Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Chris Onstad
Image by Chris Onstad.

Chris Onstad

Cartoonist (Achewood), writer

Posted in cartoonist, windows, writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Chris Onstad, and since 2001 I've created work under the masthead of Achewood. Lately, my life in comics has branched out into food and travel writing, and prose of other milieu, so I freelance for a variety of major food and lifestyle magazines. Just trying to keep myself interested in producing good content for people, whether it be comics, satire, prose, or nonfiction with a satirical underpinning.

What hardware do you use?

For Achewood and illustration work, I use an old Windows Vista desktop tower with like a 7" x 10" Wacom tablet and optical mouse that has a laser beam inside; I think the rig was like $400 at Best Buy five or six years ago. (I stopped knowing or caring what processor speeds meant after like Pentium III.) For my daily writing I either compose on an old HP laptop that is dying due to a fucking dog knocking it over, or, more commonly these days, on my smartphone, with one finger. I just switched from an Android to an iPhone though, which sucks, because text input without Swype is like trying to run the hundred-meter dash in polio braces. I wish Apple would get their text input up to speed; if I can swype at the same rate I type, which is nearly the rate of thought, then backing down from that is pretty crippling. The input medium forms the message, particularly in this case, which ain't cool. It ain't cool at all.

I think my screen is 20" or something like that, a "Westinghouse" or something? The cheap one where if I edit photos on it, real photo editors look at them and go, "why is this photo entirely dark green and inverse-solarized."

And what software?

I draw everything in Adobe Illustrator 9 (I just do simple vector line art, so there has never been a compelling reason to re-learn CS or whatever, and now it would probably be like learning an entirely new program, plus cost money, which isn't a main thing I'm into). From there I "save for the web" using some free bundled version of Photoshop, like Elements or something. Anyhow, I make GIFs out of EPSs, so my workstation probably looks much the same as it did in 2001, only back then I drew everything with one of those rolly-bally mice that kept getting gummed up with my unctuous, sloughed Spanish dander and the last vestiges of my hairstyle.

What would be your dream setup?

I can do whatever I want with those two forms of input and a keyboard. Mouse for sharper lines, tablet for free-form lines, voila. I guess I could get a smaller monitor, but this one is paid for. I might like to add a USB panini press at some point, or some kind of small toaster oven, perhaps the size of a perfect plate of nachos, for cooking waffles in. A toasted waffle with room-temperature cream cheese and Oregon blueberry jam is not unlike a small, personal cheesecake.