My Recommended Business Resources, Tools & Supplies

~ CARRIE RECOMMENDS ~

FAVOURITE BIZ RESOURCES & TOOLS

An organized list of my favorite creative tools and resources that I use, trust & recommend to successfully run my Digital Art Focused Creative Business as well as my journey to craft and create a variety of mixed media projects using digital art!

This list includes hardware & software to enhance your creative skills, use my digital graphics, run a website (something I am just getting the hang of myself) or run digital art downloads business on Etsy, like mine.

If there is anything that I am missing and you have questions, let me know and I may be able to add it to this list!

DISCLAIMER: This Post Contains Affiliate Links – If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  I ONLY recommend products and services that I personally use and/OR find value in! <3  Read my full disclosure & policies here

Table of Contents



Digital art Making supplies



Art Journals & Mixed Media



Craft Making



Office Tools & Supplies



MY Business & Blogging Tools



Website Tools & Hosting



Fonts



Stock Photos & Graphics

DIGITAL ART AND FILE EXPORT

The Tools, Software and Supplies I personally use to draw and make my digital art -Clip Art, Coloring Pages, SVG Files, Illustrations & More!  These tools are the meat and potatoes of my online business that i have been using for years so,  keep in mind that many of these tools are older, thankfully, many have proved to be great investments.

There are newer versions of most of these items, and i will try to link to those ones that I have my eye on come upgrade time too, but I will always let you know if I don't personally use it!   

The Hardware

Wacom Cintiq 21UX

The Cintiq 21UX is a beast of a machine!! It is big, bulky and seemingly always in the way.  In 2012 I caught an end of year model before the time of an ergonomic extension arm… but i love her, she is my baby and I am thankful that she still functions.  I had just gotten a contract that would require me to work 18 hour days for a month, it was a welcome sacrifice that earned me this investment that has now become essential to my workflow and actually the reason why I no longer suffer from severe carpal tunnel!   If you like to draw digitally and enjoy the functionality of using your desktop applications vs the iPad transfer, the Cintiq is a great investment.  

I have watched review videos of the newer models and I'll be honest, I was drooling over the Wacom Cintiq 22 and it's much slimmer design, but will likely never get a new one, so let's hope my big chunky girl lasts forever!  

Wacom Intuos

I am a long-time fan of the Wacom Intous Drawing Tablet, I STARTED with an Intuos way back in 2010 and If my Cintiq (see above) God forbid dies, I will cry a good long cry and then likely go back to drawing off screen again using an Intuos tablet.  

I really do wonder if I kept that skill of hand-eye coordination that I built up from the years that I used this wonderful tool!  It is a very affordable option for just starting out, just know, it takes some time and patience to figure out the learning curve and train your brain to draw without looking at your hands.

Apple Ipad Pro

My Ipad Pro is a fairly new addition to my processes, while I enjoy creating on my Ipad, I prefer my Cintiq.  I think it is because of how i have adapted and got comfortable drawing. 

My Ipad integrates perfectly with my PC – I'm sure the functionality of file-sharing would be improved if I did use a mac but I have always used a PC and am fortunate to have a PC building, free technical support husband to help me with upgrading or any of the rare issues I run into!  

The Software

Adobe Creative Cloud

I started with Photoshop 6.0!  Photoshop has come a long way.   

I now am a subscriber to the cloud and while that monthly payment stings a little every month, especially with the conversion to Canadian Dollars, I still believe supporting the advancement of the technology that innovates new and powerful ways for creatives to express themselves is worth the pain of paying that subscription fee.

Illustrator

Illustrator is my favourite of all the software the creative cloud suite has to offer.

Photoshop

I use photoshop for adding details to my vector art, sketching and exporting.

Fresco

I don't currently use this in my workflow, but I enjoy playing in this app, it has a lot of potential, especially with the fluid movement of the watercolour paint.  Very fun app to express your art digitally.  

I really appreciate the fact that you can download and use all of your favourite Photoshop brushes into this application!  

Requirements:  Ipad

ProCreate

Procreate is a great Ipad app, in fact, I do consider it one of the best, most affordable options.  I do prefer it over the Fresco app when I am making digital art, BUT I appreciate the integration between Adobe Fresco and the Creative Cloud so I stick with that.  

Requirements:  Ipad

Astute Graphics – Illustrator Plug In

I have been a fan of Astute Graphics for several years!  They plug-ins they provide make illustrator more enjoyable to use organically!  They are now on a yearly subscription model so, you can have the opportunity to give them all a try, but the one i use the most is the vectorfirstaid!   Not only can you use this handy little plug-in to clean up unnecessary points that make cutting files cut faster and smoother, but you can also break up text so letters can be more easily manipulated.   

Requirements: Illustrator

Fontself

While I haven't made any fonts to sell YET, using the Fontself photoshop or illustrator extension, it has been a plan of mine for a long time!  I have owned it for two years and made a few color SVG fonts from my digital alphabets for my own personal use using the plug-in and I have to say, with all of the constant improvements that they are making, updates for creating color bitmap fonts, kerning adjustments and even alternates and ligatures without charging for upgrades, overall I am quite impressed with what i have made using it so far!   

Requirements: Photoshop or Illustrator


Art Journals & Mixed Media

Art Journaling has transformed the way I make my personal art and actually, taught me some much needed lessons about being too hard on myself!   The process of making art, wether it be sketches, paper collage or a combination of multiple supplies and mediums -AKA: Mixed Media…  I believe there are necessary lessons to learn.   

Not only that but the process can be incredibly healing and lead you to alternate creative thought processes that you didn't beleive you had within.  Even if you are only a digital artist or a complete beginner, If you haven't tried your hand at creating within an art journal book, it's time to give it a go!  

THE JOURNALS

THE STICKY STUFF

White Glue

Tacky Glue has always been my go-to craft glue.  Tacky Glue dries clear, is the right consistency, not too drippy and dries quicker than others I have tried. 

Adhesive Tape

PAINT

Watercolor

Acrylic

PENCILS


Craft Making

I don't know what it is about art and craft supplies but having a variety in my collection makes me happy.  Sometimes, they overwhelm because i don't know what to use next, but other I want more of everything!!  

SILHOUETTE CAMEO

Ill be completely honest here…  what i purchased the silhouette for does not work to my expectations and I have been a bit disappointed.  I have went over all of the tips and tricks for the print and cut feature and i still have issues. So much waste with expensive materials as well.  I will be revisiting it again with some modifications in mind, but i am kicking myself not getting a cricut machine instead but it may just be lust over something i am not sure would work the same way either.  LOL


Office Tools & Supplies

The handy office tools I find essential for running my business!  

Hardware

SCANNER

I have had my scanner, the CanoScan 8800F for at least 8 years.   The reason i chose this scanner was for the high-luminance white led lamps and depth resolution.  At the time, it was the best to serve my needs and still does great quality scans of my 

A scanner has become almost unnecessary these days for me and my business as i can now ‘can' using the high-resolution camera on my phone with one exception, I get a much better result if I want to digitize a line drawing direct to vector without having to do a complete redraw using the scanner.   Having a higher resolution image, with less shadows is especially useful for colouring pages as it significantly cuts the processing time down if you find yourself wanting to draw on a piece of paper vs tracing over an image of your sketch on the iPad or Cintiq.   

I created this entire coloring book using the CanoScan scan + illustrator live tracing method!   

PRINTER

My printer is a Canon G3200.   It has an ink reservoir that can be easily refilled.  I haven't used it quite long enough to give a thorough review, but so far, I am loving the ability to see how full my ink reservoir is and it feeds heavyweight cardstock through the rollers like a champ, so that is a huge deal!  


My Art Business & Blogging Tools

While creatives like myself would like to draw, paint and create all day, unfortunately, we have to fit in that not-so-fun stuff once in a while as well.  Bummer!  Here is a list of the tools i personally use to manage my online business and a little bit about why I have chosen each one and what they are best for.

MICROSOFT OFFICE 365

I had to have these tools to manage my business & productivity.   I had a choice between Microsoft and G-Suite, while both were relatively the same price-wise,  I really enjoy the suite of Microsoft Desktop applications, so that i what i chose.  Below are the 365 software applications I use and a little bit about why they are important for the management of my creative business.

OneNote

OneNote is where i store my business receipts, course notes, learning-related materials & contracts. I also used to keep my brainstorms there until I discovered Microsoft Whiteboard!  

WhiteBoard

If you are a creative business person and have not used Microsoft whiteboard to brainstorm your projects, you are missing out on a very powerful tool! 

I use whiteboard for creating visual moodboards for reference & color inspiration. I really enjoy the fact that i can create a white board for each project and even share it with a creative project collaborator.

Office 365 subscription is neccessary for use of microsoft whiteboard, but if you have one already, this handy app is worth exploring to keep your visial creative ideas organized.   I had a subscription and didn't even know it existed.   

Outlook

Within Outlook Email, I am able to set up and pull from multiple email accounts.   This means this is my one stop for all of my various personal and business emails but they are all kept separate from each-other.   

AIRTABLE

I use airtable for creating spreadsheets and databases.  I do already have excel but i really enjoy and appreciate as a visual person, the colour coding within airtable, it just makes things easier to navigate.   


Website Tools, Plugins & Hosting

Website building is something that i have dabbled with for many years, but this year, i have taken more courses and learned more about websites than my creative brain could have ever imagined.  I am actually enjoying the process of building my site the way i want it and learning along the way.    

WEB HOSTING

I have had several different website hosts over the years for various websites, but i feel like siteground has surpassed my expectations.  The help section is extensive, the package site speed surpassed my expectations so far for the price.  I am quite pleased at hte moment!

WORDPRESS

I installed Stand a Stand-alone WordPress install on my Site Ground hosting package to use as the structure of my website. 

WordPress was easy to install with Siteground, the online help is extensive and after you get past the initial overwhelm, it has been quite enjoyable to fiddle around and get everything customized how I like it.  Just make sure that you are not in a rush if you are a beginner.  It definitely isn't a few clicks and done, it takes some troubleshooting, reading and learning but, it's worth it.   

Genesis Framework

The Genesis Framework is what i use here.  It is a widely recommended, search-engine-optimized foundation for your WordPress blog.   It was easy to install and made it possible to add a Restored 316 child theme.

Restored 316 | Genesis Child Themes

When you install the Genesis framework onto your wordpress blog, you will need a child theme that works along well with it.  That is where the child themes from Restored 316 come in.  Now, i haven't used any other child themes from anyone else, but i can't say, my experience with a Restored 316 theme was excellent!  There are complete set-up instructions for each theme provided when you purchase making them manageable for a tech- savvy, blogging newbie like myself! 

Elementor Page Builder Pro (& FREE)

After much research and debate, i decided to add the Elementor page builder pro to my blog building arsenal.  The claim of elementor page builder is that you will get enhanced design ability + clean code and so far, after watching many of the video tutorials that they offer on their youtube page, i feel confidant that this was a good investment for making Inspirational Zest look how i want it!


Fonts

When you use fonts for commercial use, it is incredibly important to make sure you purchase or download from an legit font seller.  There are so many font sites out there that sell or give away unauthorized fonts.  Below I will share my favourite sources to purchase and download fonts.  As with anything you will be using to create a product to sell, please read the terms of use and make sure you have the appropriate license, just because a font is free, doesn't mean you can use it to make a commercial product.  

FONT MANAGEMENT

PC Based Font management can be complicated.  A font manager allows you to preview and manage both installed and uninstalled fonts on your system as well as temporarily installing them based on the types of projects you are working on.  Lesson was learned, many years ago, having too many fonts installed all at once does nothing but cause software slow-downs and i believe other issues with they get corrupt!  Keep them in a folder and use a font management tool to only install what you want, when you want to use it with a couple of clicks.   

Font management software is quite expensive, but I have found it to be quite essential when looking for the perfect font for a project.  After deliberating I chose FontExpert 2016 by Proxima software.   There is a newer version out right now, but I haven't felt the need to upgrade to the latest version.  I do feel like this purchase was a great value for my money and it has been very easy to use and set-up!

COMMERCIAL USE PAID FONTS

Creative Market

Powered by Creative Market

Here is my personal creative market font wish list! A collection of some fonts I already personally own & love & some that i have my font loving eyeballs on and hope to own in the future.  I love to collect & have to restrain myself sometimes!  

I really appreciate Creative Market Licensing when it comes to fonts, you know what you can and cannot do when you read the font license terms + extended licensing options are available!  I do have three favourite font authors that i know when I purchase, the kerning and quality is top notch and that is Sam Parrett of Set Sail Studios & Nicky Laatz

MyFonts

My Fonts offers a HUGE selection of professional fonts to purchase and drool over!      

FREE FONT DOWNLOADS

Font Squirrel

Font Squirrel is a great resource for FREE, hand-picked, high-quality, commercial-use fonts.  They actually research them and make sure to link to the authors page.   There is a nice selection here, but to access some of the downloads, you have to visit the creators sites. 

DaFont

Dafont has a great selection of fonts that can be sorted as freeware, shareware, demos or public domain!  Take a look at the licenses of each provider prior to use!  This can get a bit complicated if you want to use them commercially, but great for beginners who don't want to put out a lot of investment purchasing a variety of fonts.  This is how i got started, but now the time invested in finding free fonts is better spent on designing & making art!

Behance

Behance is a great place to find original fonts!   These fonts are shared by the creators and often link to their websites. 

Adobe Fonts

Adobe partnered with some incredibly type foundries to bring us thousands of high-quality fonts, so when you have a creative cloud membership, don't forget to take advantage of all of the free adobe fonts that you can download straight to your applications from Adobe Fonts!  

They are beautifully organized into groups that work well together, taking some of the guess work out of it which is especially useful for beginners!  

Adobe covers all of the licensing for personal & commercial use, so, these guys are good to go for commercial purposes if you want to use them within your business! 

Required: Creative Cloud Membership  

Creative Market

Creative Market offers a selection of new free design goods EVERY MONDAY!!!  This includes often some of the most amazing fonts, the sellers here are very generous.  Make sure you check back every Monday!   


Stock Photos & Graphics

Stock Photos and commercial use Clip Art / digital graphics / vector stock are huge time savers!   Not everyone can be good at everything, you may be a great writer or have a great digital product but lack the ability to get out and get that good photo of a mountain without travelling half-way around the world.   A good stock photo can be worth everything to get the clicks you need for your blog, packaging or digital products.   The visual first impressions are almost always the first thing that drives someone to click and take a deeper look so Don't skimp on the stock photos or quality graphics!

Digital Graphics & Illustrations

Carrie Stephens Art

Of course i am going to list my own shops here first! haha I draw most of my own graphics that are used on the blog and within my promotions.  Most of it is pulled from my digital art sets, because why spend all the time and effort creating from scratch when i can just use an image to create a mask and clip any of the digital papers to make something that looks visually appealing!

You can find MY high-quality clipart in my shop at Creative Market (Vector), Etsy (PNG) or if you are an educator, at Teachers Pay Teachers (special licensing for education)

Creative Market

Yes, of course, I am going to recommend Creative Market here once again under this new category!!  I believe that the independent creative sellers here offer quality items and if you are not satisfied, they offer excellent customer support in my experience.  You can find much of what you will need, including extended licensing options!   

Powered by Creative Market

Product & Design Mock-Ups

You can also find a great selection of easy to use product mock-ups here.  Here is a collection I made of some of the favourites that I own + some that are on my personal wish-list! 

Make sure, if you purchase any of these mock-ups though that you look at the software requirements, photoshop is required to use anything with a PSD extension!   


And there you have it, an itemized list of my peronal favorite creative resources that i use to create my art and manage my creative business on a daily basis.  If there is something that i left out or you have questions, feel free to shoot me an email!   

DISCLAIMER: This Post Contains Affiliate Links – If you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  I ONLY recommend products and services that I personally use and/OR find value in! <3  Read my full disclosure & policies here

I hope to have answered some of your questions!  If you have any more, contact me!

Carrie

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