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Q&A with Laura Kalbag

Web designer from Brighton in the UK

My name is Laura Kalbag. I’m a designer from Brighton in the UK. Whilst I specialise in web design, a lot of my projects also involve illustration, icon design and branding. I work freelance with mostly small clients, such as small businesses, startups and individuals. I write a column for A List Apart and sometimes I speak at conferences.


Day-to-day I use a 15" MacBook Pro with an Apple Display, but I’ve just ordered a new 13” MacBook Air which, only two years later, is a better spec than my 2011 MacBook Pro.

Recently I got hold of a Doxie Go scanner which is great for scanning sketches, as well as bills and receipts for admin. It’s slim, light, quiet and totally portable which is great for scanning away from home.

Most of my projects start out on paper and I’m very particular about my notebooks and pens. I use Leuchtturm1917 notebooks with squared paper. The squares in Leuchtturm1917 books are far lighter than other notebook brands, and can be easily edited out when scanned. The squares allow me to use the lines for sketching layouts, just the horizontal lines for writing or ignore the subtle lines altogether to sketch freely.

I use a J. Herbin metal rollerball pen. It’s sturdy but light and not too chunky, so perfect for my small hands. The J. Herbin pens take standard ink cartridges, but they have a huge range of fun colours that come packaged in cute little tins.


My favourite and most-used design tool is Sketch. I use this for most of my design work and love how quickly it’s evolving and growing.

For coding, I use Sublime Text 2 for text editing with CodeKit for compiling and SourceTree for version control. I like having visual interfaces to save me from the scary command line. MAMP Pro and Ghostlab are two tools I couldn’t live without for helping me keep my dev environment local, this means I don’t have to worry about getting on a train or suddenly losing internet connection during my working day.

Keeping myself organised, I rely heavily on The Hit List and FreeAgent. The Hit List helps me schedule all my to-do list with loads of useful keyboard shortcuts, and FreeAgent is indispensable for doing my business accounts, tracking time and invoicing clients.


My dream would be to have all the equipment you get at art school at my disposal. I always lament the amount of time I wasted at art school working on my own computer when I could have been playing with the printing presses, the paints and inks, and the construction tools. I love making things with my hands, and I’m certain these crafts give us different ways to look at our digital work.


My inspiration mostly comes from understanding other people’s motivations. It’s so fascinating finding out what makes people tick, and why they care; it makes me feel involved. I also love seeing what other people achieve under extreme constraints as I think this is when we can be our most creative.

It’s so fascinating finding out what makes people tick, and why they care; it makes me feel involved