I like to carry stuff. Back before EDC was an acronym and the internet had a subculture for everyone, I was just a weirdo who carried a bag with me everywhere. My first love was backpacks. I played a lot of videogames growing up, one of my favorites was a game called Earthbound, it was a modern day RPG and your backpack was your inventory system. That idea really stuck in my head. I made sure when I left my house I would be prepared for adventure, even though most days all I would use was a bottle of water (+1 hydration!).
In college I moved to messenger bags, for lots of reasons but what it really boiled down to is that I thought they looked cooler. My videogame style inventory went from adventure items to more practical items. I was an art student, so I carried my art supplies around (+2 paper, +1 ink!). Lots of people at my school were painters and sculptors, but I was the only illustrator in my graduating class. One of the reasons I picked illustration, besides enjoying it, was that everything I could possibly need to do my job could be carried in my bag.
Now that I am a grown up working in the field, I stuck with the sling bag look. My current bag is The J. Peterman Counterfeit Mailbag (full disclosure, I work for The J. Peterman company). It is my studio. It is not overburdened with compartments: one large main inside, one zippered outside.
I needed something to keep the main pocket organized. So I thought I would try out the Lihit Lab Teffa Bag-in-Bag, A4 size. It does its job in spades. This is mandatory equipment if you have a large compartment bag, it worked equally well in my older Chrome Citizen. I keep a medium sketchbook, a large pad of Bristol board, a ruler and a multitude of pens, pencils, markers, aqua brushes and erasers in this thing. My bag would be chaos without it.
The whole bag-in-bag system is a large rectangle, on the outside are three pen slots and two large flap pockets. These are all sewn into two slit pockets that fit narrower items, pocket notebooks or even a wallet. The edge of the rectangle is zippered to open up a pocket the size of the whole rectangle. The brand calls this A4 size (8.27in by 11.7in, what the world calls “letter” and America calls “almost letter”) don’t let this turn you off if you are stateside, I can fit my 9in by 12in Bristol board with room to spare for a magazine or two.
I have had bags in the past that had built-in sections for all of these things, but here is where the bag in bag system excels over built-in compartments: When I go to grab my paper or pens, I can pull the whole thing out. All of my paper and utensils are right there. I usually have some other non-drawing items in my bag (laptop, book, harmonica, etc.) and this way I don’t have to lug that on to what ever flat surface I have deemed as my desk at the moment. I can’t tell you how many times I have grabbed the Teffa out and felt comforted that no matter where I was, on the road for business or at my coffee table at home, everything is right there organized and ready.
I chose a bright yellow model because I thought any brightness to help find things would be helpful. It looks sunny and friendly in my bag, eager to be pulled out and used. I am the kind of person who likes to be able to draw wherever I am, and not just sketch, I like to have the ability to start and finish a project in one spot. If I'm going to stop mid-stride while walking down the road to draw comics, often enough my mind is telling me dumb things like “Draw a robot ghost!” I like to draw cartoons, I’m not making high art over here. Regardless, I find comfort in having my tools nearby and at the ready, even if I go a few days without touching them.
You can find the Lihit Lab Teffa Bag-in-Bag in two sizes at Jetpens.com. These two things, the Mailbag and the Teffa bag-in-bag, are comforting to have around. They travel well and I take them everywhere: One part security blanket, one part library, one part studio, one part briefcase. It’s my inventory system, and the Teffa levels it up (+5 organization!).
(Disclaimer: This product was provided for me free of cost but I am not otherwise being compensated for this review. The opinions contained are my own.)