Erick Mikiten : I’ve my own firm, with one foot firmly planted in hand drawing, the other foot in tech. I worked for other firms in Texas Los Angeles, and San Francisco after grad school and the moment I had enough hours under my belt to be eligible for the licensing exam, I quit, got a teaching, gathered projects and started Mikiten Architecture in Berkeley.

I used ArchiCAD 3D BIM (Building Information Modelling) software, became a reseller for it and created a software package add-on to ArchiCAD, basically an organisational one with preset templates and so forth. They bought us out at $2K. That was a long time ago.

I bought because a couple of landscape architecture colleagues were using it with other software. I bought it with Trace and Procreate in mind mostly Sketchbook next — I thought it was compelling that I could have that much control with the Pencil.

My first captivation with it was the color wheel and the Copic markers. I like those markers. My impression was that Concepts was made by Copic, endorsed by a bigger company and not a fly-by-night sketching company like the thousands that have proliferated. I only learned months later that Top Hatch is a small company.

The real question is how do you make it easier for architects — who have a fairly narrow set of goals — to get things done quickly when you’re in a crunch. Every day you have demands — sketching, making on submitting to contractors client communication — and with these demands you have to make a choice. Sketch on the paper that’s strewn about your desk. Start working on ArchiCAD sitting right there on your mac.

What I tell my colleagues is think about picking up the when you might be compelled to pick up one of the other two because it’s easy and it’s worth it.

There are so many architects over 40 who have enough experience in quick techniques from years ago who are not as facile, versus the twenty and thirty year old brought up in school who can’t draw themselves out of a paper bag. It creates a problem in communication for us. There are principals, sole proprietors, mid and upper level architects who missed the computer revolution in some ways who would love to have a tool that is digital and flexible, but is also paper, because paper is what they know.

They freak out when they see my sketches. They have this sense of relief that maybe they are being given a second chance. These experienced architect instead of looking over their drafters’ shoulders and verbally trying to communicate visual ideas now they can do it themselves.

As for how I use the concepts takes the place of paper for sketching. I do a great deal of sketching, and has the exact same feel as true sketching. It takes each way on the BART to get to my son’s school. I bring my instead of a sketchbook or computer. The computer takes way too much time and thinking, and less visual ability — the break-through power of the with Concepts amazes me. I turn smoothing on to get rid of the bumps from the train and get to work.

My project at the moment has 43 layers. All of these layers have different versions of a plan. I trace the unchangeable structure plus notes in black. Then I have layers and layers of changes in blue. I have 70 layers for indecisive clients. Iterations are important for your clients and you need to be able to sketch effectively, and turn on and off your layers. The ability to scrub through these layers is very cool and very helpful.