Disclaimer: The Amazon links in this article are affiliate links. That means that if you purchase a product through Amazon, I’ll get a small portion of the proceeds to help fund more content to help designers improve their skills. Prices are subject to change and based on available data at time of publishing.
Are you shopping for a designer in your life? It can be tricky to find meaningful gifts that will be useful and intriguing to design folk. So, I put together ten (or more…) great gift ideas between $7–50 that are useful, unusual, and fun for designers in all industries.
These are gifts that I’ve come to love and appreciate. To be clear, I’ve spent my own money on these, or they’ve been a personal gift from someone in my life (not by the creator). None of the items below have been sponsored or requested to be in this write-up. These are genuinely wonderful items that my design sensibilities have come to love.
The brand is by Micah Ellis from California in the USA. The name comes from a quote by C.S. Lewis in The Last Battle and inspires an outdoor adventure. The graphics are printed on high-quality tees that feel great to wear.
Grab this shirt or other Further Up products.
Every designer should be sketching. It’s one of the fastest and cheapest ways of exploring ideas and discovering ways of solving those gnarly design problems. Aaron Draplin from Portland, Oregon, USA started field notes to support that design need. These are sturdy little notebooks that designers can drop in their pocket and be ready to explore when that breakthrough idea hits. They are 3.5" x 5.5" in size, and come in a huge variety of covers and paper styles.
Check out the Field Notes shop on Amazon
The Simple Bits and Advencher (not a typo) brand is by Dan Cederholm in Massachusetts, USA. His shop sells a variety of products like patches, pins, mugs, tees, pencils, and more. My favorite product is the Advencher hat. It’s by far the most comfortable hat I’ve owned in years. Dan’s personal touch to every order makes you feel like a million bucks for buying his products. Check out this hat, and the other genuinely useful products available through his online store.
Check out the Advencher Hat and other SimpleBits products.
Jeff Sheldon from Downingtown, Pennsylvania, USA has been on my short-list for quality products for a few years now. Each of his product are highly refined and provide a minimalistic aesthetic that is sure to satisfy the design-minded. Not only that, but Jeff uses his products as a way of investing in communities world-wide. One of my favorite things from his store has been his line of shirts that feature original art on superior fabric that feel great to wear. Check out these shirts, and all the other gear from Ugmonk.
Check out these shirts, and all the other gear from Ugmonk.
A few years ago, there was a famous NASA photo of the entire world at night, taken from the International Space Station. That photo inspired Andrew Althouse from Dayton, Ohio, USA to produce this incredibly detailed print of the world at night. This 36″ x 24″ poster features glow-in-the-dark ink printed on 100lb black licorice French Paper. Andrew hand-illustrated this excellent piece from scratch, bringing the world at night into your home.
These mechanical drafting pencils have been some of the best drawing utensils I’ve bought. They are sturdy, well-balanced, and feel great in your hand while you draw. This pencil features 0.7mm lead fed through a metal grip. They provide a trusty drawing experience when you’re quickly exploring new ideas. These mid-range drafting pencils will be a staple for the designer in your life.
These pens are seriously rugged. I’ve had a pen like this for years and it’s held up well. I carry it around with me every day, along with my pocket knife. These CNC Machined 6061 T6 Aluminum pens come pre-loaded with a refillable ink cartridge that performs well over time. This lightweight pen is equipped with an emergency whistle, a glass-breaking tip, and a fire-starter. So, this pen won’t just help you explore new ideas, but it will be a handy device for the outdoors designer you know and love.
Keeping a pencil or pen with your notebook is a no-brainer, but for some reason, it’s easy to lose one or the other. That’s where the Quiver comes in. This sturdy leather strap hugs the cover of your notebook, book, or whatever you may have and holds your writing utensil securely in place. They offer them in a variety of sizes and leather colors.
Just like the notebook, this desktop paper holder by Ikea is a fantastic way to explore big ideas quickly. When you pair the paper holder with the roll of paper, you will be equipped with 98 linear feet of raw canvas to express the latest ideas you’re thinking through. It’s a great place to grab pencils, pens, markers, and other writing utensils to collaborate together. It’s liberating experience to crank through a bunch of designerly thinking on a tactile medium.
Many designers have iPads (and other tablets) to draw or take notes in programs like Penultimate, Procreate, Bamboo Paper, Notes, Adobe Fresco, Affinity Designer, Autodesk Sketchbook, and more. The drawing experience is pretty great on many of these devices, but the smooth screen is often too slippery. Paperlike solves that ‘smooth drawing’ experience by adding a protective layer on your screen that transforms that smooth surface into a more paper like experience (see what I did there? 😂). It’s a more natural feel and inspires confidence by bringing back that natural feeling we’ve been trained to love. Paperlike comes in a variety of sizes to fit different devices. Each order comes with two screen protectors just in case one get’s messed up or it gets scratched over time.
This unique timekeeper adds visual and kinetic interest to the clock experience. This retro-style clock flips over every minute to reveal the current time. It's a fun conversation piece to keep in the background of your video conferences, or just as a throw-back for inspiration. It's available in a variety of finishes like silver, white and black.
Check out some of my own products created specifically for designers:
Designers help move problems to solutions by moving from chaos to clarity.
Ideas lead to more ideas, and there's no better way to explore them than sketching.
What does it mean to work remotely? It's different for everyone!