There is a sort of special, intangible, some might even say magical connection between a person who makes stuff, and the tools they use to make said stuff. I imagine the craftsperson who turns wood will have their lathe setup just how they like it. The slightest change in the way that it feels will throw them off course, and some disappointing results end up tossed on the fire. Well, creative types have *always loved Macs.
(*always = ever since designers started to rely on computers to make their designs)
From the first beeping boxes that appeared in college design departments, to the latest slick iMacs that you could knock out your first album on, the Apple brand, and especially Macintosh hardware seem to have been intrinsic to the digital creative process. I’m writing this blog post on a Mac. Is it making the words flow any easier? Not sure.
Like most designers of my vintage, I set my first piece of type electronically in college, on a cute, little Macintosh Plus, then began my career a few years later using the earliest incarnation of the ‘Power Mac.’ I have a soft spot for Macs it’s true, but these days I count myself among the group of designers who are platform/device/OS agnostic.
Ironically perhaps, this might be a good time to quote Steve Jobs himself:
Of course, that’s a little unfair, I’m taking the quote out of its original context and plonking it here for effect. I should mention that what was also referred to in that interview were the themes of technology empowering people, and of the driving goal of Jobs and Apple to build great tools. And for a long long time they did build the best tools.
Or rather they built the tools that from a design and creative point of view were the best. They looked great, felt great, and they just plain worked, with the minimum of fuss and unhelpful error messages. Those slightly ugly PCs and their Microsoft systems were forever playing catch up in the touchy-feely user experience stakes.
But then, they didn’t really need to.
There has long been a veritable army of faithful techie patrons devoted to using PCs for all their computing tasks, and who would adopt the most pained of expressions at the thought of anyone using an Apple computer.
I remember the shine being fairly quickly wiped off in my first junior design job with a cd-rom publisher when I entered the dark environs of the software developers cave. There the very mention of a Mac would provoke hissing and spitting. I may exaggerate, but it was a while ago.
In my next design gig, I had no choice but to embrace the PC. It was a tech-focused company based in Reading, not a shiny design studio in Soho. But, you know what, I’m glad. The change of kit helped me to realise that ‘tools are just tools’ as Steve Jobs put it so succinctly.
Skills, instincts and ideas are a part of you, not the tool your using. Whether you hit a CMD key or a CTRL key, if you right click or not, regardless of your desktop styles, Finders or File Explorers. None of that really matters unless you choose to make it matter. That said, there is nothing more frustrating than being held back by a sluggish kit, but that could be the case with either OS.
I’ve switched between platforms a few times now, and the only significant annoyance about my most recent shift from Mac to PC was the realisation that the fantastic Sketch app wasn’t available on Windows. There are always alternatives though. In digital design terms, I feel there is no clear evidence that either platform is better, and the old Mac vs PC debate has had its day.
I want to continue to learn new tools and applications that help me to do my job, but not have the quality or style of the work be dictated by them.
- Mark, @wearegecko!