Learning to Fly

Adobe equips today’s students with the tools they need for self-expression—and for job hunting in a competitive world

Adobe’s belief in the power of education runs deep. But the company doesn’t just talk about it; Adobe backs up its commitment to students everywhere with dollars, time, and effort.

For example, the Adobe Youth Voices program has given nearly 100,000 students around the world an education in creative technology and an outlet for expression about their lives. The Adobe Foundation has a USD1M scholarship fund to help youth worldwide pursue creative careers. The education team donates millions of dollars of software to schools every year. And that’s just the beginning.

“We want to make a difference in education,” says AnnMarie B., senior manager of student campaigns at Adobe. “We want students from all disciplines to understand that creativity will help further their careers, whether they’re designers or scientists. In this world, creativity is no longer an elective. It has to be part of your worldview if you want to be successful.”

Here are four students who recently participated in Adobe campaigns designed to shine a light on student work. In the process, they made new connections, gained important exposure for their work, and—in some cases—even found the jobs they were looking for.

Amy L.

One late night, 19-year-old Amy L. was surfing the web from her U.K. home when she came across a submission form on Adobe’s website. It was a call for illustrations—and Amy had a lot of illustrations. She had always doodled for fun and even made some good money selling her designs on Etsy.

So she submitted an illustration and didn’t think anything more of it—until she got a response a few months later. Adobe was going to include her artwork in a special-edition Moleskine notebook featuring the work of exceptional student artists around the world.

“It was a genuine shock,” Amy says. “I thought, ‘Wow, they actually read that? And liked it?’”

The Adobe Moleskine project was a unique Adobe initiative to put students’ work in front of 150 top creative directors in the world. The journal is a typical Moleskine in some ways—full of blank pages for note-taking—but the blank pages are interspersed with each student’s artwork, name, school, and a link to their personal portfolio on Adobe’s Behance website.

This has given me a sense of pride and really picked me up. It was nice to get my work out there and realize that maybe I’m actually good at this.

Amy says she remembers the day her copy arrived in the mail.

“I found the page where I was featured, and I had an overwhelming sense of self-confidence and belief in myself,” Amy says. “It was lovely.”

Amy hopes to continue developing her skills using Illustrator and Photoshop and to parlay them into a career in design. Since being featured in the Moleskine, she says she has noticed an increase in followers on her blogs.

Michael C.
Industrial designer

After two tours as a Marine in Iraq, Michael C. left the military in 2007. He knew he wanted something different.

I wanted to change my life pursuit from something structured with a ceiling to something a little more open-ended. I wanted to pursue creativity rather than destruction.

Still, he had gained a lot of technical knowledge and skill as a jet engine mechanic. And he had always been fascinated with vehicles. So he decided to pursue industrial design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He mastered Illustrator and Photoshop and took internships with major automotive manufacturers. He knew he had found his passion in designing the vehicles of the future.

On the advice of a professor, Michael submitted work to Adobe’s #madethis campaign, in which Adobe produces videos that showcase the things students create with Adobe Creative Cloud software. He submitted a four-page PDF that told an all-visual story of his life and career. Adobe was sold.

Since his video went live, Michael says he has made more connections in the design world—especially through his Behance online portfolio—and gotten a job with Ford.

“On Behance, we all inspire each other,” Michael says. “I’ve found work for other friends on Behance when I can’t take on new work. The fact that I’m able to help others through that is more powerful to me than recognition.”

Nika T.
Fashion designer

Before Nika T. attended Academy of Arts University, she studied computer programming. But after starting her studies in fashion design, she decided to travel internationally to learn the craft with different designers. She studied with fashion designers such as Anthony Vaccarello, Mathew Ames, and Lea Peckre, and .she also studied with local designers who gave her the foundation to appreciate traditional art and techniques.

Nika learned macramé from a family member, and Academy of Art instructors taught her how to translate this traditional textile-making technique into fashion pieces that would resonate with an international audience. She even presented her full Spring/Summer 2014 collection, based on macramé, at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). 

I’m working with both hand illustrations and graphics for my next collections. Most of my work has a textile emphasis and I work with Photoshop and Illustrator on a continued basis. Adobe tools are essential.

At NYFW, Nika got the chance to record the experience in a video with Adobe’s #madethis campaign. It might sound surprising that she does much of her work in Illustrator and Photoshop before she ever cuts the first piece of fabric, but Adobe Creative Cloud enables her to better plan out her line and put a contemporary spin on her creations. 

The chance to be featured in a high-profile Adobe campaign has helped Nika’s job hunt as she prepares to enter the workforce as a graduate of Academy of Arts University

“I think it’s really important to have a video presence. If I’m trying to get hired in New York, a company can go to my site and see my videos and see how I work,” she says. “The video was also helpful because it showed the process behind the collection.”

Jesse W.
Music composer

Ever since Jesse W. was a kid, he has been captivated by music. He was particularly drawn to the way music could be paired with a visual to create an effect more powerful than either element could by itself. So it’s no surprise that he ended up a music composer.

“It’s been my passion since I was a kid—to create music for film.”

Today, from his base in Sydney, Jesse records multiple instruments and composes across genres for commercials, films, promotional videos, and music videos. He uses Adobe Audition to make his audio screen-ready, and he showcases his work on a website created with Adobe Muse.

As part of the #madethis campaign, Jesse shared how he uses Adobe Creative Cloud to do his work.

Creative Cloud allows me to not only have a range of creative applications on my desktop for my artistic endeavors, but if I’m working in a café I can download any application I want and start working there, and then bring it back to my desktop and it’s automatically synced through the cloud.

The video that Adobe made has given Jesse some great exposure. He incorporated it into his resume and got a job monitoring audio for big corporate functions. And because it’s part-time work, he can still devote much of his time to growing his freelance business and booking more composition gigs after graduation from the Australian Institute of Music.

He says he hopes his work will inspire creativity in others, too.

“Every human being has a universe of creative possibilities waiting to be explored.”