First principles of tools
Tools empower you—the creative maker—to do your job better, faster, easier, and more masterfully. But, forces in this world push you to focus on owning expensive tools over improving your craft.
Why spend time practicing when a new tool could make it easier?
It's more important than ever to grasp how tools influence your experience with growing creative endeavors. Like anything in life, some core tenets are worth identifying. Everyone's goals, budget, talents, and influences are different, making it all the more important to stick to first principles.
First principles of tools
1. Understand the investment before starting.
It can be a real shock to people just how expensive tools of a trade can be. There are single-use items, long-term investments to thoughtfully consider, the cost of learning materials, maintenance products that keep your long-term gear working properly... and the list goes on. Each field has a minimum threshold of what it will take—even most digital fields have software/subscriptions! Don't let the grandeur of a skill persuade you into thinking it's more doable financially than it is.
2. Your tools need to grow with you.
Selecting a tool that matches your skill level is best when starting any creative craft. Having an expensive tool as a beginner is almost a handicap rather than helpful because you cannot make use of the nuanced details that make it great. As your skill increases, so should the "level" of your tools. Your tools should give you room to grow without holding you back.
3. The better you get, the more you appreciate simplicity.
There's a reason why photographers love Leica cameras. The craftsmanship is completely unmatched—but more importantly, so is the simplicity. Focusing strictly on the essentials of photography and removing all other frivolous aspects allows the photographer to be one with their tool. A beginner might even struggle to use a Leica because it lacks the automatic features of other manufacturers. But in the hands of an experienced maker, it becomes a tool for pure creation.
4. Research, research, research.
You need to understand every facet of your tools deeply. How could you identify a "good" tool over a "bad" one if you don't learn how it all works? Even more than having personal understanding, it's also to figure out which tools will help you work best and where you're at in your journey (see previous point). Making the best, most thoroughly educated decision about your tools is a mark of someone truly dedicated to the craft.
Tools can profoundly impact your experience of growing a creative career. But don't let them dictate your determination—even the most humble of tools can be used to make the grandest of art when used with intention.