EDC for a Graphic Designer

Ian D.
Provo UT
Unbeknownst to themselves, many professional artists and designers have a constant and coveted list of EDC items that they never leave home without. For many in creative roles this can be as simple as a pocket notebook and a ballpoint pen, but can develop into elaborate and curated items that dominate our pants pockets. For myself, I exist in a niche of creatives who work fairly constantly with or around the Outdoor Industry, and several of my EDC carries reflect that. I work as both a designer and Art Director, and sometimes find myself fulfilling a variety of roles, many of which can take myself outside the studio and into urban or outdoor environments. Each piece that I carry has a specific role that helps me navigate day-to-day life, and I have built up this collection over the past ten years working in creative and outdoor situations, having been a river guide and ski tech before my pivot towards graphic design.

First and foremost, if there's an item I use the most, it would be one of the several dozen Field Notes books that I keep in my back-left pants pocket. Fields Notes were birthed by design celeb and trucker hat enthusiast Aaron Draplin, a Portland based graphic designer. Draplin has a long and near mythic presence in American design, and Field Notes brand is a byproduct of his love of handy agriculture memo books. I have owned a wide variety of pocket notebooks, from Moleskin to Rhodia to everything in between. I eventually found Field Notes, and I've never looked back. There are dozens of variations, featuring different cover art and a choice of lined, unlined, grid, or star-grid watermarks. With the iconic Futura Field Notes cover, space for pertinent information, and a 5-inch ruler on the back inside, Field Notes are a must have if you find yourself jotting down on anything on the reg. I personally love the Chicago Flag series in grid.

I hate watches. They're dumb and obsolete in an era of smartphones and microwave clocks. And if I wear a watch, I'm incredibly picky of its design and function. I don't want a 10 lb. behemoth that looks like it was made in a Rambo/cyberpunk fever dream. I don't care about the location of Saturn, and I have enough regret not to be bothered by how many steps I had taken that day. So, if I wear a watch, it's so I can tell time after my iPhone dies, and that watch is a custom MGD Diver. If was gifted to me by my best friends dad, G.B., who was a hobbyist watchmaker, and all around great human. It's simple, stylish, and does a really good job at telling me what time it is at any given moment, so I'm sold. Add that on to it's waterproof nature and it has, against my better judgment of hating watches, become an everyday part of my ensemble. G.B. built this watch for me after I acted as a quasi-backpacking guide for his family for a week in the Tetons, and as a token of gratitude for making sure there were minimal bear maulings. Gifted items like these are special, especially ones that have as much time and care put into them as G.B. does with his watches, so I cherish it. As far as I know, he's no longer making watches, which is a shame, because I like this watch, and I really hate watches.

In addition to hating watches, I hate big bulky wallets, or billfolds, or whatever you store your credit cards and expired Olive Garden coupons in (honestly just call them wallets, not portfolios or billfolds or whatever. It's a wallet). So I use a small and slim double-sided wallet from Velo City, which was a SLC local shop that crafted handmade cycling bags and wallets. I bought this lil guy back when I first moved to Utah in 2014, and it fulfills the need of keeping my debit card and AIGA membership card in one place fabulously. No muss or fuss. Unfortunately, Velo City had to close its doors in 2018, but this wallet has served me well.

Before I started my full-time design career, I worked extensively in the outdoor industry, for ski resorts, as a backpacking and river guide, and for several years in a small outdoor shop selling gear and tuning skis. If you've ever worked a gear shop that sells climbing equipment, you inevitably find yourself collecting an assortment of carabiners, even if you don't climb (like me). One deliberate addition to my growing pile of carabiners was this Camp Nano wire gate, and honestly there's not much to say about it. Some people don't like having their keys clipped to their pants, others do. I like it because when I walk the rattle of my keys are reminiscent of clinking spurs, and I get that much closer to becoming John Wayne, minus the racism and homophobia. Also, I found later on that the sides of the wire gate are perfectly suited for opening bottles, so that's pretty neat. I lose stuff fairly often, and keeping my keys clipped to me at all times is an effective way of avoiding that trend. A notable piece of my keyset is a 32 GB flash drive, which has saved my ass more than once. Regardless, if you work in computers as much as I do, having a small place to keep important files or projects is handy.

So, this one isn't 100% accurate anymore, because I have moved on to carry a Spiderco Manix 2 in black G10 with a S30V blade, or my Kershaw Auto Launch 3, but this was my first foray into "nicer knives". Now, like any good Eagle Scout I’ve had a multitude of gas station pocket knives in my lifetime, and most commonly they would get lost or broken. I carried an Opinel No. 8 knife for a while, which is definitely a classy folder, but my life changed when I discovered the Blade HQ YouTube channel, and I never looked at a pocket knife the same way again. Blade HQ is a household name for people who like sharp implements, and their extensive online presence is equally matched by their impressive store, stocking thousands of different knives and tools. Their website is well built, easy to navigate, and they constantly have sales and promos for all things knives. After watching hours of videos on their YouTube channel covering every topic under the sun relating to knives, I was determined to take my first step towards becoming “a guy that has a knife”. Featured here is a Boker Kalashnikov Automat, with a left-handed configured release and deep-carry pocket clip. This is an iconic Auto knife, and a great bang for your buck, often on sale for less than $40. More importantly, it comes in a lefty variant, and while the world at large may be conspired against myself and my south-pawed comrades, at least I have this. And now, making sure a knife has ambidextrous handling is a big part of whether or not I purchase a pocket knife. Giants like Benchmade and Spiderco have made life easier with their AXIS and ball bearing lock technology, systems that should be at least attempted by others (I’m looking at you, Kershaw. Make an ambidextrous Launch series and you’ll be spared when us Lefties finally rise up and take over). I’ve since graduated to better knives, but my Boker Kalash will always have a special place in my heart.

Surprisingly, I’m fairly low maintenance when it comes to choosing my writing tools. I’ve had nicer pens, but I lose things so often that a $100 MontBlanc is just asking for trouble. I keep in rotation a variety of felt tip pens, brush pens, and mechanical pencils. I definitely prefer felt-tip to ball-point, and I discovered the Mavy Le Pen felt-tip pen back while living in Montréal. It’s small, unassuming, and writes like a champ, so it’s a winner. I have to buy these suckers in bulk because they get lost so often, but they make great pens and looks classy in a shirt pocket. The pencil featured here is a Graphgear 1000 .7, and honesty it’s bound to get lost any day now. It was given to me by a former colleague who swears by them, and it might be the nicest pencil I’ve ever owned. It has some heft to it, and fulfills its role in putting graphite on paper. What more can you ask?

Now seeing as I spent a good several hours writing this all up, one can deduce I have a lot of opinions about my EDC. But at the end of the day, these are just things, and they all can be replaced, and they will all go to the dust eventually. Regardless of what we choose to carry in our pockets or on our hips, how we use the tools at hand to navigate through this world, and ideally make it a better place, gives our EDCs meaning.

#notebooks #wallets #watches #knives #keychains #writing-instruments #bladehq #spiderco #benchmade #kershaw #everydaycarry see all

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