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PRO DESIGN GEAR minimalist use to get it DONE FAST

Pro Design gear for creative directors

Welcome back. Before we begin, I should note 2 things. First, this article is an Apple Edition. If you’re not an Apple advocate, I’ll be going over my non-Apple gear in the next article. Second, remember, tools are tools. They aren’t a substitution for your creativity and imagination. They help us do things quicker and easier. A lot of times, they can get in the way if we’re dependent on them. But a lot of times, pro design gear can take a great design to the next level – when you know how to use them well together.

In this series: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Successful Creative Director we’ll be going over:

  1. Benefits & challenges of the PRO CREATIVE DIRECTOR
  2. SKILLS you need to become a CREATIVE DIRECTOR!
  3. PRO DESIGN GEAR minimalist uses to get it DONE FAST
  5. Software and Web Services I Use to Get the Job Done Fast
  6. Keeping Your Sanity with Releases
  7. Turning Ridiculously Long Todo Lists into Regular Goal Oriented Releases
  8. How To Flip Roadmap Todos into a Release
  9. Turning a Release into Actionable Sprints

Build posters with pro design gear

Here’s the simple list of the PRO DESIGN GEAR I use.

  1. Apple MacBook Pro 13.3-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 Processor, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Hard Drive, OS X High Sierra)
  2. iPad Pro 9.7-inch (128GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Space Gray) 2016 Model
  3. Apple Pencil for iPad Pro, White
  4. ZAGG Messenger Folio Case and Bluetooth Keyboard for Apple iPad Pro 9.7 – Black
  5. iPhone 5 32 GB Unlocked, White
  6. Apple Watch Series 2 38mm Silver Aluminum Case with White Sport Band
  7. Airpods Wireless Bluetooth Headset
  8. LG G5 H830 32GB T-mobile GSM Unlocked LTE Smartphone w/ 16MP Camera – Silver
  9. Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera w/ 18-55mm & EF 75-300mm Lenses & Zoom TTL Flash Gun & 48GB Supreme Bundle
  10. Aputure H198 Amaran CRI 95+ On Camera Daylight Temperature Light (Black)
  11. Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder
  12. AmazonBasics 50-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Bag
  13. 2 GoPro HERO Sessions
  14. ASUS PB278Q 27″ WQHD 2560×1440 IPS DisplayPort HDMI DVI Eye Care Monitor
  15. Epson WorkForce WF-7620 Wireless Color All-in-One Inkjet Printer with Scanner and Copier
  16. Cosco Deluxe 6 foot x 30-inch Fold-in-Half Blow Molded Folding Table, Black
  17. COSCO 34″ Square Textured Wood Grain Resin Top Folding Table, Spring Oak
  18. X Banner Stands
  19. Quartet Tabletop Instant Easel, 14 Inches High, Steel, Black (28E)
  20. White Foam Board

Add MacBook Pro to your pro design gear

Apple MacBook Pro MF839LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop with Retina Display (2.7 GHz Intel Core i5 Processor, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB Hard Drive, OS X High Sierra)

  • 2.7 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 Processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.1 GHz, 3 MB shared L3 cache)
  • 8 GB 1866 MHz DDR3L RAM; 128 GB PCIe-based Flash Storage
  • 13.3-inch IPS Retina Display, 2560-by-1600 resolution
  • Intel Iris Graphics, Force Touch Trackpad
  • macOS High Sierra, Up to 9 Hours of Battery Life

First up and so sexy. Even though this beauty is 2 years old, she still runs like she’s brand new. And that’s why she makes it at the top of my pro design gear list. She runs all of my Adobe Creative Cloud Apps with Ease. 80% of my work is done here and well worth the investment. Boots in seconds. I added Windows 10 with Bootcamp (Yuck I know) because my work does require me to use Bionetics, a Windows-only program. I’ve only consolidated 30GB of my SSD to this and still, Windows purrs better than any Windows Laptop out there.

The only con I give it is the small SSD. 128GB is barely enough for a Creative Director. I’m a minimalist by nature but pulling 4K on is a laugh. I’ve remedied this by:

  • Attaching a 128GB USB for current projects
  • All files are synced to Dropbox and only current projects take up space on my USB
  • When I’m done with a project, it’s already synced with Dropbox so I selective sync it off and poof it’s out of the way.

If you do buy one. Get a little more storage and you’ll thank me later.


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Use iPad Pro for pro design gear

iPad Pro 9.7-inch (128GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Space Gray) 2016 Model

Continuing on, I never thought I’d own an iPad, let alone it is one of the quintessential tools in my pro design gear bag. I originally purchased it to get rid of my MacBook – to be more light and mobile. And for the 4k camera to shoot high quality talking head videos and smooth slo-mo BROLL. It does the latter with prestige, but the former, it falls short. In short, the creative industry isn’t quite there yet. It does 70% of my workload good, but for essential programs like Adobe Illustrator that utilizes:

  • Artboards
  • Gaussian Blur
  • Feathering
  • Masks
  • Easy exporting

It falls short and I find myself running back to my MacBook. It’s extremely lightweight and perfect for capturing EVERYTHING. It also doubles as a second monitor paired with Apple’s continuity. This is a diamond that will stay my bag.

Why not Surface Pro for your pro design gear list?

Actually, if you’re a Windows user, this would be the laptop/tablet I’d recommend instead of a MacBook and iPad. You can pull off amazing things I couldn’t do above because it runs a full Windows 10 operations system. I personally hate how Windows works for you one day, and the next, you’re wondering what the hell it’s doing.

Apple Pencil for iPad Pro, White

Next is the Apple Pencil. All I can say is breathtaking! If you’re an artist or illustrator, you have to add this to your pro design gear. This is the latest addition to my arsenal and it’s better than any pencil or pen I’ve ever used. It can’t even be compared to a stylus as they are on the market because the precision is that of the smallest of small mechanical and sketcher’s pencil. I previously bought a $30 comparative and it was better than a lot of rinky-dink stylus out there but truly stopped working after getting a little bit of dirt on the tip.

With the Apple Pencil, Logo Design, Illustration and any heavy web work are ice cream to sprinkles. I can’t wait to see how far this little thing can take me.


ZAGG Messenger Folio Case and Bluetooth Keyboard for Apple iPad Pro 9.7 – Black


Before this case, I bought several cases for my iPad Pro before this one and they were either:

  • Flimsy
  • Lacked a keyboard
  • or extremely heavy

They couldn’t meet the pro design gear standards this Creative Director holds. The ZAGG Messenger Folio Case adds a little weight but not a ton for what it delivers. I’m not so OCD about my 4K camera lens getting scratched and flips all sorts of ways like knows Yoga. Note that it doesn’t fit perfectly for the iPad 2017 9.7 in. It’s just a millimeter off. It will sit in it, but it won’t snap to the edges comfortably – and will inevitably annoy you when it slides out.

Add iPhone 5s to Your pro design gear

iPhone 5 32 GB Unlocked, White (Certified Refurbished)

Next is this old faithful – probably the oldest in my pro design gear bag – is still kicking ass and taking names. With a processor that’s who knows how many versions previous the iPhone X. It still is able to keep my Apple Watch, AirPods and Navigation running simultaneously. I notice a definite lag compared to my wife’s iPhone 6s, but that’s expected. Aside from the usual phone stuff. I test client websites for responsiveness and loading time on an older model phone.

Apple Watch Series 2 38mm Silver Aluminum Case with White Sport Band


It seems like there’s a trend here. Obviously, I love Apple products. But I didn’t always. And I for sure didn’t think I needed an Apple Watch when it was released. Here’s what I’ve discovered as I’ve added new Apple devices to my line up:

  • Above all, they just work. And that’s a must for any pro design gear. I waste my money several times over getting cheaper alternatives and realize I should have just shimmied up the cash to begin with for quality.
  • Consistently is a dream. I know that when I get to work that I’m not going to be waiting on some unexpected Windows Update for an hour that’s going to kill all motivation I have.
  • They last – forever. Unless you break them. We don’t even need to buy the upgrades (though a lot of time it’s worth it after a couple of versions)
  • They pay for themselves in the long run in a business sense. The Apple Watch is like having another smarter brain with you at all times – would you pay a $1 per day for 1 year for that intelligence?

What does the Apple Watch Have to Do with Productivity?

So of course finally bought the Apple Watch Series 2 to help improve my fitness and pack on some muscles, (which I have and now I’m taking up boxing with Daily Burn) but that’s not the true value. You maybe be asking, “How does this fit in to your pro design gear list?” I’ve spoken on this before in previous posts, but the key to being a Creative Director is to be able to find the information fast and deliver fast. I have no clue how many centimeters are in 3 feet (and I don’t have to). With the raise of my hand “Hey Siri, how many centimeters in 3 feet?” BOOM, answer, move on with the design. “Hey Siri, set a timer for 30 minutes” – keep productivity moving when you’re on the timer. Or never be late for break again.

Airpods Wireless Bluetooth Headset for iPhones

If you’re anything like me, music is a MUST for getting work done fast. Like everything else. I didn’t start with AirPods, and I should have. I purchased 5 sets of headphones over last year and they all had their flaws:

  • Couldn’t hold a good battery charge
  • Flimsy
  • Bluetooth buds that can’t sync between left and right quick enough
  • Wires
  • Bad range
  • Irritation on the neck
  • Heavy charging cases

Investing in Quality Pays For Itself

I probably paid double what I paid for these and could have saved – again. Seems like this is a trend in this pro design gear list 😉

  • The quality is ridiculous (You know I’m rocking out on them now while writing this post – Whiskey, Maroon 5).
  • The battery life is forever.
  • No on and off and on and off again buttons.
  • Share with a friend while watching Netflix or jamming in the office!
  • The case is extremely tiny – like a tick tack box
  • Find your headphones feature
  • Double tap to play/pause (or Siri)
  • Remove from ear to auto pause, put back in and you’re back to blazing through your work.

The only downside I have to give them is the automagic connecting between devices. I have to press about 4 buttons (I know I’m complaining) to resync with my iPad if I were using them with my iPhone before. I guess you could blame me for having so many damn Apple devices – though they each serve a very specific, different purpose in my workflow. Reducing monthly projects to a couple days of focused creative work.

I don’t have that kind of money

Neither did I. That’s why I bought all of the cheap stuff and ended up throwing it away after waiting for “Program not responding” crashing errors every day that would waste my time on every project I did. Start small. you probably already have a laptop. I recommend replacing one of the tools you use most with an Apple comparative, and see the extraordinary amount of time you’ll save just by switching one.

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What pro design gear I’d start with if I had to start over and needed a quick setup

There are plenty of cheaper alternatives, but I’ve found that paying a little more for something that works consistently every time pays for itself. If you’re just starting out, here’s a simple budget friendly list:

In conclusion, everything else is optional and depends on the job. In my next post, I’ll go over the print, photography and film tools I use to get the job done fast! See you next time.

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William Mosley, III | Owner | 828.201.2702 | 6 - 8AM Micro Business? | will@startrighttoday.com | 60 N Market St C200, Asheville, NC 28803

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