An Art Director Goes to Adobe MAX and [insert punch line here]

Look, I was in LA for a week at Adobe MAX and spent about half of that time just eating a bunch of tacos, so if this post runs off the rails, blame it on that. But let’s get back to MAX, Adobe’s yearly conference to celebrate creativity and announce its plans for the future of its products.

If you’re a non-creative (guess what? you’re still creative, but that’s a whole different post), you might not know all that Adobe does beyond Photoshop. But to put it simply, its suite of products has opened creative fields to a whole new generation of people, including me, the author of this post. Hey, thanks, Adobe!

Here are the top 5 takeaways from the conference:

1. Connection should drive design.

So many of the sessions and workshops I went to throughout the week centered on expressing authenticity through design. Adam J. Kurtz, a New York-based artist, hammered this point throughout his session on how using his personal voice in his designs helped connect him to others and grow his business. Adam said something that really resonated with me:

“Figure out what you are saying & then f***ing say it.”

Next time I feel myself in a design slump, I’m sure those words are going to smack me in the brain and get me back on track. As a long-time follower and fan of his, it was great to meet Adam and a) not just fanboy it up , but also b) see that the authenticity he presents in his digital work is palpable in the real world.

2. Research can help make designs more authentic.

Annie Atkins, a graphic designer for TV and film, including Wes Anderson standouts The Grand Budapest Hotel and Isle of Dogs, talked extensively about the process of using historical research to create authentic designs, both seen and un-seen, in our favorite movies. It was absolutely fascinating to see how the graphic choices for even the smallest of props, like a handwritten map, could be traced to a historical reference that ultimately made the design stronger.

PRO TIP: if you need paper to look aged on a budget, staining it with tea is still the way to do it. Elementary school art teachers have that technique on lock.

3. Agency structure can help design.

Natasha Jen, a partner at Pentagram, spoke about how rejecting the traditional pyramid structure of agencies helps aid her team in creating renowned design work. At Pentagram, every team is equal regardless of how much profit they generate, and all profits are shared between every team. I’m still pretty new to the business world, but that’s just wild. Right? But that equality allows them to approach every job with the same design fervor.

4. Photoshop is coming to iPad in 2019.

Adobe announced that they’ve finally done what I’ve been waiting for. Photoshop, their most popular program, is coming to iPad in an actual full-featured form instead of the dumbed down versions currently hanging around the App Store. In related news, here’s a glimpse in to the future emails from me to the creative team:

RE: RE: RE: Working from home

Hey team, I’m working from home today because I have an iPad Pro and can easily open that giant Photoshop file from the comfort of my couch. Or like anywhere I guess????? So, uh, good luck wearing pants today because I’m not gonna.


5. Someone needs to tell me where to get the best tacos in Kansas City.

I ate so much good food in LA, but coming back to KCMO, someone needs to tell me where to get the best tacos, because it’s just going to be criminal to have to go through winter without some spicy joys wrapped in tortillas. Please help.

But before you send me your reccos, you can find a more point-by-point list of all the new announcements Adobe made during MAX over on their blog. And keep a look out on the work pumping out of MBB in the next few months, because boy oh boy, am I returning to work hungry to create more authentic, better designs (and hungry for tacos, don’t forget that.)

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