Blog Essential Creative Tools

Creative Necessities | What Can’t You Live Without?

Most artists and designers will have creative necessities that they just can’t live without. I’m curious to learn what other people use on a daily—or at least regular—basis; those tools you depend on for your work and don’t think you can do without. They can range from hardware like computers and tablets, and software like programs and apps, to hand-drawing tools and must-have comfort items in your workspace. I’ll share my creative necessities below, with links, and I would love it if you shared yours! I am always searching for new tools and tips to make my day-to-day work more comfy and efficient.

Hardware & Software

  • iMac – This is my most important tool because even without any of the other stuff, I could still draw and create new products and artwork, share on social media and communicate with friends and family.
  • Adobe Creative Cloud – My second most important tool for creating. My main apps are Illustrator and Photoshop, but I occasionally use InDesign, Premiere Pro, Audition and After Effects.
  • iPad – Where I often sketch ideas and store products-in-development. All of my iPad sketches are rough and generally for my eyes only, but I love how easy it is to share artwork drawn on the iPad directly to websites and social media. The convenience is insane! Apple Pencil – Not a true necessity, but it makes drawing on the iPad a lot easier. As an addition, I’ll also add the Paperlike Screen Protector, which makes it feel like you’re drawing on actual paper.
  • Procreate – The app that I most use for drawing / creativity on a tablet.


  • Mechanical Pencils – My #1 hand-drawing and writing tool. I have used mechanical pencils for years, dating back to when I used to write short stories and novels (and yes, whole novels by hand with a mechanical pencil). You never need to sharpen them and there’s always a consistent line thickness. I always use a 0.5 nib.
  • Notebooks / Drawing Paper – Another staple of my creative diet. I can’t sketch without paper and pens/pencils. The two ornate-looking notebooks in the image below are by Paperblanks and they are beautiful—definitely my favourite journal supplier ever.
  • Dip Pen – I’ve just started calligraphy, and the dip pen is by far my favourite calligraphy tool. I tried a Manuscript Fountain Pen but got frustrated by the inconsistent ink flow. My favourite dip pen nib is the Nikko G and favourite pen holder is the Moblique Pen Holder series. Such gorgeous colours (see copper and pastel blue below).


  • My Website – This is my central hub where you can find all my products, articles, and updates. I try to check it and keep it up to date every day.
  • Instagram – This is my primary social network where I hang out, chat to fellow artists and designers and network my socks off.
  • Pinterest – To a lesser degree, but still important, Pinterest provides me with a great platform to share my ideas and inspiration. Organised handily into themed boards, it allows you to curate your own work and the work of others.
  • Tailwind – Social media management tool. I can schedule posts from here if I have a series of posts ready to go, for either Instagram or Pinterest. So useful and time-saving!
  • Creative Market – I check the CM community forum most days to see new topics, learn about new trends. They also have a great blog packed with articles and info for all creatives.
  • Behance – Another fantastic site to look for new and upcoming trends.

Background / Atmosphere

  • Spotify – I build loads of playlists and save a lot of user-generated playlists. Music is always in the background when I create. What type of music I listen to depends greatly on what I’m working on at that moment. Movie scores and instrumental pieces are fantastic because there are no lyrics to distract you.
  • Audible – For those (rare) times I’m not in the mood for music, I might pop on an audiobook.
  • Skillshare – Occasionally I will play a Skillshare class on my iPad while I work. It’s usually one I’ve already watched but would like a bit of a refresher.
  • ASMR – It might sound odd, but sometimes I’ll listen to ASMR videos on YouTube while I’m either working or researching / developing ideas. I highly recommend Atmosphere and ASMRmagic, who I’ve found to be tingle city. It really depends on your triggers though. I mean, I can’t stand tapping, but I adore the sound of paper crinkling so that tends to be what I seek.

Physical Surroundings

  • My office – It needs to be tidy for me to really relax into my work. We have a large whiteboard above my computer where I list my products-in-development and social media / website plan.
  • Desk and comfy chair – I recently bought a new desk and chair. The chair is much more padded than the previous creaky, wobbly one I had, so I’m far more comfortable when sitting for long periods. If you find that after a stint at the computer your neck or shoulders hurt, it’s possible you’re either not sitting with the correct posture or your chair might not be the best fit for you. It might not seem important, but trust me, it’s far better for you down the line to ensure you sit properly and prevent unwanted aches and pains.
  • Socks! – Seriously, even in mid-summer I am often cold, my feet in particular. So I always keep a pair of fluffy socks on hand when my legs are tucked under my desk.
  • Tassimo machine and latte pods – This is my time-saving method for keeping caffeine on tap. I don’t need to go downstairs to the kitchen; instead, I simply put a latte pod in my Tassimo and away we go!
My coffee machine, a work comfort.
  • A Warm Bath – This is what I like to do at the end of the day. It’s one of my ultimate relaxation techniques, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still be creative while relaxing. I either use Radox bubble bath (Muscle Soak, Stress Relief and Feel Relaxed are my favs!) or the slightly more expensive but utterly delightful Treacle Moon “Raspberry Kiss” bubble bath. During this part of the day, I think about my To Do List for the next day, watch classes or tutorials or simply trawl images for inspiration.
  • Animals – This is going to sound a bit strange, but design isn’t all about putting out as much content as possible 24/7. We also need to focus on the things that relax and open our minds to future creativity. Our mental health is strongly linked to our productivity (I don’t believe you need to suffer to create great art!) so we need to tend to it as often as possible, especially during our downtimes when we are away from our computers/sketchbooks. Me and my fiance have a bunny called Quin. This is Quin:

He is adorable and funny and cuddly and he loves being around us (he is generally quite sociable with humans anyway). But something else he does is inspire me. When I’m feeling tired or blue, all I have to do is go spend some time with him, watch him scoot around and leap with bunny joy, and suddenly everything feels better. It’s a great way to re-centre and find happiness. And as many of us know, happiness = enjoyment of our passions = being creative. If you love animals but you don’t or can’t have pets, check out The Dodo, which is where I go for additional warm-fuzzies.

There are many other tools and items I might use for different projects, but these are the main ones that I use most often.

Don’t forget to share your own creative necessities in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

Cover image by @julie_peretiatko.

Hi, I'm Jen, an illustrator, pattern designer and font maker based in the UK. I love creating beautiful design resources that people might find useful. Two of the biggest things I strive for in my work is offering great value and excellent customer service. Feel free to get in touch!

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