A Look At My Design Setup

UPDATE MARCH 20TH, 2017: I recently built a new rig. Here’s a look at my latest setup: http://logosbynick.com/look-new-design-setup/

Logo Design Course

Curious about the creative process that inspires me to come up with design ideas and how I go about executing them? Be sure to check out my logo design course for a look behind the scenes at my systematic approach to coming up with design ideas.

So here’s a look at my design setup. It’s rather simple, minimalist and clutter-free, which is just how I like it.

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It’s a custom-built desktop, sporting an i5 with 16GB of memory and running Ubuntu with the Vertex Dark theme and the Ardis icon set. I absolutely love how customizable Linux is. The dark theme looks sharp and is very easy on the eyes, and the Ardis icons are sleek and modern.

Here’s a closer look at the theme…

Screenshot from 2015-10-01 09:59:42

Keyboard

For the keyboard, I’m using the GMYLE Ultra Thin Wired USB Mini Keyboard. I chose it primarily because it’s small and compact, which gives me quicker access to all of the keys. As a graphic designer, I use hotkeys and keyboard shortcuts regularly, so this is a great benefit for me and makes my job more time efficient. I also like the sleek, minimalist design. It looks sharp and it’s very easy to clean between the keys and whatnot. Not bad for only $10.

Here’s a closer look at the keyboard…

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Mouse

For the mouse, I’m using the Etekcity Scroll X1 (M555). This device packs a lot of quality for only $15. The first thing I noticed when opening the package is how heavy it is. This thing was built to last. The top of the device is covered with a soft rubber-like finish, although it looks like plastic in the images. The chord, which connects via gold-plated USB, is not your typical wire. It’s a copper wire with braided fabric covering it, which offers stretch resistance and durability.

There’s DPI adjustment buttons, and there’s also two additional buttons on the left side that allow you to navigate forward and back, relative to a browser, folders, or anything else you may be browsing, which is a luxury I’ve gotten used to. I don’t think I could go back to a standard mouse now.

Finally, the mouse fits my hand comfortably and looks incredible. To say the design is aesthetically-pleasing would be an understatement. It looks awesome. This is probably the best mouse you’ll find at this price point.

Here’s a closer look…

mouse

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Microphone

You don’t necessarily need a microphone for graphic design work. I use this for my Inkscape tutorials that I post on Youtube. The microphone I chose is the CAD U37 USB Studio Condenser. For only $47, this is as good a microphone as you can find in this price range. The audio is surprisingly crisp and clear, and you’ll get even better results if you do a basic cleanup of the file in Audacity.

Here’s an audio test of the CAD U37…

 

 

To complement the microphone, I’m using the Dragonpad pop filter, which does an excellent job of eliminating those ghastly “p” sounds. $7 well spent. In addition, I’m also using a NEEWER microphone suspension boom scissor arm stand that attaches to my desk. I can’t recommend that stand though, because as you can see in my picture, the CAD U37 doesn’t exactly fit, so I had to go rogue and figure out a makeshift solution…

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Software

Although I have a Windows 7 partition on this machine, solely for the sake of using Adobe’s Creative Cloud, I much prefer Linux and open source software.

For 99% of my design work, I use Inkscape and GIMP. For tutorial screencasts I post to Youtube, I like to use Kazaam Screencaster, then edit the file with Blender. I also use Audacity to sharpen the audio.

There’s the basics of my work station. Let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for checking it out!

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Comments

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Nick

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design.

All stories by: Nick
18 comments
  • Phillip

    Awesome setup nick! I am looking for low cost Mic stand for my blue yeti, all the stands I am looking at are like 80+ If you have an suggestions I’d appreciate that.

    • Nick Saporito

      Thanks, Phillip. I don’t know of any off the top of my head. I’m not too familiar with that mic and which accessories are available for it. My guess would be to search around on Amazon and read some reviews. That’s how I find my products. Nice site you got there, by the way. You do nice work.

      • Phillip

        Thanks Nick, I’ve been following your work for a little while actually. Your freelancer guide was spot on, after I applied some of your tips, I saw instant changes, I can give you some hard facts for testimonial support for your book if you wish. Also I sent one of my clients your way for a logo. A lil while back. P.s. I found a stand very cheep too I will be ordering it in the near future.

        • Nick Saporito

          That’s really awesome to hear. I’ve had people tell me they liked the book, but to hear that someone implemented my advice and it paid off gives me great satisfaction. Thanks for sending some work my way, much appreciated, and glad you found a stand for your mic. Cheers!

  • Brais Jorge

    It’s a really Cool Setup !! I can’t understand why Designers don’t use more Linux ! Design is about customization and creativity… and Linux is about customization and performance !! so… It’s the perfect combination

    • Nick Saporito

      I agree completely. I cannot stand being so limited with how my working environment looks like with Windows and Mac. I think the main reason a lot of designers don’t use Linux is because it isn’t compatible with Adobe’s creative software, which 99.99% of the design world uses.

  • Romulo

    I really like this theme. I’m using ubuntu, how can I get it?
    it feels like Illustrator, more attractive.

    PS: I’m brazilian, so my english may not be correct

  • Rod

    Thanks for sharing your setup. I was wondering what kind you had. You seem to have good insight on your audience. I’m a minimalist myself, so I understand your desire to have a cluttered free work space.

    I’ve worked on Microsoft and Mac platforms having used Autodesk, Macromedia, Apple, and Adobe software. They changed so much, or disappeared, or merge with other companies over time. I don’t like the direction these companies are taking there products. So, I decided to switch completely over to Linux.

    I think Linux and the software created for it has come far enough to do professional work with. Of course, I’ll still be open to using mainstream software because, as you stated, it’s what 99.99% of designers are using.

    It’s a shame designers don’t give Linux and opens source software more of a chance. They would be surprised in the freedom that Linux would offer them in creating most of the same work they do with the mainstream software. Also, they would be amazed with the enormous creative community that’s out there using Linux to create professional work. However, there is a steep learning curve in using Linux.

    I know you mentioned using Blender for video editing. But have you played around with the 3D functionality? Also, do you use other Linux software; such as, Kdenlive for video editing?

    Oh! Did you build your website, or did someone build it for you, or did you use a customized build website like Squarespace?

    Thanks

    • Nick

      Hey Rod, thanks for the feedback. Another thing I really like about Linux is that it doesn’t seem to get slower over time like Windows does. After about 8 or so months of using any Windows device ever, I had to restore the device to factory settings just to get it functional again. However I’ve been using this Linux installation for the past 1.5 years and it has not lost a step. I’m not someone who knows too much about computers though, which made Ubuntu a friendly choice for me.

      I haven’t played around with Blender’s 3D functionality just yet. I’ve seen some of the work others have created with it though and I was blown away with what it’s capable of. My problem is that for the kind of work I do – branding – I don’t really see a practical need to learn 3D design at the moment. It would have to be something I do in my free time.

      For my website I’m using WordPress with a theme that I purchased from Envato. I know basic HTML, but beyond that, I’m not very proficient with web design. I only offer web design for small businesses that have no website and are just looking for a nice online presence – sort of like an online business card.

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