Tools I use

This is a list of the tools and resources I use in my work.



2018 15-inch MacBook Pro with 32 GB memory.

graphic design macbook and monitor at desk

External monitor

LG 27UK850-W 27″ 4K monitor that can charge my laptop and phone simultaneously. Plus it came in white, so it looks good on my desk. (Yes, I’m the person who buys a bike or athletic shoes based on their color like you’re not supposed to.)


Vertical laptop stand

Twelve South BookArc closed clamshell stand, which frees up desk space.

Color inkjet printer

Canon Pixma iX6820 wireless 11×17 printer.


Black and white laser printer

Brother HL-L2370DW compact wireless 8.5×11 printer for quickly proofing layouts. 


DSLR camera

Canon Rebel XSi.


Extra camera lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. Good in low light, plus nice bokeh for pretty, blurred backgrounds. I take pictures of samples with this, and sometimes photos to use in projects. Or just for my life.


Adobe Creative Cloud apps

I use Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and Acrobat Pro through the All Apps plan, plus the huge library of fonts included with any level of Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

Making packages of logos

I use Logo Package Express, an Adobe Illustrator extension, to create all the file formats needed at the end of a logo project. Pantone, CMYK, RGB, jpg, png, eps, yada yada. It saves a lot of time. Use my Logo Package Express discount code “jjd20” or this link to get $20 off your purchase.


Font management

Currently testing RightFont to organize and activate all the fonts I’ve acquired. I used to use Suitcase Fusion but it got weird so I ditched it.

Live video or screen-sharing meetings

Mainly Zoom, but I’ve also flirted with Whereby, which doesn’t require participants to download any software.


Recorded screen-sharing videos

Sometimes I share a link to a Loom video with clients where I’m talking about what’s on my screen. They can watch it any time.


Proposals and payments

I use 17hats for sending proposals, contracts, and receiving online payments. Clients can make payments with a bank transfer, and the fee to me is only $5 max per transaction. Credit card payments can also be enabled. Credit card transaction fees are much higher than the bank transfer fee, of course, but a lot of clients understandably like paying with cards. I chalk it up to the cost of doing business and try not to think about it.


Income and expense tracking

A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Office supplies

Blackwing Pearl pencils

They’re a splurge, but worth it. So smooth. I feel like they make me draw better? Or at least draw happier.

Blackwing pencils sharpener erasers

Blackwing replacement erasers

I choose the orange ones, of course. A small joy in life.


Cheap printer paper

For sketches of logos and working out layouts. I usually use the back sides of old test printouts. If there’s anything that needs tracing and polishing digitally, I snap a quick iPhone photo of my sketch and Airdrop it to my computer.

hand logo sketches

Tracing paper

For logos and wordmarks where more detailed iterations are needed. Sometimes it’s faster to polish something on paper than with a pen tool on a screen.


Letter-sized spiral notebooks

For holding samples, brainstorming, and note-taking during meetings. I like good ol’ college-ruled 3-subject Mead with the pockets.

notebooks for time tracking

Small notebooks

Whichever is cutest at Target, for logging my hours. Most of my jobs are quoted with a flat price up front, so this is just for my own information. There are apps that can do this, but I like office supplies. 

tracking graphic design hours

Font resources

Premium fonts

MyFonts has nearly everything I buy.


Sort-of-free fonts

Adobe Fonts: access comes with any Creative Cloud subscription.

Free fonts

Google Fonts: current favorites are Epilogue, Inter, Poppins, Sarabun, Fira Sans, Barlow, Roboto, Space Grotesk, Lora, Source Serif Pro, IBM Plex Sans, and IBM Plex Serif.

Identifying fonts

Whatfont is a Chrome browser extension that identifies fonts used in websites.

When I want to match a piece of type or find a similar font, I run a sample through and it will try to find the best matches. 

Image resources

Premium stock photos and vectors

iStockphoto, Shutterstock, or Stocksy, mainly.


Free stock photos

Unsplash, Pexels, and others (see my longer list here).


Photoshop mockups of branded collateral

Mr. Mockup, ZippyPixels, Graphic Burger, or Creative Market.


Premade icons

Noun Project or iStockphoto.


Questions before the contract
Get a free PDF when you join my newsletter email list:
Questions to ask before booking a design project: A script for clients and designers
Join the list
Laptop with Client Finder course screen
Are you a fellow designer? Check out my online course:
Client Finder: How to find more (and better) clients without leaving your desk
Get the course