9 Super Cool Gifts for Graphic Designers in 2023


On the hunt for some cool and useful gifts for the graphic designer in your life? This curated list of tools and tech features products is sure to benefit every designer.

Dive in for some tried and true – and always satisfying gifts for graphic designers.

Graphic designers can be a pretty predictable bunch. Toss us a laptop and drawing tablet, and we can pretty much do whatever we need to do from wherever we are – within wifi range of course.. But beyond the basics, there are some really cool tools and gadgets for graphic designers that really polish up the experience and make the design process so much more efficient and satisfying. If you want to make a difference to a designer, here are some cool gifts for graphic designers ranging in price, taste and level of sophistication.

Super Cool Gifts for Graphic Designers

1. Give the gift of a good sketchbook

cool gifts for graphic designers; image features art supplies, an open sketchbook with designs and paints.

And what constitutes a good sketchbook? Below are a couple of different categories of good sketchbooks for different purposes..

Digital designers do a lot of work on a computer – there are some projects that begin electronically, are worked through their entire process within an Adobe program, and remain digital until they are sent to print and become a tangible product or publication. or maybe they stay digital forever, as a digital file. Then there are the projects that invite us to really brainstorm, go deep and vision. We scribble, sketch and scratch out lines and shapes as we try to conceptualize our ideas, flipping and crumpling and getting very tactile.

For these times, graphic designers love a sketchbook. And likely they have at least a couple of different kinds: the cheap one where they hash out the ‘not precious’ scribbles that are the foundation of what will become a full art piece, allowing for lots of mistakes, doodles and page ripping. In these moments, I have really gotten a lot of use out of this 3 sketch book pack from Amazon. They’re super affordable, small enough to tote around, and even if I am going through them quickly, I usually have one to share!

Then there are the times when designers are drawing more artistic pieces – the keepers. In these sketchbooks, we tend to get a bit more choosy about the work going in there, and the drawing tools too – only our best fine liners in this book! And it’s always a good idea to test a page to see if our pens or markers bleed through.. For these weightier designs, if I’m feeling super splurgy, I might go for a Moleskine sketchbook (okay, truthfully I have only ever owned 3 Moleskines).. But I also try new sketchbooks all the time – this Canson Pro Marker Sketchbook is pretty great at not allowing markers to bleed through, fyi…

2. High Quality Drawing Pens and Pencils

gifts for graphic designers: pens and pencils. Image depicts a line up of pens and pencils on a blue background

Naturally, after the sketch book chat, we’ll move right into the drawing tools chat. One of the best gifts for graphic designers is a great writing tool – they will always come in handy, and even if someone already has a bunch of great pens or pencils, every graphic designer thinks they need more! It’s a perfect match.

Always a winner with artists and designers, from the thins to the thicks, this Pigma Micron Fine Line 6 Pen Set is affordable and impactful. Capable of drawing as fine as a hair, and as thick as a… a thick hair… if you get these for an artist you know and their eyes don’t light up, are they even a scrappy sketching designer anyway??

As for pencils, I will recommend another set, but this time it’s not about thicks and thins, it’s about how soft or hard the lead is in the pencil. When you see sketches in deep blacks and high contrast, those are softer lead; when you see the very light grays, and it seems no matter how much shading is done, the color remains pretty light – those are the harder leads.

I love a set that spans from the H’s to the B’s and this Staedtler & Mars Lumograph set of 12 does a pretty good job of that – oh and also they just feel so good.. Smooth.. sturdy.. glidey.. buttery? Ya.. buttery. Pair these lovely pencils with a good sketchbook and a snack, and any artist will revel in the whole textural and tactile experience of sketching..

3. The Gift of a Creative Membership That Keeps on Giving…

gifts for graphic designers: memberships. Image depicts a woman working in low light on a 3D rendering of a sneaker.

Digital artists rely on sooo many memberships. I feel safe saying that every graphic designer who is doing a variety of client work is using the Adobe Creative Suite. Also Dropbox. Maybe PlaceIt? And what about a stock photo subscription?

If you know someone well and feel comfortable springing for a creative membership or subscription – the right creative membership can open a lot of doors for a designer. I think this is one of the best gifts for design students and new graphic designers. Even an Audible subscription would be something many designers would find useful. We do a lot of tedious projects where we’re moving shapes and text, and making imagery, and sometimes it’s nice to listen to stories in the background..

If you choose to give the gift of a membership or subscription, it’s probably most helpful to offer the money directly to the person receiving the subscription so they can set it up in their contact info.

4. Lap Desks for Laptop Lovers

gifts for graphic designers: lapdesk. Image depicts a woman sitting on her couch with a laptop on a lap desk

How many designers do you know who just haul their laptops around from space to space – sofas, chairs, bed.. It’s a whole thing. And when working on huge files or projects, sometimes those laptops heat up! Having a laptop sitting directly on your lap when it’s spinning and hot and chugging through a huge Photoshop file can be a literal medical hazard (remembers many red thighs from laptops on lap)..

Fortunately, there are some great lap desks out there. If I were to buy a new laptop desk, I would want one that was both versatile and well-designed. There are so many to choose from, so I love finding one from an independent seller. This laptop board from Etsy accommodates a laptop or a tablet and has some handy features that allow you to keep a phone (or colored pencils) strapped down and in place. There are also slots toward the back of the board allowing for tablets and phones to stand upright – and I would also imagine that would also be a great place for a favorite writing utensil.

If you’re shopping for a designer who moves around the house or office, a lap desk may just be the perfect gift!

5. Change a Life.. With a Drawing Tablet

gifts for graphic designers: drawing tablet. Image depicts a drawing tablet with a hand holding a stylus in soft lighting.

More than just another graphic design gadget, drawing tablets are absolutely magical gifts for graphic designers. There are so many to choose from, and I have gone through a few different options since getting my first Wacom tablet in 2009. In my full-time graphic design job, I was issued the Wacom Intuos Pro, and while this has a larger drawing area than a smaller tablet, that actually didn’t make as big of a difference as I thought. My freelance tablet is the Wacom Intuos (the small one) – and I love this size! I love it so much that I asked for my work tablet to be traded out for one this size.

There are some handy buttons that designers can use, but I am a fairly lazy tablet user, tbh, and I just use mine instead of a mouse – and of course for design and illustration work. I’ve worked as a writer and designer for 20+ years, so using a pen tablet really helps me with the pain in my hands – it has been a lifesaver with these achey joints and carpal tunnel bouts. If you have the budget to gift a designer a tablet that they may not have, it may change their life. It will definitely change their workflow and comfort.

6. A Digital Artist Glove for Smooth Gliding Glorious Drawing

gifts for graphic designers: drawing glove. Image depicts a person using a digital drawing glove drawing a scene on an iPad.

Along with any sort of tablet that uses an electronic pen or pencil, the digital artist glove can make a huge difference depending on the kind of work being done. When I’m just using my drawing tablet as a mouse for general design projects, I don’t often use the glove. But when I am working on an illustration that requires precision, a steady hand, long lines, and a smooth delivery, the glove is a must.

The digital artist glove will prevent the dragging and jerking that may happen when your skin is gliding along the surface of a tablet but sort of… sticks.. If a designer is working on fine art details, the glove allows for the smoothest glide, so all the artist has to worry about is not drinking too much caffeine and keeping a steady hand.

You can find a fun and personal design for your designer with these cute patterned digital design gloves from Digital Artist Store.

7. iPad + Apple Pencil = The Gift that Will Give and Give…

gifts for graphic designers: iPad. Image depicts a woman drawing on an iPad with Apple pencil.

For the most extravagant gift on this list, I am throwing in one of the most useful (but also expensive) tech gifts for graphic designers. In the market for a gift that will really change things up for the designer in your world? For a designer who doesn’t have one, the Apple iPad  + Apple Pencil is a game changer. It’s also one of the best gifts for illustrators – especially paired with the Procreate app.

Designers can do a lot of things – almost everythingwithout using an iPad. I spent 15 years working exclusively on my laptop + Adobe Creative Suite before I finally caved and got an iPad with the pencil. But.. Once I did, the versatility of being able to draw directly onto the tablet gave me a whole new way of working – especially on illustrations and lettering work.

Being able to grab the iPad on the go and use it to document my adventures through quick illustrations is every design dream, isn’t it? I still use my wacom + laptop more than I ever use my iPad – keeping my head upright is one of the perks of that combo – but I love having the choice.

So if you’re feeling like changing a designer’s whole game, and you’ve got the budget for it, this is a really great gift for a graphic designer.

8. Ice Packs, Compression Gloves and Arnica Cream

gifts for graphic designers: ice packs, arnica cream, compression gloves. Image depicts woman in front of a laptop holding her neck in pain.

Are graphic designers climbing scaffolding and hammering nails and lifting heavy things? Honestly, sometimes yes.. Yes we are.. But – in the other times, when we’re just tapping out the copy in a magazine layout or working on an illustration, we often have sore backs.. And hands.. And necks..

We try.. We take our carpal tunnel stretch breaks.. stand up, walk around a few times a day.. stretch some more at a desk.. But this is an oddly physical job for parts like fingers and wrists and necks. A great first line of defense is a good arnica cream.

I’m a fan of the Arnicare cream – it’s more convenient than using arnica oil, and I daresay it smells better. I mean – arnica isn’t known for its sweet floral bouquet, despite the fact that it’s a flower (Arnica Montana to be precise). But it immediately soothes sore muscles, it helps bruises, and it’s a great friend to anyone whose joints veer toward the arthritis.. So its odd smell isn’t a deal breaker. But do be warned..

A regular old ice pack also does wonders (and the 2-pack I linked is my favorite pack). But then there are some really interesting specialty ice packs – like these Newgo Hand Ice Pack gloves – ooh la la!! These icy little hand hugs will make you want to stay in to watch the Golden Girls while giving your hands the spa treatment..

Speaking of hands, a pair of good copper compression gloves can really help a designer last throughout the day. From typing to layout to using a stylus all day, these gloves will allow you continue using your hands to do what you need to do, while offering a supportive and snug squeeze.

Gift your graphic designer friend a little basket of pain relief, and you’ll turn some heads (because those necks can turn so much better when they’re relaxed..).

9. Give the Gift of the Graphic Artist Guild Handbook – Every Designer Needs One!

gifts for graphic designers: graphic artist's guild handbook

Considered the essential book of knowledge for graphic artists, the Graphic Artist Guild Handbook really is priceless. It’s not a flowy story kind of read – it is pages and pages of information on every kind of design you can think of. Not only that, this book offers pricing guidelines, how to draw up contracts, how to invoice, negotiate, and earn a living as a graphic artist.

This is one of the most practical gifts for a graphic designer. Especially freelancers or entrepreneurs. It’s also a great gift for illustrators and surface pattern designers and those interested in licensing their artwork. I have used the art licensing contract and feel really grateful to have a template for something like that. Artists will still have to personalize their contracts, but this offers a basic version.

Honestly, there are so many cool gifts for graphic designers, this list just features a few really useful tools and items for graphic designers that will help you narrow down your search and find the perfect gift in your price range. Hopefully this list helps you find a super cool gift for the graphic designer, illustrator or multi-media artist in your life!


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