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The graphic designer's holiday gift guide

Robert Palmer

From tablets to type, finding the right gift for the choosy graphics expert in your life can be frustrating. Here are plenty of ideas at a variety of price points that should make any designer merry and joyful.

Graphics Tablets
For any designer, a graphics tablet is a great way to illustrate, or just precisely control your mouse. I started using one about eight years ago to cope with RSI, and I've never looked back. Wacom offers the Graphire Wireless 6" x 8" tablet that connects to your Mac via Bluetooth. (It's not entirely wireless, however: you have to plug it in to charge it.) You can use it up to 30 feet away. If Bluetooth isn't your thing, or charging your tablet every night doesn't sound like fun, the Intuos 3 USB tablet is available in a variety of sizes, including 6" x 8". The USB version also offers more dynamic pressure sensitivity, touch strips, accessories, and a five-button mouse.

SlimKey v2
Keeping your desk tidy is a constant challenge for the designer. Designers tend to fall into three categories when organizing their desks: the piler, the spreader, and whatever. In any case, keeping your monitor up and away from the mess is sometimes helpful (or, it gives you more room to spread stuff into). The SlimKey v2 raises your iMac or Cinema Display with a spiffy ribbon of aluminum designed to match your hardware. Plus, it features four powered USB 2.0 ports: very handy if you have an iMac and a lot of peripherals.

Mimobot Designer USB Flash Drives
And here you thought flash drives were boring. Mimobot offers a whole range of characters, from Star Wars to the Happy Tree Friends, and from artists like Gary Baseman and Friends with You. They're available in capacities ranging from 1GB to 8GB, and are an adorable way to carry your files around. Guaranteed to get comments in otherwise boring meetings.

Helvetica Notebook
Ah, Helvetica. The most perfect font ever created. Love it or hate it, this two-sided notebook has you covered: it features a friendly quote on one side, and reveals its darker intent on the other. Ruled throughout with additional quotes in unobtrusive 3 pt. type. Favor one side or work from both, toward the middle. A center divider keeps the peace. 192 pages, 6 3/4" x 8 1/2".

Helvetica: A Documentary Film by Gary Hustwit
Speaking of Helvetica, if the graphic designer in your life didn't get this last year, then for shame. Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type.

The FAQ Mousepad
From House Industries: Did you ever notice that when you plug a new mouse into a Windows machine it gives you this cryptic message that says "New human interface device detected." This seems like a really complicated way to say "Hey, you just plugged in a new mouse," which is why House Industries is a Macintosh shop. But in the interest of serving all users of pointing apparatus, this humaninterfacedevicepad fully cross-platform compatible. Don't buy one if you're already purchasing lots of other stuff because Lou will probably comp you like you're a high roller in Vegas.

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