File Organization for Creatives: Using Dropbox & Airtable | Maja Faber | Skillshare

File Organization for Creatives: Using Dropbox & Airtable

Maja Faber, Surface Pattern Designer & Illustrator

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9 Lessons (38m) View My Notes
    • 1. Intro

      1:31
    • 2. Your Project

      0:39
    • 3. How and Why You Should Organize Your Files

      2:44
    • 4. Artwork Folders Using Dropbox

      8:27
    • 5. Artwork Files in Adobe Illustrator

      8:48
    • 6. Artwork Database With Airtable

      11:39
    • 7. Access All Files on All Devices

      1:59
    • 8. Backup

      1:06
    • 9. Thank You

      0:55
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About This Class

In this class, you will learn how to create a file organization system using Dropbox and Airtable. 

I will teach you my system of organizing, which you can use as it is or modify it as you wish so that it will suit the way you work. We will go through which folders you need for your artwork and how to make sure that your files are safely backed up. I will show you my way of saving my design files and how to name your files so that you easily can find them even years from now. We will also have a look at how to create a database for your design files using Airtable so that you can keep track of your files.

This class is for creatives who want to set up a functioning file organization system. It’s for you who want to keep it simple and don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. It’s a great class for you who want to have a ready-made system that you can put in place and start to work with today.

By the end of this class, you’ll have a functioning file organization system, where you’ll safely store your files. Easily can find them and where you also can access your files from all of your devices.

Transcripts

1. Intro: Hey, I'm Maja Faber, a surface pattern designer from Stockholm, Sweden. In this class, you will learn how to organize the growing pile of design files that we all have as creatives. Sounds boring and complicated. Well, it definitely can be. That's why I've created this simple to follow class for you, where you will learn how to easily set up your own file organization system using Dropbox and their table. I will teach you my system of organizing which you can use as it is or modify it as you wish so that it will suit the way you work. We will go through which folders you need for your artwork and how to make sure that your files are safely backed up. Then I will show you my way of saving my design files and how to name your files so that you easily can find them even years from now. We will also have a look at how to create a database for your design files using that table so that you can keep track of your files. As many of us work with different devices, computer, iPad, your phone, I think it's important to have a system that you can access from all of your devices, which I will show you how to set up in this class. This class is for creatives who wants to set up a functioning file organization system. Is for you who wants to keep the same boat and don't make it more complicated than it needs to be. It's a great class for you who wants to have a ready-made system that you could put into place and start to work with today. 2. Your Project: Your project in this class is to create your own file organization system for your design files. You can choose to copy my whole system if that suits you, but you can also take bits and pieces of it and create your own file organization system that suits you. To share this project, you can just take a screenshot of your folder and share it in the project and resources tab here in class, and also share some thoughts about what you learned in this class. 3. How and Why You Should Organize Your Files: Have you ever lost a file? I sure have and I will say that the main reason to why you need to get organized is to make sure that the files that you're working on for hours and hours are safely stored and easy to access. The longer you work as a creative, the more files you'll get, and the more files you get, the messier it will be if you're not organized. Is not only frustrating to not find the files that you're looking for, it can also be devastating for your business if you lose all of your files. Creating an organized file system will also increase your productivity and save you from a whole lot of frustration. If you take this class, I'm guessing that the why you should organize your files is easy for you to understand. But what about the how then? In this class, I will show you my way of organizing and storing my files. It might be that my system is perfect for you too, but it might also be not a perfect fit. We all work a bit differently. You can either just copy my system as it is or take bits and pieces of it and use what makes sense to you. I mainly work with surface pattern design collections and I will show you in this class how to organize my collection files. You could use about the same system, even if you don't work in collections, or if you work with illustrations, or some other creative field. As I work with Adobe Illustrator to create most of my artwork, that is the design files that I will show you in this class. If you don't use Adobe Illustrator, you could just jump ahead of that part of the class. However, you might find it useful how I name my files. For our file system, we will use Dropbox in this class to make sure that our files are safely stored in the cloud. I won't go through all the ins and outs of Dropbox, but we will rather focus on the file system in itself, where to store, how to name your folders and files. You don't need to use Dropbox to take this class, you could create the same system locally on your computer. That's why I won't go through in detail about Dropbox. To manage and keep track of all my design files, I use Airtable as a database for my artwork. I will teach you how to set up a simple artwork database, which you can use to keep track of which of your designs are being used for what purpose. Just note that this is not an [inaudible] class about Airtable. I will take you through my way of creating a database in Airtable, but not all about air as a tool. With that short little note about why and how you should organize your files, let's head over to the practical parts of this class. 4. Artwork Folders Using Dropbox: Let's start with organizing our files using folders. As I mentioned before, I use Dropbox to store all of my files. You can use Dropbox online only or as I do here, download it to your computer, which will give you a folder where you save everything. This folder then syncs to the cloud so that everything is up to date and backed up in the cloud. I recommend to download Dropbox to your computer and use it as your main folder to store all of your files. I won't go through how Dropbox works in this class, as that isn't the main focus. But if you want to store your files on Dropbox, you can go to dropbox.com to read more about the cloud service. You can download it here; read about the different plans. They have a free plan which is only, I think two gigabytes storage so that isn't enough. But what I use is the Personal Plus plan that has two terabytes storage. That's enough for me at this moment at least. Let's just start with having a look at how I build up the storage of my design files using folders. I built up this folder system which will make it easy to locate my files even years from now when I might even have forgotten about some files that I save today. Starting off, I have main folder that's called Patterns. You can of course name your folder something else, like artwork, illustration or whatever you want. In this folder, I store my files by the year I create them. So the folder name is DSDA like this 2020 folder, for example. As I mainly work in collections, I categorize my artwork by the name and the number of the collection. The number of the collection is the year, so 20, and 01 means that this is the first collection that I created in the year of 2020. In this example, the number is 2001 and the name of the collection is Tropicana. I've found that naming my collections and patterns with not only names but also numbers, makes it much easier to keep track and to find a certain design file in my very large and ever-growing portfolio of artwork. You can of course number your folders and files however you wish that makes sense to you. For me, that is the number of the year and the number of the collection in which order I created it that year. Let's click into one collection where I have some different folders. When I first start with the collection, I have this work-in-progress folder, which is sketches. Nowadays I often create my sketches and drawings for the motifs or my patterns on my iPad. I had a folder which is called iPad sketches that looks like this. This is where I save all of my original sketches that I create on my iPad. As you can see, I don't even bother naming them. Maybe I should, but I just never had taken time to do that. If we just have a look at one of these files is just a simple PDF with the sketches of some motifs. Next is a folder with my AI sketches, and this is where I start to create the patterns in Adobe Illustrator. The first document that I start to create a pertain in is called Round 1. The number of the collection, probably in this early stage of the collection making process, I don't know the name of the collection yet, but I know the numbers, so I will name it 2001 and Round 01. I can just open up that file so that you can have a quick look, like a sneak peek behind the scenes of my collection making process. So this is just a massive file, is the first file where I start to create patterns. As you can see, I have so many different variations of the patterns in the Swatches panel. I have a bunch of different color palettes that I work with. I have all of these different squares with patterns and it's a messy file, but that's just how I like to work. When I want to clean up this file in the process, I go on and create a Round 2 file. That will be this file. Next up is my collection folder, which I've just named 00 here so that it will show up on top of all of the folders. I store all of the patterns made in one collection in this collection file that I name the number of the collection 2001, the name Tropicana, and my name Maja Faber. In the next lesson, I will show you inside of this file and how I save my design files. But for now, let's move on with the folders. I also have a folder with single file. This is where I save all of the patterns in single files so that they are ready to send off to clients or to print on products. The single files are named as followed is the number of the collection 2001 and the number of the patterns 01 which just means that I decided this is number 1 in the collection and this is number 2, this is number 3. Then is the name of the pattern. In this case, the name of the pattern is the same as the name of the collection, so Tropicana, but here is the name of the pattern ice cream, cactus, floral tropical and so on. Then my name at the end. We will have a quick look inside of these files in the next lesson as well. I will just move on with the folders. Next folder I call Catalog, and that is where I save JPEG files that I share online in my digital pattern catalog, which I share with clients who wants to license my work so they can look at all of my patterns available for licensing and see if they find something they like in my online digital pattern catalog. Next up is the folder that I call Instagram. That is the same files as the one in the catalog folder, I just added my logo to it so that they are ready to be shared online. Next folder is called Mockups. Whenever I create a pattern collection, I also create a few mockups to show how my artwork would look on different products. These mockups are named the number of the pattern, the name of the pattern, my name, and what type of product the mockup shows. The last folder is what I call Swatches and that is where I save my color palette and also my patterns swatches in an AI file. I will show you in the next lesson how I do this as well. This is the whole system for saving my artwork in folders. I start with a year, then the number and the name of the collection. Then I have my different folders. I also create this collection template folder that I can just copy when I create a new collection and start to fill up these folders with my artwork. 5. Artwork Files in Adobe Illustrator: Let's have a look inside of my design files. I will show you how I save my artwork in Adobe Illustrator,as that is the program that I use for most of my design files. If you don't use Adobe Illustrator, you could just skip this part actually. Without going too much in depth in this lesson, I will show you the basics of how I save my design file. As I mentioned before, I work in collections, we will start by opening up my collection file. In the swatches panel, I have my pattern swatches and my color palette. I saved the color palette as a colored groups, it's actually pretty simple, I just select all of my artwork and click "New color Group". Then I just click "Okay" and here I have all of the colors included in this collection. I will just delete that one so that I don't make copies in this file. I also have all on my pattern swatches here in the swatches panel. So these are all the switches that I save to my swatch folder, which I showed you in the previous lesson. I do that by clicking the little menu "Save swatch library as AI" and then I save it to the swatches folder in my Tropicana collection folder like that. Then I can open up this swatch library in any file in Adobe Illustrator and use the pattern swatches as well as this color palette, which is pretty handy. Moving on to the left here, I create squares that I fill with the patterns. These are also the squares that I explored as picks and upload to my catalog on my website, as well as sharing online, for example, Instagram. I also have my original patterns here on different artboards and if we have a look in the layer panel, you can see that I have one with original patterns where the artwork is falling off the edges and one with a merge pattern swatch which is the finished pattern tile that you can use to print. As I go through this more thoroughly in my other classes about pattern design here on Skillshare such as from sketch to repeat pattern for example, I will just show you quickly here how to do this. So basically, I have my patterns in the swatches panel when I have created them, which also can learn more about in my other pattern design classes here on Skillshare, for example, from Sketch to Repeat Pattern is a great class to start with when learning to create patterns. What I do is that I drag out my patterns from swatches panel and then I hit "Command C" to copy my background books and hit "Command F" to paste it in front and then I use this new square to create an artboard. So I go to object, artboards, convert to artboard. Now I have my pattern perfectly aligned on my artwork, this is the patterns that I have on my original layer. Then I actually duplicate this layer. So you can just hit the little menu and hit "Duplicate Original". Lets just name this "merged new" so that we know that we will delete that one later on. Now this layer is just a copy of my original layer and then I want to merge my pattern here. So I go in and copy my background box, so use the direct selection tool, copy my background box, paste it to the front, and then I select everything, my pattern and the books and I go to object, clipping mask and make. Here, I have made a clipping mask of my pattern, which we'll just hide the objects that are falling off the edges. If I want to cut the objects off, I go to pathfinder and hit "Merge". Then I go to view, outline and now you have merged your pattern to your artboard and you have a perfect pattern tile. So that is how I saved the different layers. Let's just delete that new merged layer and I will also delete this extra pattern and our artboard over there. Now this collection file is finished, what I do next is to save all of these patterns that are on the artboard to separate files and what I do is that I save all of these different patterns, to separate files in Adobe Illustrator so that they look like this. I go to file, save as and my singles folder. I already have all of the files there, I just go to my example folder select "AI" as the format, hit "Save". In this option box I hit "Save each airport to a separate file" and I can just tap in our artboards or tap in the range. So let's try to tap in the range and just save artboard 1 until 2. Hit "Okay" and then I go to my examples folder, and I have saved my artboard 1 and my artboard 2 to separate files. Here you can see that I also have the merged layer, so all of the layers are saved to the artboard as well. You can also, of course, go in and save all of the artboards, save each artboard to separate file, hit "All" and "Okay". I'll just replace those and then I can go in and have a look at these files and I can see that all of my patterns are saved to separate files. So after this, I can just go in and name them. This is usually where I come up with the name and the number of the pattern. So will just go in and name that one 01, just remove the extension there and then I can go in and name all of the patterns. This is what it would look like when I'm finished naming all of the patterns that are saved to separate files.. If I have a pattern that has two different color variations in the same color way, I name them, the number of the pattern, like this 2001 number of the collection, number of the patterns 01. Number one for the purple one and number two for the mint green one. You could of course also name them purple and green, but I'd just like to name them by numbers. That was a quick look at how I save my design files in Adobe Illustrator, both the whole collection files and the single artwork files. 6. Artwork Database With Airtable: In this lesson, I will take you through how to create a simple artwork database using Airtable, which is basically a spreadsheet to online, but a little bit more dynamic than for example, Excel. It's a spreadsheet for people who don't like spreadsheets because you can work with color sorting and some other fun stuff that I will show you. Example, I'm free to start an account on Airtable. So you can just go to airtable.com and start an account, sign up for free. I will just sign in with Google here. This is what it looks like when you first open up Airtable. Just a note that this is non Airtable class. I won't go through all the ins and outs about Airtable. There's so much to explore. There's a lot of guys you can watch here, help centers, and you can also just try this out and see what you can do with it. The one thing that I will show you is how to create a simple artwork database. That is something that I find that Airtable is really good to use for. The first step is to add a workspace, and I click "Okay". I will name this workspace artwork, and then I will add a base. Click "Add a base" and here I will click "Start from scratch", and I will just name my base artwork database. You can add symbols here to your little symbol of the database. You can also choose colors. Let's just go ahead with some color. Doesn't really matter. Then I will just click in to that base. Here you can select different views. You can create new views here. For this example, I will just use the grid view. If you ever worked with spreadsheets before, you might recognize this a little bit. In this artwork database, what we will do is to add our patterns, and then we can add the status of the pattern, if it's available, if it's licensed, or actually all sorts of information that you want to add to that pattern or artwork. Now we'll just create a very simple database here. In Airtable, you can create all sorts of tables. You can link tables to each other and you can create all sorts of complicated or simple systems or whatever you feel like. But I will just keep it very simple and create a basic artwork database. In the first column, it says name, which is fine. You can click on Customize field, and here we can maybe add name plus number of the pattern. Down here, you can choose what type of field type you want. We will just go for a single line text here and hit "Save". In the next column, we can customize this field, and I will just name this collection. Here I will just choose single select. So this means that I can select one of these options that I add, and I will add my different collections. Let's say 2001 Tropicana, 2002, and you can just go on and add all of your different collections if you work with collections. Then I will hit "Save". The next field can stand as it is, it's attachments. I can add an image here for example, so I will just keep it as the attachment. Status works fine for me. What I will do is to go in and customize this field, and instead of single select, I will do multiple select. Here I will add four options: available, licensed, sold outright, and print on demand. This is what my patterns are used for. I can select which colors I want on these different options. Maybe something like this. Blue for available, green for licensed, pink for sold outright, and yellow for print on demand. Then I will hit "Save". The next column that I have in my pattern database is multiple select and I will name it markets. This is where I add to which market this pattern is licensed or sold to or uploaded to a print on demand site. Then I will just add some different markets. For example, textile, stationery, wallpaper, cases and skins, gift products, home decor, and then you can just go on and add all sorts of different markets. After this, I will add a long text field, and I will name it collaborator and deal and create that field. Then we have all of the columns that we need for this very simple artwork database. So now I will just show you how to use this. Let's add our patterns that we've created. You can use the catalog or the Instagram, the JPEG files. I'll just used to catalog. You can change your row height here. Maybe you want medium or even tall, or extra tall. Let's do extra tall so that you can see what I'm doing. The name and the number, I just copy from the file. So I hit Command C and Command V. Then I can increase the size of that row. In collection, I click in which collection this is. This is 2001 Tropicana. In attachments, I drag in the file with the JPEG so that I quickly can see the pattern here when it's uploaded. Under status, I can click in Available, or maybe if I get it licensed, I can click in Licensed. I might also have it licensed and on print on demand. This is why I have the multiple select, so that you can select several statuses on that one. Under market, you can click in all the markets that you have sold this to or that you use it for on print on demand or print on your own products. For example, textile and home decor. Under collaborator and deal, you can type in the name of the collaborators. Let's say that we have licensed this to textile company. Let's just say that they are named The Textile Company. Then I can just go in and write something about the deal and the collaborator, maybe it's a two-year contract from some date to some date. Maybe it's exclusive to this market, and all information that you have about the deal that you made. It can also be that you want to write about the print on demand. Maybe used on Society6 on all sorts of products in my own shop. This column is for you to remember who you had licensed the artwork to and some detailed information about the deal. You could go further to create a separate table for collaborators, and link that table to this one. But that's a little bit more advanced, and I don't think that you need that in this basic artwork database. Now we filled in all of the different columns, let's just go ahead and create one more pattern. Let's just pretend that that is for another collection and it's available. I won't fill in the market because it's available and I don't need to fill in the collaborator and deal because no one have licensed it yet. Now you can work with this spreadsheet as you do with all spreadsheets. You can go in and sort, and you can pick several fields to sort by, which you can experiment with. You can also go in and group. Maybe you want to group by collection. This will give you a very simple overview of your patterns, your collections, what they're used for, so that you can keep track on all of your artwork. 7. Access All Files on All Devices: In this lesson, I will show you one of the major perks of using a Cloud service such as Dropbox to store your files. When I work, I use all of my devices for different purposes and for different parts of my workflow. As an example, I use my iPad to sketch and find inspiration, my computer to create my final pieces of artwork, and my phone to share my artwork online. What Dropbox does, is enable me to access all of my files on all of my devices, as long as I have access to a wi-fii connection and have the Dropbox app downloaded to these devices. Let's just have a quick look. As an example, we can go into this Tropicana Instagram folder. I can go to my Dropbox app on my iPad, hit 2020,Tropicana, Instagram. Here I have the same file. Then I can export this file, for example, save it as an image. It works the same on my phone, so we just tap the Dropbox app. I am in my Patterns folder, 2020, Tropicana and Instagram. Here I have the same file, which I can just export to my camera roll. This is really handy and it makes my workflows so much easier. All you need to do if you use Dropbox, is to have the Dropbox app downloaded to all of your devices and a wi-fi connection. 8. Backup: Last but not least, I just want to make a note in this class about backup. If you use Dropbox or another Cloud service, your files will be backed up to the Cloud. I trust the Dropbox will store my files correctly, but I still use an external hard drive as well, once in a while to copy all of my files. Hard drives can break, and of course, you can control Dropbox as a Cloud service, so they can change their plans or do whatever they want with their service, so I think it's a good idea to have your files in at least two different places. Dropbox updates your files basically as you create them, so it's always up to date. A hard drive, you need to connect once in a while to copy everything, but at least you have the latest copy of them. I would make it a habit to back up to an external hard drive as well. Basically what I wanted to say with this lesson, is that whichever way you choose to store your files, make sure that you back up your files so that you never can end up losing it all. 9. Thank You: That's all for this class. I hope that you found this class useful and that you either can take my whole system and use it as it is, or that you at least found bits and pieces that suit you, that you can use for your own fight organization system. Thank you so much for watching. If you liked this class, hit the Follow button by my name to make sure that you don't miss out on my future classes. If you have any questions at all, please ask them on the Discussions page here in class, and feel free to leave a review to let me know if you enjoyed this class. I would love to hear your thoughts. Make sure that you share your project here in class. If you posted on Instagram, feel free to tag me with @maja_faber. Thanks again for watching.