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 Elana Schlenker

Elana Schlenker

Graphic designer, art director

Posted in designer, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm a graphic designer and art director. I run my own design studio (Studio Elana Schlenker) and am 1/2 of the creative partnership Out of Office (Mark Pernice is my other half). Through both studios, I'm engaged in a medium-agnostic practice through which I create books and other printed matter, interactive work, exhibition design, visual identities, and any other interesting work that comes along. I also publish a magazine called Gratuitous Type, and have initiated projects like Less Than 100, among others.

What hardware do you use?

My most essential hardware is my Rancilio Silvia M espresso machine and Nuova Simonelli Grinta espresso grinder - so crucial! Making myself a cappuccino is my first stop every morning.

My work setup is really minimal and devolved into a sort of graphic design version of a working TV on top of a broken one - on my desk I have a 2010-era 21.5" iMac and a 2017 13" MacBook Pro. I intended to turn the iMac into a display for my laptop, but I looked into it and was told they weren't compatible (?) so now it's a glorified sound system and large screen for me to test my web projects.

I have an iPhone X, which I bought when I upgraded to my MacBook - both the newest options from Apple at the time and yet they don't have compatible cords/ports. My MacBook has that stupid touchbar and honestly I've had all kinds of problems with it from day 1 so I'm pretty bitter about the whole thing!

The only thing I like about my workspace setup is my Apple Magic Mouse and my Kanto Yumi bookshelf speakers. The speakers are a hand-me-down from my husband, who has a vastly superior tech and audio setup and is always replacing his speakers. He is also (very lucky for me) a professional photographer, so when I need to document my work, he lets me use all his gear and sets up the lights for me. I don't even know what it is that I'm using and I don't care to. I do take the pictures myself though.

Around the house we also have a couple Sonos Play speakers, which I love. We intentionally bought the Play series instead of the One series because we didn't want smart speakers.

I've gotten really into gardening in the last couple years and my favorite hardware is really my three super lo-fi go-to gardening tools: a hori hori for weeding, a cheap shovel from Home Depot that I broke the tip off of but now has two points and works even better (!), and the all-time most beautiful custom trowel my business partner had designed/produced for me by JSR Knife Co for my birthday a couple years ago.

And what software?

I use Adobe Creative Cloud (mainly InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop). Preview for PDFs, I really hate Acrobat although sometimes I use that, too. I use the G Suite religiously for email, organization, and writing, but I do all my other file management on Dropbox. (Why is Google and Gmail search so good and Google Drive search so awful?) I actually work entirely off Dropbox - a legacy of when I was actively using my two computers, but it's also nice piece of mind to have everything backed up there and if I'm ever traveling or away from my desk I can still pop files over to people from my phone.

I use Notes a lot but RIP Stickies. I miss them.

Spotify for music, Chrome for web browsing, Messages for pinging Mark all day long since I can text from my computer. Slack when a client makes me. Wordpress for my own site CMS and usually for clients, too. Nothing fancy.

I also do a lot of video conferencing, and a client turned me onto Zoom. It's the only video software that works reliably for me.

What would be your dream setup?

I would love a new Mac that's not a piece of shit. I also want some AirPods, but I'm scared I'll lose them. Everyone says they're easy to keep track of, but maybe they don't know me.

I'm dying for my own Risograph. I did a residency at the Facebook Analog Research Lab where I got very closely acquainted with one and it was really incredible to be able to design and produce something so quickly.

But I'd love a new one (rather than refurb) so it's a pretty big investment.

Otherwise I have mostly domestic tech fantasies, my number one being solar roof.