What’s In My Bag: Ben Oldham, Graphic Designer

What’s in my bag? As it happens, a lot more than I thought…A little goes a long way.


– Biro
– Pencil
– Sharpie
– Keys Set 1 – Home/Car
– Keys Set 2 – Work
– Banana
– Wallet
– iPhone 5 and Cable
– Headphones
– General Notebook
– Dot Grid Mini
– Sony RX100 Camera

When I was told it was my turn to write the third in the ado “What’s In My Bag” series my first thought was “****, but there isn’t really anything in it!”. It wasn’t until after I’d photographed it all for this post and made an inventory list I realised I had a 12 point strong list, and the best thing, I actually use all of it at least once a day…Apart from the Banana, they’re generally a one off once you’ve eaten them.

It’s probably best to start with the obvious, self-explanatory stuff and get it out of the way. The trusty Bic biro, of which I’ve bought loads of 24 packs in the past and never made it through the full ink supply of even one pen. An HB pencil that only stays sharp through sheer will power, despite Scott and me having the aptly named “Stationery Village” draw next to us in the studio, it’s full of novelty sticky notes and picture frame hooks…(**NEW BLOG IDEA STEVE: What’s In My Draw**). Then there is the customary sharpie to round off my stationery utensils. The rest of the standard bag contents stuff includes a couple of sets of keys (personal and work), a Banana, chosen snack on the day I took the pictures and my wallet which unfortunately doesn’t seem to have the same knack of being fuller than expected as my bag does.

Most used item in my bag? My iPhone 5. Now there’s an app for everything, I don’t really need much else outside of work to keep my mind busy, I don’t have a tablet or a portable computer so on the whole my phone is a little trooper. I love Vine, am partial to a Snapchat and I do a heck of a lot of Instagramming. Buzzfeed and Sky Sports are on there too and I use MyFitnessPal on a semi-regular basis. There’s also the obvious social network stuff – Facebook, Twitter and then Pinterest and Behance which I can use for research or some creative inspiration whilst I’m on the go. Then of course there is what the phone is actually supposed to be used for, texting and calling which is probably pretty low on the functions it has to perform.


I’ve gone through a couple of iPhones as the family phone rotation system has gone round so we’ve been afforded a few extra Apple Lightening Cables. I’ve got one at home and one in my bag which means I can charge my phone pretty much anywhere; in the car, on my work iMac and even in the gym. It also means I can access my own music wherever I am at that time. Obviously, you can’t have an iPhone without your headphones, you never know when you might need to block out the background noise, get in the zone and give yourself a soundtrack. My Sony bad boys have just survived a wash and tumble dry and are still pumping out as good a sound as you’d want without the impractical Beats by Dre style headphones strapped to the top of your head. At least I think they’re Sony, I can’t tell, the branding has washed off.

Next up I’ve got my notebook, usually used for team meeting notes, jotting client feedback down and brainstorming around new design ideas. I tend to do a lot of preliminary sketches in there too because the Dot Grid Books are just too precious to start messing them up with rough skamps, although the current one has taken a good battering over the last 3 weeks. It’s always nice to have a separate book for notes, somewhere you can scribble down ideas no one else needs to understand and it doesn’t have to be particularly legible. Also, I struggle with the idea of having all my notes set-up digitally, I can’t stand clicking through folders trying to find a one line note I could have just pulled out of my bag 10 minutes previous.


The Dot Grid books feel different to notebooks though, I’ve never been able to find one in a shop off the shelf. The fact you need to order them online and await their arrival automatically gives them an aura of superiority and this is why I treat them as such. For those who have never used a dot grid book, it’s not that much different to old maths books you used at school with the square paper, but instead of the gridded lines they’re just dots. They’re really useful for working with logo design which I tend to do a lot of at adomedia, they help with letter structure and spacing, scale and generally just give your drawing a little more balance and accuracy. How do you get the sketch from the grid paper to the screen? Usually you’d be best served using a scanner or something similar as its most accurate, but at the moment I just grab my phone out of my bag, take a picture and email it straight to my work email from there. Just like that.

The last thing in my bag, and probably my favourite is my Sony RX100 camera. It’s great on the go, small and compact and not just the average hand-held digi-cam. The picture quality is better than my Canon DSLR, has a video recording function and shoots in RAW format too. Its size isn’t just for convenience either, most venues and events won’t let you take your own zoom lens cameras inside and if you do manage to coax it by a doormen or steward you’ll quickly be told you can’t use it by another anti-creativity enforcer once you start taking snaps. The RX100 fits in my pocket and most clueless camera police don’t recognise the difference between it and a standard hand-held camera. The final hidden gem is the 8GB SD card it holds. When it’s not saving the excessive amount of pictures I take at the Etihad Stadium on match days it can be used as a portable storage device for files between work and home instead of those ugly looking USB sticks that I always seem to lose track of.

So, what’s in my bag? A significant chunk of my day-to-day life. It holds my utilities, ideas and my hobby. It’s not quite flick-knives and sporks and I wish I could throw in a Creative Review or a “Wreck This Journal” book but I do manage to get the most out of what’s in there, a little really can go a long way.