This is a year for firsts. Most of them not great, but it’s not all bad. This year marks the first time Adobe has made their annual Adobe MAX conference completely online and free to all. And that means quite a lot. With famous attendees, a huge roster of contributors, and a fair amount of production (with this year demanding even more) it surely is an expensive undertaking. This year brought a lot of great content including information and tips that even the most independent designers could not make an excuse to miss.
The three-day-long event was broken up into main keynotes and category specific sessions (design, photography, video, 3D, AR, etc.). They included famous actors and artists like Awkwafina, Common, Conan O’Brien, Nick Offerman, Stanley Tucci, Taika Waititi, Wes Anderson, and Zach Braff. And well-known designers like Paula Scher, Aaron Draplin, Shepard Fairey, Annie Atkins, and a host of other equally talented professionals. Most of the session’s content that aired is available for free on Adobe’s website. There is a lot to sift through. Here are some that I would recommend.
Most of the big names you’ve probably heard of were in the keynotes. They also have some fun-for-all content with broad appeal. Unfortunately most of the content was live broadcast and is not available on demand except for the first one.
These are some of the sessions I enjoyed. I’ve broken them up into categories to separate the ones that focus on Adobe product techniques as well as general creativity and business-oriented topics.
Agency and Marketing Sessions
Teaching What You Know and Making a Living Doing What You Love
3 Ways to Build a Remote Creative Team Tailored to Today’s Work
The Business of Design: Reinventing an Icon
Rebranding and Outreach for Recreation.gov
Art and Creativity Sessions
Creative Luminary: Tattoo artist Scott Campbell
How to Find Your Creative Voice Without Overthinking It
Creativity Isn’t a Talent — It’s a Skill You Can Learn
Creative Luminary: Illustrator Charlie Davis
Make an Animated Model of NASA’s Origami Spacecraft Flasher
Design and Adobe Product Sessions
Adding Motion to Your Toolkit: The Basics of Motion Design
Advanced Layout and Prototyping Techniques in Adobe XD
Photoshop for Designers: Getting Speed and Consistency in Creative Campaigns
Illustrator Workflows Part 1: Approaches and Keys for Success
InDesign Type and Layout Part 1: Structure and Hierarchies
Overall it wouldn’t be an Adobe conference if we didn’t talk about the software itself. This year they launched Illustrator on the iPad and a host of updates to their mobile/iPad software. Their goal of creating a seamless ecosystem across all devices continues. I was a little disappointed to see so much effort being placed away from the desktop, where I get most of my work done. I do understand the approach though. Creativity is something that comes easier if we don’t lock ourselves to a physical space. Providing the opportunity to move away from the desk but still get work done is a compelling idea. I hope in the future it is less tied to a specific tool or OS though.
They also pushed their new digital painting software Fresco. Digital painters who use Adobe products have, and probably still will, use Photoshop even though it was never intended for such use. I was particularly excited to give it a try, but unfortunately it is only available on iPad.
Overall, the mobile-focus will likely provide creative opportunities for folks who are not professionals or just getting started and that is exciting. Adobe’s decision to provide most of their MAX content for free was also a greatly needed infusion of inspiration this year and I plan to continue to absorb what I can in the weeks to come. If creativity is your game, I recommend you do the same.