If you're just starting out as a graphic designer, what tools are essential? If we're talking ABSOLUTELY necessary, it really comes down to a computer and some key software. As your experience and budget grow, your "necessary" tools can be expanded to a large software collection, an extensive library of design books, a high-end computer and additional hardware such as a graphics tablet.
- A Computer: A computer is perhaps the most expensive, and important, purchase for graphic design. After all, it is the tool you will use for every project, and the power and performance of your computer directly affects your efficiency. One of the main decisions is choosing between a Mac and a PC. If budget allows, I am always quick to recommend an iMac, as it is a powerful system with a quality built-in display that costs significantly less than a Mac Pro.
- Software: Once you have a computer, it's time to fill it up with some graphics software. All the latest high-end packages aren't necessary right away, but a selection of software from the Adobe Creative Suite is a good start.
- Graphic Design Books: I love to be surrounded by design books. Some are collections of work by designers that are great for inspiration. Others, such as the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook, help with the business side of design.