So you think you’re a creative, right? Nowadays that doesn’t mean that you have to walk around with a colourful paint palette, beret on your head and an easel in sight (though that would be pretty cool). Now that we’re living in the digital age, there are heaps of articles on the web about the must-have apps for creatives, the software you can’t live without and gadgets, gadgets, gadgets galore. If you’re looking for these kinds of things for your creative kit, then I’m going to disappoint you, cos I’m an old-fashioned kinda gal. Don’t get me wrong, I love my laptop, my hipster printed T-shirt, my phone and all the software on them, but I’m not quite ready to be a 100% digital space-age designer just yet…

The creative toolkit: Some unexpected things every creative should have

So, here are some of the slightly more unexpected weird and wonderful creative things that I just can’t live without and you shouldn’t either.


They’re pretty old-school, don’t seem to be going anywhere, yet they haven’t actually been around all that long. What we commonly recognise as the ‘post-it’ only came into full fruition in 1980. Never underestimate the power of the post-it. Forget Pinterest, these babies are what it was originally all about. They’re great for working in a team, they get you moving and their mobility can help you to visualise temporary ideas and organise your brain, whether just unscrambling ideas or organising a sitemap, I don’t work without a colourful stack next to me at all times.


Old Magazines 

Apart from that fact that it’s pretty cool to actually have something to touch and leaf through that won’t make your eyes go square, old magazines are full of surprises. Chop them up, throw them around, make paper planes out of them. They’re great for mood boards, textures, comparing typography, looking at trends (old and new) and layout inspiration. If they don’t serve you creatively, at least you have something to throw when your computer crashes for the fifth time, something to hide behind or a fan when those deadline beads of sweat start to roll.

Paper Catalogue

Another reason why you shouldn’t be too hasty in throwing away those old editions. If there’s nothing I like more for inspiration, it’s collecting things – objects that otherwise may have nothing in common, but that just have this one trait that brings them all together. Paper is one of them. Colours, textures, contexts, content, printed, folded, thick and thin, they all have something to express. Offline is not dead. Stand out from the crowd and get your projects noticed by all the senses.



Food picks, cotton buds and Blu-tack

What the…?! I hear you say. No joke. The Bauhaus taught us the importance of simplicity and the importance of geometry in design. If you really like your shapes, there is literally endless material on the meaning of forms and their representation in science and religion, but I’m not talking about just that. Even though everything went 3D (cinemas, printers), it can still be tricky to imagine that extra dimension in your head. If you are new to motion graphics, or just want to work out which axis you need to wiggle in After Effects, it always helps to have a little model. Cotton buds, food picks and Blu-tack can construct all kinds of simple geometric structures in a matter of minutes. Make them, hang them, look at their shadows. There’s more than meets the eye in that hexagon.


The number 8

If you’re like me and quite indecisive, a magic 8-ball could come in handy at the office, but I’m not talking about that. A wise teacher of mine once told me that 8 was my new best friend and he was right. It’s the right number to create grids for webs, magazines, posters, and presentations. It divides nicely whatever you do with it, it goes well with font sizes and it will never leave you hanging. It also gets a decent write-up in a lot of cultures and is associated with infinity. 8 is great.


A pack of cards

Sometimes when you’ve got deadlines and you’re stuck on a project, it’s really hard to think about anything else. But design is often about telling a story, right? It may sound wacky, but I recommend having a deck of cards with random pictures on them. They can be anything from Mexican lottery cards, story telling cards, or even random nouns that you stick on an old pack yourself. Flick through them, combine things randomly and watch how they make your brain tick. If all else fails, they’re quite handy for a light drinking game after work.



We live in two very distinct types of universe, yet overlapping worlds known as the online and the offline. It’s really hard to imagine living without either of them and yet whilst they are often in conflict, a little balance between the two can be heaven-sent for a creative. Don’t overlook the old-school, all good things come back around and it might just be you who puts a new spin on things.

Are you a creative? What is the thing that you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch with us via any of our social media outlets. For everything else awesome, keep reading the Printsome Blog.

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Printsome is a garment printing agency offering printed t-shirts in Bristol,  custom hoodies in Sunderland, and much more everywhere else in between. For a quick quote, some advice on personalised jumpers or simply a nice chat about creativity, get in touch!


Hayley's journey began in the Design Department, where she left her stamp all over the Printsome blog -- an absolute wizard with formats, infographics, and illustrations! From there she branched out into proving her writing skills were also top-notch. She writes freelance about printing for the blog. Her creativity is versatile, her drive, insatiable. She is also Communication Coordinator at MOB (Makers of BCN), whilst co-writing Audiovisual City Magazine.

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