff member
I have a dell laptop, 17 inch screen for working at home. But I have a 24 inch tv that I can hook up to if needed.

At work I finally got around to a new computer, it's great. Before that the last one I bought was around 2006 - it was a much needed change as Creative Cloud is not supported on Windows XP.

I haven't updated to the Creative Cloud either. But didn't want to have WinXp and new CC files and no way to even get the program!

I have a Samsung Galaxy phone.

I don't have an mp3 player.

I see tablets as expensive internet machines, bascially my phone can do as much as a tablet and more.

Although - I have several long trips coming up so I'm considering a Kindle Fire for the inexpense of it all - as long as Netflix works!

I sold my wacom after 6 months.

Now - get off my lawn!
These are great. I love that poem.

There were many people 20 years ago creating much better work than me without the tech.

It's nice to hear that not all designers fit the stereotype.

Paul Murray

Staff member
I try to keep up to date with tech if I need to and if I can afford it, but only when needs must. There's a few things I bought that probably weren't essential, such as my DSLR (which I bought second hand and saved a decent amount) and my Wacom Bamboo, but when I do need these I'm glad I've got them.

My primary set up is a Mid 2010 iMac (which I recently boosted to 12GB RAM as I play a few games on it too) and a Mid 2012 MBP for work on the move or when freelancing in studios. There's nothing extra special I use hardware wise except my dedicated Time Machine hard drive. I even use an old Microsoft mouse because I think the Apple magic mouse is awful to use.

I'm still running CS5 and don't see any reason to upgrade any time soon.

Recently I've bought a few bits of software recently that should last me a while, such as Suitcase Fusion 5 and a FreeAgent subscription for managing my business finances and making self-assessment much easier, though thanks to their referral system it's entirely possible to get a free subscription (for anyone interested use my FreeAgent referral code 43fnulbr for 10% off).

I have an Android phone and use a desk I got in exchange for designing some stuff for a charity.

Stationery Direct

Staff member
I also had a 10 year old CRT Toshiba TV in the living room until about 3 months ago. Although to be fair this should have been upgraded years ago, I now have HD, Sky and everything lol