You can never read enough ‘what I’ve learnt working on my own’ and ‘how I work’ articles. However I hope to standout somewhat as my way of working in half university related and half freelance related; in retrospective, UArts projects and freelancing are one in the same; artistic designs always on very tight deadlines. Interestingly it wasn't till I arrived at UArts I needed a system to mange my work. That said, rather that give expert advice, I’ll simply outline the what I use to work and why they assist me.
- To-to aka tasks list (both with parent and child categorization)
- Comments aka forms (notes for self and others)
- Notes per to-do (both on parent and child tasks)
- DropBox integration (tracking latest files and what files relate to what sub-assignment)
- Due dates (For sub-tasks)
- History (Visual info-graph of work done)
Before I found Blimp, my up to the minute project status was at best, a poorly educated guess. I would keep my to-do list on post-it notes randomly placed about my bedroom, duplicate files scattered across my local and virtual hard-drives (with no sub-versioning mind you) and seldom any written notes, except for the stray FTP pass info. - Now when I use Blimp, I consider my project, an actually project. If it isn't in Blimp yet, it’s merely a distraction awaiting my full attention. I can attest to it’s value when it helped me manage an iOS app with literally hundreds of user interface concepts and a school typography project with equally as many Adobe Illustrator files.
- Dead simple file sharing
- Collaborative share space for group projects
- Ability to edit files within DropBox and automatically update file online ( see Blimp integration)
- Rapidly test websites without hosting
DropBox should need no introduction as it is perhaps the single most useful utility on anyone's computer. The uses are many and I continually see new uses for this lovely service. It’s ability to share a file with two clicks of the mouse is great as is it’s ability to host private websites for client viewing, without actually being on any website. I keep all my pre-projects locally stores and current and finished projects within DropBox.
- Pin-boards for inspiration or idea generation
- Ability to store images and video for later viewing
- Very intuitive algorithm to show what you may like to find
Their are oh so many websites one could go for inspiration and I too have more than one as well as a handful of artists I admire; but I tend to find the vast majority of mine from Pinterest. I also like it’s dead simple ability to pull in outside artwork for later retrieval be it a photo or video. Their have been a few knock-off’s I won’t mention, but Pinterest remains king. And with its new private boards, using it for school and personal projects has never been more simple. I am still upset it doesn't have keyboard commands, better notes or the ability to pull in an HTML link, but one can always hope.
- Rapid prototyping story-board (or user scenario)
- Ability to color code as needed and forum complex diagrams
MindNode is perhaps the only ‘app’ I use, while all others are SaaS online only enabled, but old habits die hard and I have found MindNode invaluable in my work. A good runner up would be Omni Graffle, however I find that hammering out ideas far faster yet still very organized better with MindNode (pre Omni Graffle version 6).
- Ad-free reading e.g. no distractions
- Ability to directly export to Evernote
The amount of articles online I have to read (and emphasis in have to, as any developer can attest too) is massive. From this I found Pocket long ago helps me read more quickly, more pleasurable and lessen the need to remember what articles to read of. I’ll simply come across them on my iPhone or Mac, save for later reading and when the weekend comes, devote a few hours to knocking them all out.
Text Storage & Notes
- Search within note’s text for content
- Evernote’s ‘Skitch’ annotation app
- Evernote’s ‘Clearly’ app for TTS
It could be said that Evernote can do what Pinterest and Pocket do. However I have found Evernote tends to get slowed down heavily when you use it for visual (photo) notes, has no decent ability to store video and simply isn't a very good “pin-board”. That said, I couldn't live without Evernote. Any text based note I use Evernote for and that consists of hundreds, amassed since the start of Evernote. This is perhaps for those that do web development and programming, whom have immense libraries of gathered scrips and code.
Coda 2 www.panic.com/coda/
I’ve used so many text editors all the way from Text-Edit and horrible DreamWeaver to Sublime Text and bbEdit, however I have found Coda 2 to be worth the cost twice over. First for its wonderful editor with autocomplete for damn never every code but also it’s kick ass FTP ‘Transmission’ thats built in. As an added bonus it can co-op code so you and a friend can work on the same thing at once, without checking in and out of GitHub. Even when I once worked off a design agency’s computers, I made sure to have a copy on Coda 2 on each. Loading it onto my 2ed screen when I work is the only way I find myself most productive. When I am at school I carry a DVI adapter so I can use an additional screen also.
Pen & Paper
Moleskine is unanimously used by artists and designers alike for its paper quality, notebook types and history. If your an professional artist or designer and have never used it, I'd be shocked; but to each their own. I happen to love the paper quality and dye color that doesn't kill my eyes like generic bleached white does.
Uni Ball however makes killer pens and their elite version wins to any equally priced pen. These are very well priced yet still feel amazing, yet you can still throw them away and not feel guilty. Anyone that's ever borrowed my pens always tell me how wonderful they feel. Smooth glide, very little bleed and solid ergonomic design.