This is part 5 of the Design Toolbox Series where I interview top designers about what tools they use to help them create their art. This series was largely inspired by Grace Smith’s Show Me Your Dock Series. It’s my hope that you can gain insight into what other designer’s are using, and hopefully find some new apps/tools to check out.
About Matt Ward
Matt Ward is a digital artist who lances freely under the moniker Echo Enduring Media. He specializes in design, illustration and writing, and has several articles published here on MyInkBlog. He is also currently employed as the Creative Director for Highland Marketing, a direct marketing company based out of Waterloo, Ontario.
On a more personal note, Matt is married to his best friend and the love of his life, Kelly. Together, they have one beautiful daughter who is already showing signs of her own creative genius (at least from a parent’s perspective). Matt plays a little guitar, a few video games and is highly involved in his local church.
Matt Ward – Design Toolbox
I have a 13″ MacBook, running Leopard, which I use to do pretty much everything, from designing to writing, to general web surfing. I also have a Toshiba Satellite laptop and an Acer desktop, both running Vista, which I use for the few Windows-based things I still need to do – like testing sites in IE.
I use FireFox. Despite the fact that both Safari and Chrome are faster, I can’t seem to give up old Foxy. It’s like an old friend that I am the most comfortable with. I do open up Safari every once in a while though, usually when I want to work with a site as a logged in administrator and just a regular visitor.
Coda rocks my world. I used to use Dreamweaver for a while, just because it came packaged with CS4, and before that, when I was working on a PC, I used a program called HTML Kit. Those were both okay, but Coda is just more lightweight, and easier to use. It makes it a breeze to manage multiple websites, and I love the way they integrated Transmit, allowing me to move files to and from the server without having to open a separate FTP app.
The default Mail app that comes with OS X has been fine for me. It allows me to download my emails, read them and organize them (though I need to get better at the later). I don’t really need anything more than that. Plus, it integrates nicely with the rest of the operating system.
I use Billings 3. Again, another beautiful Mac app that, though its lightweight, is still powerful enough to meet all my needs. I can manage my contacts and projects, create estimates and invoices, add payments and track everything through a wide range of built in reports.
I already mentioned the way I use Coda to transfer files when developing websites. However, if I need to upload or download other types of files – like artwork to a commercial printer – I use FileZilla. There’s nothing all that fancy about it, but I it has worked just fine for my needs.
On my computer, I use Tweetie. I used to use TweetDeck, and while I like some of the features it offered, I found that it was a real drain on my system. Tweetie isn’t quite as robust, but it’s prettier, and much more lightweight.
It seems like I’ve gone through a number of different RSS readers over the years, but right now I am using NetNewsWire, and am relatively happy with it.
Again tried a few different apps before finally settling on Things, which I absolutely love, especially with the ability to synch it to the app for my iPhone. Now I can take my to do list with me wherever I go, and sometimes even knock a few items of while I’m on the move. So far it’s been the perfect solution for me.
Photoshop for sure. I know it can be bloated and buggy and is prone to crashing, but as far as I’m concerned it is still the defacto application when it comes to image editing, photo manipulations and so on. I’m constantly being amazed at the new things I am figuring out how to do. I also love the smooth integration that I have experienced with Illustrator.
Definitely Illustrator these days. I actually started out with vector art in Corel Draw 6, way back in high school and used a copy of Corel Draw 8 for years. When I first made the switch to Illustrator, it took me a while to get used to it, but now I use it on an almost daily basis, for various forms of illustration, icon design and so on.
Any other apps you’d like to share
There are really only two other apps on my Dock that I use a lot. The first is Evernote, which is a slick little application that allows me to throw together. I can write notes, include websites and all kinds of other information. Even better, I can also synch it all to my iPhone through my Evernote account, allowing me to keep all my notes right at my fingertips.
The other application that I use is MAMP, which basically simulates a local apache server running both PHP and mySQL. This has allowed me to install a local version of WordPress, so that I can easily develop themes even without an internet connection.