What is the Cricut Design Studio?

Attention crafters and Cricut enthusiasts! Cricut (pronounced ‘Crick cut’), a cutting machine for home crafters, currently sells three different models, each more sophisticated than the last. All Cricut machines are computer-controlled and can cut various materials, such as fabric, felt, leather, and wood. The three models are:

  • Cricut Joy (current price $179.99)
  • Cricut Explore Air 2 ($249.99)
  • Cricut Maker ($399.99)

The machines use a Design Space Program, which you download from the Cricut Design Studio website. Connect your Cricut to your computer using a Bluetooth connection or cable. Then, download the Design Space Program. New software can be a bit of a mystery—what is this Cricut Design Studio anyway? For starters, it’s the key to designing with Cricut.

What is the Cricut Program?

Cricut Design Space is the free software that Cricut machines use. You can use the software on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Cricut’s website lists the minimum system requirements that your device will need to meet to run the application.

Is Cricut Design Studio Free?

But there’s a catch, right? You probably have to pay for the Cricut Design Space program. Wrong! The download is free. After that, you can choose from three different program options.

1. Free

With a free program subscription, you can use 1,000 images and more than 15 fonts. There are also 250 projects that you pay for as you use them. “Free” is a great option for casual hobbyists.

2. Standard

Standard access costs $9.99/month or $95.88/ year. This option gives you unlimited use of more than 100,000 images, 500 fonts, a 10% discount on licensed images, and thousands of ready-to-make projects. You’ll also receive unlimited collections—collections are your organized projects— and a discount of 10% on other cricut.com purchases.

3. Premium

You can only access the Premium service through an annual fee of $119.88. Premium includes all of the options in Standard access and a discount of 20% on all materials. Those who go Premium also receive free economy shipping on orders over $50.00 and Priority Member Care.

Which Option Should I Choose?

This depends on how much you are going to use your Cricut. If your idea is to make iron-on designs for your daughter’s tee shirts or design original presents for your friends, then the basic, free access is probably enough. As you gain more experience and perhaps want to start a small business, you can move up to the Standard or Premium option.

How Do You Use The Cricut Design Studio?

The Cricut Design Studio will open as Cricut Design Space on your computer. Launch the program and at the top of the home page, you will find a list of all your projects. Below is a large variety of projects that you might want to use to decorate everything from a tee shirt to a coffee mug. Click on any project that you want to use. If the project photo has a lower-case ‘a’ in the photo’s top left corner, the project is free to use within your Cricut Access Subscription (see above). Generally, you can use access programs for a free trial period.


The ‘canvas’ option is under the drop-down menu on the left of the home screen. This links to a screen where you can design your project and calibrate the design according to your Cricut model. Canvas is where you do all your design work. You can save and alter your projects as you wish. Canvas is user-friendly but, as with all similar tools, you will need some practice. Canvas offers templates, access to projects, an image library, text options, and shapes.


When you have finished your design, send it to your printer, choose the material you want to use, and the tools you are going to use. The program gives you clear instructions about your cutting and material options. Cricut has a range of materials that you can buy through their website or from a supply store. However, you do not need to use Cricut brand materials.

What Does Cricut Design Space Do?

Cricut Design Space lets you design and print imaginative designs to transfer to a wide range of articles. You can personalize items for your own use or as gifts for friends and family. The range of options is enormous; only your imagination limits what you can do with Design Space. Children will love using it to make gifts for their friends.


Cricut Design Space has done away with the need for cartridges that older models used. The cartridges store images and fonts according to a specific theme, such as birthdays, summer, or sports. However, you can still use old cartridges with the new, fully electronic machines. You simply link your cartridges to the new machine through the Cricut website.  


Most reviews on the internet stress that Design Studio is easy to use from the beginning. The program does, in fact, guide you through the entire setup of your Cricut machine so you’re not left guessing what to do. Reviewers also point to the wide range of projects and ideas that you can try. 

The machines are not cheap but are fairly priced considering their sophistication. You could also end up dishing out a lot of money on materials, tools, and access. Cricut may prove to be a little expensive for a hobbyist. That being said, the Design Studio’s sophistication could make it worth your while.

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