Phil Coffman’s Sweet Mac Setup



Who are you, what do you do, and etc…?

My name is Phil Coffman and I am an Art Director at Springbox, an interactive marketing agency in Austin, TX. In addition to my day job I write about whatever inspires me at my personal site philcoffman.com and take the occasional photo. I’m also currently developing a new site called Method & Craft that will focus on the creative mind and beauty found within each pixel. You can follow @methodandcraft for the latest on its progress and plans for launch. I’m married to my beautiful wife Cynthia and have a 2yr old son, Ethan.

What is your current setup?

Phil's Desk

Phil's Desk

Phil's Desk

At work I use a Mac Pro with 5GB of RAM and dual-monitor setup comprised of a 23″ Cinema Display and 20″ Dell something. The Cinema Display is my main screen where I run Photoshop, Illustrator, and Safari. The Dell is dedicated to email, Adium, Tweetie, and Bowtie, my iTunes controller. A few months back I started using a Wacom Intuos 4 Medium tablet and have never looked back. I forced myself to use it for a week solid and now use the pen for everything from Photoshop to browsing the web.

Listening to music while I work is vital to my productivity. I have a pair of Sony MDR-V300s that, despite their long cord which gets tangled around my chair, provide adequate audio clarity and help block outside noise when I need to focus.

At home I use a 15″ MacBook Pro (pre-unibody model) with 2GB of RAM, which is not nearly enough. Sometimes I bring my Intuos home if I need it’s flexibility on a project, but otherwise I use an old Dell optical mouse.

At the office we work off servers that are backed up daily. At home I use Time Machine to back-up to an external FW hard drive. That entire setup is then mirrored online using Crashplan.

Why this rig?

I use a Mac Pro at work because I’m often dealing with heavy Photoshop files and need the horsepower. The 5GB of RAM helps keep everything running quickly. The dual-monitor setup is a must for me as I prefer to work fullscreen in Photoshop and want as much screen real-estate as possible. While I use the 2nd monitor mostly for secondary applications like IM, email, etc., I often use it to display documents related to what I’m working on such as a copy deck or IA.

The Intuos has dramatically changed how I interact with Photoshop. My design style lays heavy on the fine details, and the fluidity that a pen provides over a mouse is simply unmatched. Being able to add the element of “pressure” has come in handy more times than I can count. On the very rare occasion I’ll use the Wacom mouse to get uniformity with the Photoshop brush tool, but most of the time it just sits there collecting dust.

I’m very picky when it comes to which wallpaper I use on my machines. At home I sometimes don’t have as much of a say :), but at work I use a dark wood panelling photo. Having a dark, B&W image alleviates distractions and makes it easy to find things on my desktop, although I try to keep things orderly as much as possible.

What software do you use and for what do you use it?

  • Adobe Photoshop: all of my comps and design work including wireframes
  • Adobe Illustrator: logo work or the occasional vector asset
  • Safari: web browsing
  • Tweetie: to stay in the loop
  • Adium: to connect with my coworkers and friends with various IM accounts
  • iTunes: music
  • Bowtie: to control iTunes via the keyboard
  • Entourage: email
  • Quicksilver: custom keyboard triggers for screen captures and quick launch of apps
  • Cyberduck: FTP (although I have Transmit at home and will probably transition at work as well)
  • Dropbox: for file sharing between home and work

Do you have any other gadgets?

I use my 16GB iPhone 4 all day. I commute to work via lightrail and use that time to listen to podcasts, read, check my RSS feeds & twitter, and play games like Angry Birds and Words With Friends. The evolution of the iPhone 4 from the 3GS is amazing. I love the retina display, and the 5MP camera is just remarkable. When not taking photos with my iPhone I use a Nikon D80 paired with a 50mm 1.8 and 28mm 2.8.

How would your ideal setup look and function?

I’m happy with my work setup, so my ideal setup pertains to home. I don’t take my MacBook Pro anywhere to get work done, so ideally I’d upgrade to an i5 27″ iMac so I could take advantage of the larger screen, horsepower, RAM, and storage. I’d also pick up an Intuos to go with the iMac since I’ve grown so accustomed to using a pen over a mouse.

More Sweet Setups

Phil’s setup is just one in a series of sweet Mac Setups.