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Archive for April, 2013

The Magic Bullet of Web Gaming

There are plenty of reasons to come to MAX, and at the top of the list are the outstanding sessions led by the most innovative minds in the industry. This year at Adobe MAX, don’t miss legend Richard Hilleman, Chief Creative Director at Electronic Arts and his session  The Magic Bullet of Web Gaming where he talks about the importance of controller design for game play learning curves and how it affects a audience size of a game.  He’ll also explore the links between positive reinforcement in a game and a games audience size with emerging innovations in various platform technologies. See our latest Q&A with Richard here.

Join Adobe evangelist Andy Hall and Enrique Duvos as they talk about how game developers and publishers around the world push the limits of what’s possible on the web and on mobile devices with Adobe Game Developer Tools during their session “Best of the Best:  International Flash Games Showcase

Learn more about the game developer session

Register Now: https://www.adobe-max.com/portal/newreg.ww?trackingid=KDCBO

10:59 AM Permalink

Q&A with Adobe MAX Speaker Denise Jacobs

denise-jacobsAdobe MAX -The Creativity Conference, is less than a week away! While you’re planning your sessions at MAX, be sure to add Denise Jacobs to your schedule. She’s the ultimate modern creative web speaker, an expert on both CSS, web design and all things creative. With publications such as The CSS Detective Guide to her most recent work on creativity, we can’t wait to hear Denise speak on “The Importance of Storytelling in Web Design” and “Unfolding Your Brain: Catapult Your Creative Productivity” at Adobe MAX next week. So dive in and get to know Denise a little better in the below Q&A, she’s pretty amazing!

Adobe: You’ve recently announced that just delivered your last article on front-end development: no more CSS for Denise. Could you expand on this professional transition you’ve undertaken?

Denise Jacobs: This transition has been a long time in the making, but my efforts over the past 2 years have finally come to fruition. Right after I finished my book, The CSS Detective Guide, in later February of 2010, I had a major epiphany that what I truly wanted to focus my work on is around creativity. It was at that time that I came up with the title “Creativity Evangelist” (and promptly bought the domain). However, my plan was also to really get established as a speaker at web design conferences, and the topics in my book were a perfect vehicle for that. Once I started to become known as a speaker, then I started shifting my content more towards my true area of interest: Creativity. So, while it looks like somewhat of a dramatic change, for me, that has been the goal all along.

One of your talks focuses on the “The Importance of Storytelling in Web Design,” this is a ideal topic for Adobe MAX. We love your focus on reverse engineering a project to come up with the story that the website or app needs to tell. Do you find web designers often overlook the storytelling framework when approaching a project?

Absolutely. I think Storytelling is a lot like Accessibility still is and User Experience Design used to be: something that is tacked on to the end of the project in the mad rush to just get the thing built. But also like Accessibility and UX, if Storytelling is to be incorporated into a project, it really needs to be done from the start. I truly believe that it gives projects and finished products more depth and richness.

The Importance of Storytelling seems to dove-tail with Content-First framework often heard in Responsive Web Design discussions. How do think Story-telling and Narrative can specifically help web designers going down the Responsive Web Design route?

One of the things I will talk about in the presentation is how Storytelling in web design can be incorporated on the visual, content, and ux levels. From a responsive standpoint, Storytelling will inform the design visually, which means that how the site will change visually when it responds will be richer. I also fell that Storytelling can help you understand your audience better and their needs, which will then inform how you structure your responsiveness on a technical level as well.

Your other MAX session, “Unfolding Your Brain: Catapult Your Creative Productivity” delves into the fascinating neuroscience of creativity itself. What has surprised you the most as you delve into the literature?

One of the things that has surprised me most and that I am now the most fervent about is how at odds current work culture is with nurturing creativity. Working long hours and weekends, meetings, micromanagers, cubicles, multitasking, and working in isolation all are the enemies of creativity and innovation. And yet, they have become the standard of corporate work culture.

Fortunately, there are more and more forward-thinking companies are working to change this by structuring offices that encourage creativity and playfulness, innovation, and flexible work schedules and other methods. My goal is to be an additional force of driving this change forward   by working with more teams and companies with even more suggestions and practices for supporting and fomenting creativity and innovation.

To give people a taste of your talk, what two tips can you give the modern web professionals to unleash their creativity?

The first one is to single-task instead of multitask. I’ll reveal my secrets for that in the talk. The second is to find others to generate creative synergy instead of constantly trying to work by yourself and holding all of your ideas close to your chest instead of sharing them with others.

And what would you recommend to a starting-out web designer?

One thing is know that you can’t know everything. Things are coming out new all of the time and it can become overwhelming to try to be on top of all of it. My strongest encouragement is to keep following your deep interests, even if they don’t seem related — you never know where it will take you. Just look at Steve Jobs’ commencement speech to the Stanford graduating class. It’s a great testimony to what following your interests can do for a person.

Your talk seems focused on some very practical tips and insights. What’s surprised you as you’ve implemented these ideas into your own creative life?

What has surprised me is how many creative ideas I have. There was a point in time in my life where I wondered if I was a creative person and if my ideas were “any good.” These days, it seems that once I acknowledged my creativity and started initiating practices to encourage it, ideas flow constantly. It’s a good problem to have!

So, we have to ask: what would you say is the most pressing obstacle to creativity that needs to be dismantled?

Ah, you want me to reveal my secrets! Right now, I would say that the most pressing obstacle to creativity is fear. Fear inhibits the flow of creative impulses in the brain and keeps you stuck in place with no neurological juice to feed the creative flow.

Thanks so much for taking the time for answering these interview questions. Any final jokes or humor to share with your fellow creatives?

Thank *you* for the interview! Any jokes or humor? I can’t think of any that would be appropriate to share! However, I will share two of my favorite Flash mob dances: Liverpool Station, and Can’t Touch This, and a website that I created about the dangers of spontaneous dancing. Enjoy!

Thinking about attending Adobe MAX to hear Denise speak? Register now and don’t forget to use promo code MXSM13 during registration for $300 off!

10:19 AM Permalink

Q&A With Adobe MAX Speaker Richard Hilleman of Electronic Arts

Richard_HillemanWhen you think of creativity and gaming, Richard Hilleman is a name on the top of any list. He’s an American computer game and video game producer best known for his work creating the original Madden Football game for video game consoles for Electronic Arts. Today, Rich Hilleman works for Electronic Arts as Chief Creative Officer, and currently works in the internal University at Electronic Arts on specialized education for Producers and Development Directors. We are excited for Richard to speak on “The Magic Bullet of Web Gaming” at Adobe MAX, sharing his unique insider knowledge covering over 30 years in the industry. Check out our Q&A with him below to get a better sense of how Richard came into his great gaming success.

Adobe: As a kid what did you want to be when you grew up and did you ever imagine that you would be making video games that are so ingrained in American culture? 

Richard Hilleman: Videogames showed up for me in High School.  My exposure was more to computers.  I was lucky enough to get to spend time on computers at a very early age in a very early time.  I was pretty sure computers would change the world, but not in the ways I have seen.  How quickly computers have become situationally aware has been a big surprise.

How did you get started in gaming?  Was it be accident or by design? 

It depends on what you call games.  Unlike a lot of people in my industry, I played sports, and my grandfather raced cars.  We played a lot of board games, and I took Chess very seriously.  I never really got the war game or D&D bug, and my interest in Videogames was mostly centered on simulations.  When I came to Electronic Arts, I came to focus on computer science.  Over a couple of years, I discovered I was pretty good at game design and production.  Probably because I wasn’t making games for just myself.

Obviously the tools you use to create games are different from when you first started but is there something about game creation that hasn’t changed? 

People.  The most surprising thing about the last thirty years is how much people’s taste and interest has endured.  I talk all the time with kids in school for our business, and the most important advice I give them is to fall in love with people, not machines.  The technology moves so fast, that educational investments in specific tech almost always has less short term value than you think.  By comparison, understanding people, and the culture they occupy, will transcend the technology and give you a lifetime of returns.

What keeps you up at night or what drives you to keep making games? 

Mostly my kids.  I have been lucky enough to spend most of my career at the bleeding edge.  I still can’t wait for the future and what we can do next.

To be successful sometimes you need to fail.  Can you recall a project you worked on that did not turn out as planned and what did you learn from that process? 

I think I have failed a lot.  I remember a few years ago there was an Edge magazine article about the 500 best Videogames of all time, and the Worse 100.  I had enough entries in both lists to keep me humble.  Most of the time, when things go wrong, it was because something I knew was a risk, didn’t work out. Usually, it reminds me about taking appropriate and balanced risk. There are a far number of happy accidents, including some of my most successful titles.

What’s the best part of your job? 

The kids that are doing the job for the first time.  They reinvigorate me every day.

You grew up playing hockey so is that your favorite sport?  What’s your favorite team? 

Hockey is one of my favorites, and I still play it.  I also played a lot of Baseball  (Hockey and Baseball are perfect season compliments), and I love motor sports.  I grew up a North Star and Twins fan, and then the NStars moved.  I have been a Sharks season ticket holder since they were founded, and I had Giants Season tickets for a decade.

If you could start over again, what sport would you like to try or master and why? 

Might have started motorsports earlier.  Might have tried harder at Golf.  I think I made pretty good choices.

Do you play any non-sports related video games? Which ones or do you go old school and play board games? 

I play everything.  I truly love Chess.  I still think it is the best game ever invented, and I find the games of Morphy, Fischer and Kasporov to be as interesting and wonderful as any game I have ever made.

This will be your first time attending Adobe MAX as a speaker or attendee.  Can you tell us what inspired you to talk about this particular topic at MAX?

I think I wanted to talk about how different game play expectations are inherited from the platform and gaming context, and how those expectations are increasingly a part of the design of Mobile and Web games.  We have a lot of new customers on new platforms.  Getting these experiences to match their expectations will decide how long we keep these new players.

Is gaming your thing? If so, it’s not too late to register for Adobe MAX to attend Richard’s session titled, “The Magic Bullet of Gaming” and so much more. Don’t forget to use promo code MXSM13 during registration for $300 off!

4:41 PM Permalink

Creative Spotlight: McFarland & Pecci on Creative Cloud

Twisted, dark and awesome. Three words that describe the work of the creative team and visual artists that make up McFarland & Pecci. Still relatively new Creative Cloud members, these fellas have wasted no time utilizing the broad range of tools and programs to create one-of-a-kind work. A documentary film for well-known “metal core” band, Killswitch Engage? They’ve done it. High concept cover art for the Boston Phoenix? Sure. See what we mean about twisted, dark and awesome?

We engaged in a lightning round Q&A session with them to get more details on why Creative Cloud works for them. The diverse amount of products offered, the seamless syncing, constant updates, and bug fixes are just a few reasons why this duo takes creativity to a whole new level.

Adobe: Describe a project you are currently working on or have completed with Creative Cloud.

McFarland & Pecci: We signed up for Creative Cloud a few months ago and jumped right into a few projects with Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop. McFarland & Pecci is a creative team of directors and visual artists. We create everything from high concept photo shoots to feature films and documentaries. The past few months have kept us busy in post-production on the new Killswitch Engage documentary called “New Awakening”, the new music video for CZARFACE featuring Inspectah Deck from Wu-Tang, one of the final high concept covers for the Boston Phoenix, and an upcoming “double secret” comic book film.

What was your inspiration behind the project?

We love to tell stories, and we tend to be drawn to darker subject matter and artists that are obsessed with their craft.  The film on Killswitch Engage was a fun project that allowed us to focus on the guys as a family unit and we kept our gear tight and our crew small. The CZARFACE video is deeply rooted in our love for Grindhouse flicks and Shaw Brothers films, and the ‘End of the World’ photo shoot was completely influenced by the epic magic of Michael Bay!

How has the Creative Cloud changed your creative workflow?

We switched to Premiere Pro to simplify our workflow. Plain and simple. We shot CZARFACE with the RED EPIC in 5K with Hawk anamorphic lenses.  The piece required a lot of compositing in After Effects and color grading. The fact that I could bring the raw files right into my timeline and directly export to After Effects made our lives so much easier. A competitor’s program has really dropped the ball when it comes to professional editing these days so we were looking for a smart move. Just the time saved by not having to transcode footage from the RED and/or DSLRs was enough of a reason to make the jump to Premiere Pro.

What tools specific to Creative Cloud enable you to work more efficiently?

As mentioned earlier, all the new benefits of Premier Pro were our big draw in the video side of things, but the new version of Photoshop and its retouching tools and amazing smart layers really helped us composite these giant “End of the World” files. We have always been Adobe fans in one way or another, but having it all in one spot really helps us.  The cloud helps us keep both systems identical in our edit bays, and the constant updates have fixed a lot of software bugs already.

Describe your style of work in three words

Really F$#Kin Awesome!

Fill in the blank: I couldn’t create without _________.

Our twisted minds and the tools that can keep up with them.

What advice would you give to an individual who is considering Creative Cloud?

If you are a video editor, make the jump to Premier Pro.  Just do it. Creative Cloud is the smart choice; you sign up and download everything you need. It even runs on two systems. Makes having a post house a lot easier.

Dig their work? Check out Mcfarland & Pecci on Facebook, visit our website to see more films – www.mcfarlandandpecci.com – or follow directors @MikePecci and @Ian_McFarland on Twitter for behind the scenes content and tutorials.

10:38 AM Permalink

Adobe MAX Attendees: Are You The Biggest Fan of The Black Keys?

BlackKeysWe’re getting very excited for Adobe MAX! One of the many highlights of the week will be hearing multiple-Grammy winning band The Black Keys play live at our MAX Bash. To commemorate the occasion, artist Brian Yap has designed a special poster for the Bash. If you’re going to be at MAX, you can win a copy!

Here’s how:

Between April 22 (that’s today!) and April 28, send a Tweet with the hashtag #AdobeMAX and the reason why you’re the biggest fan of The Black Keys.

We’ll select winners at random from all those submitted, and you’ll be able to pick up your poster (signed by Brian Yap) at MAX. For full details, check out our MAX Tweetaway Sweepstakes Official Rules.

Let your inner fandom shine out and share The Black Keys love!

If you haven’t register for MAX yet, use promo code MXSM13 to save $300. We’ll see you at MAX!

10:42 AM Permalink

Adobe MAX Speaker Stephen Gates of Starwood Hotels Talks Adobe Edge Inspect

phones1Stephen Gates, Vice President and Creative Director for Global Brand Design at Starwood Hotels & Resorts will be joining us at Adobe MAX this year to share design and development secrets behind building Starwood’s mobile roadmap. Prior to MAX, he sat down with our Adobe Edge Inspect team to discuss how the tool has been helping his team come up with new ways to best show off their nine hotel brands. They’ve managed to accelerate their production and gain buy-in from a dispersed global team of designers, developers, strategists and stakeholders. Pretty impressive, right? Learn more about their success and get to know Stephen in our Adobe Edge Inspect Team Blog Q&A.

Want to hear more from Stephen Gates? Attend Adobe MAX and hear him talk about the “Secrets to Creating a Successful Mobile Roadmap, Apps, and Mobile Websites.” Don’t forget to enter promo code MXSM13 when you register to receive $300 off.

1:33 PM Permalink

Adobe MAX Speaker Aaron Draplin – Q&A Part II

“You can expect a spirited, ferocious delivery of our “Tall Tales” speaking fiasco! With, some surprises….” says Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. on what to expect at his Adobe MAX session this year in our Twitter Chat with him. During the Twitter Chat, many had their burning design questions answered by Aaron, while others were just excited to connect with the brilliant creative. We want to give a big thanks to those who participated – especially Aaron! Check out a quick sample of the Twitter conversation using the #AdobeMAX hashtag below.

 

Watch our video to learn more about Aaron Draplin’s love for junking and estate sales, and read Part II of our Q&A with him below.

Be sure to come see Aaron Draplin speak at MAX this year in his session, “Tall Tales from A Large Man”. Visit MAX.Adobe.com and don’t forget to use promo code MXSM13 when you register and save $300.

Here’s Part II from our Q&A with the “Large Man” himself:

Adobe: When you were first starting out, what’s the biggest mistake you can remember making? 

Aaron Draplin: Thinking I’d need some big degree to make it. Complete bullshit. As much as I loved going to art school and learning as much as I did, I’m pretty sure I could’ve made it on my own. I caved in to the pressure system. I thought I’d get called out for teaching myself or something. And sure, school was awesome, but man, I paid a lot for those couple of years.

How (and at what times) does a typical day start and end for you?

I’m usually out of bed by 9:00am, getting down to the shop and getting going by 10:00. And hell, I hate going to get lunch, cuz you lose an hour. I’ll work until 7:00 or 8:00pm (sometimes later), then I head home for supper, and will get the late shift going around 9:00pm—until 1:00am. I end my day by going to sleep, which is a pretty common theme.

Things you love? Or things you hate? Which influence your work more?

Things I love definitely influence the way I work, and the outcome. And I know it’s not cool to hate stuff, but hell, I’ve got some bad blood with some stuff and am not afraid to say it, and, let it fuel me to make better things. My buddy Ryno in Minneapolis made a list, and inspired by his vitriol, I did too. Here are some spirited links: Things I Love and Things I Hate.

about how to make things better, instead of selfishly tearing them down. I loved that part of school. Thank you Santiago and Kali.

If you could choose just one artist (use that term as loosely as you wish) to “surround” yourself with, who would it be? Why?

I would’ve loved to work for Saul Bass. He’s my favorite graphic designer.

Since most people will never have the opportunity to participate creatively with the Obama administration, can you tell us (in more words than “awesome”) how you felt when you learned you were getting THAT assignment?

When the Mode Project from Chicago first called me, I thought I was in trouble or something. I mean, a call like that is going to be really, really good or really, really scary. When they offered the chance to work on a logo to help the new Obama administration, I instantly accepted, cleaned off my plate and got down to it. When they call you up to the big leagues, you produce. For your country. Seriously, my heart was filled with patriotism. The chance to help out in the slightest way was a big deal to me. I freaked out a bit, then got down to work with Chris Glass from Cincinnati and we made some logos for America. Will forever be proud of that one.

And, now that you’ve completed that one… what’s your (next) “dream” project? 

I’m scheming up some kind of road trip for the fall, but have to keep my lips sealed about the details. But when I really think about it, I dream about getting enough loot in the bank to where I can slow down my pace, go explore the earth a bit more and mellow everything out some. I’ve been running pretty hot these last bunch of years, so I daydream about downshifting things in a creative way. No real specific plan comes to mind, hence why I continue to charge as hard as I do. Oh well. If I could pick something out of the air…I sure would love to design a record for the Flaming Lips. Break me off a little piece, George

12:45 PM Permalink

The Changing Web Platform Landscape: More Fragmentation?

The Web is an ever changing place and the first half of the year has been rich in surprises, big announcements and industry shifts! A diversity of implementations is good for many reasons we will discuss. But a more fragmented web could be the price to pay. Will it be the case?

About Implementation diversity

A few weeks ago Opera announced they were stopping work on their Presto rendering engine and switching to Chromium. They have already started contributing code to the project. Then, earlier this month, Google announced the Blink project, essentially a new fork of WebKit. And now Opera announced they will contribute to Blink!

Reactions were interesting as we went from WebKit monopoly concerns to worries about web platform fragmentation in a matter of weeks. Quite a 180 degrees turn!

At Adobe, we actively contribute to Web standards and browser implementations (historically mostly WebKit and Chromium, even though we also make some contributions to Gecko). As such we are delighted to see Opera join one of the projects we contribute to. Their considerable web expertise will undoubtedly be an asset.

There was some debate before the Blink announcement about whether or not we were heading for a WebKit monoculture: a web where content can be written with the assumption a WebKit-based engine is most likely to render it. While WebKit browsers share much core layout code they also differ in many ways at runtime: different JavaScript engines and graphics libraries, even different sets of features enabled by default. This makes it difficult in practice to write once for WebKit and run everywhere.

So we were not too concerned about a WebKit monoculture. But…

… there was a but in that view. The web is bigger than any one of its leading browser implementations and too important to be limited to a single code base even if that implementation has variations. The web is even growing to be an OS platform (e.g., ChromeOS, FirefoxOS, the new Windows Runtime), the core technology behind packaged applications (like PhoneGap applications). And ongoing innovation across HTML, JavaScript (in the TC-39 group at ECMA) and CSS needs validation, testing, consolidation.

As Brendan Eich says in his blog about “why Mozilla matters”:

“The web needs multiple implementations of its evolving standards to keep them interoperable.”

I believe this tenet to be central to delivering on the promise of the Open Web. A single implementation does not establish a standard. The W3C process even recommends two implementations in order for a specification to reach completion.

The Web needs Mozilla’s Gecko and Microsoft’s Trident engines to nurture an open, innovative environment. Historically, both companies have done a lot for the Web  - think of XHR which Microsoft invented (among other key contributions) or WOFF from Mozilla –  and they continue to innovate:  Microsoft and Mozilla co-edit the CSS Grid specification, which provides much needed and improved layout flexibility to CSS.

I trust that the addition of Blink will strengthen an already healthy browser competition. Over time, the Blink code base will diverge from WebKit’s but no harm to the web occurs if both engines implement the same features in different ways. Only significantly different feature sets could result in harmful fragmentation. Making sure that WebKit, Blink and other browser engines interoperate is more important than it has ever been.

About testing, fragmentation and experimental features

As the founders of Test the Web Forward, we have come to appreciate the mutually reinforcing benefits multiple independent implementations bring to standards. Historically, testing has been key to the success of web standards. For example, the focused testing effort on CSS 2.1 has shaped that specification and its implementations in the corner stone CSS has become. A single implementation would leave a lot of stones unturned.

It should also be noted that the Blink policy regarding prefixes is really good for standards and compatibility across browsers:  draft standard features can become truly experimental features that will not be used (and abused) in production. This should help avoid browser compatibility headaches down the line and I hope this example will be followed by all browsers.

About fragmentation and Adobe’s contributions

In this new web platform landscape, what about Adobe’s contributions to open source browsers? What impact does additional browser fragmentation has on Adobe’s efforts?

Adobe contributes to standards in open browser implementations for many reasons.

One of them is that our new generation Edge tools use a ‘web design surface’. For well over a year now, we have chosen to use the Chromium Embeded Framework (CEF) to provide this ‘web design surface’. So naturally, we will contribute to Blink since it is now the core engine that powers CEF.

Another reason for contributing to open browsers is to accelerate the availability of new features on the web. This is why we collaborate with Mozilla on a number of standards and contribute code to Gecko (like this patch on masking for canvas). And this is why we will also contribute to WebKit, in addition to Blink, now that the two are separate projects.

An open, innovative and tested web!

So yes, I think it is good to have multiple browser engines and Blink is a welcome addition to the web platform landscape. It is bringing a healthy diversity that I hope will help keep the web open and foster innovation as long as all browsers strive to implement ‘the same web’.

And this is where testing efforts are key to achieving diversity without fragmentation. I hope testing activities (of browser code of course, but of standard test suites as well and major initiatives that the W3C is driving) will be a major focus for all the browser vendors going forward, in particular for Google with its new Blink implementation.

12:53 PM Permalink

Q&A with Adobe MAX Speaker karlssonwilker

Fearless and wildly creative design duo Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker—also known as karlssonwilker—are an independent and internationally-recognized creative force. When we met them, we were so charmed that we immediately wanted to introduce them to you, so we asked them to speak at Adobe MAX this year! Karlsson and Wilker’s topic, “Creativity, Technology, and karlssonwilker” speaks to their commitment, passion and creativity, as well as the equal importance they place on technology and play in their work.

Attend MAX. Attend their session. You’ll leave inspired. In the meantime, enjoy this candid Q&A (and their reinterpretation of the MAX logo) from these imaginative designers.

karlssonwilker

Adobe: You and Hjalti founded karlssonwilker in 2000, after working for Stefan Sagmeister, what was his advice to you when you told him you were opening your own studio?

karlssonwilker: There was no particular parting advice, although we surely asked him for advise many times, and still do from time to time. Back then it felt like a very natural transition. Stefan went on his sabbatical and so the two of us started, or were forced to start, our own “thing.” I remember the two of us showing Stefan the office space we were thinking about renting, and him saying it’s a great deal and that we should definitely take it. (We still are in the same space today.) The biggest thing, for me personally, was that he showed us—and everyone else—that a studio small in size could make hugely influential and relevant work, something quite uncommon back then. 

As if opening a new studio during a recession wasn’t enough, you decided to write a book (tellmewhy: The First 24 Months of a New York Design Company) about those first two years in business. Why did you take that on at that time?

One part was frustration about our unpreparedness regarding the business side of our new enterprise. The other was the need we felt, at the time, for more honesty in the arena of shiny design monographs. The simple story of the humble beginnings of a studio should be told, not the idealized and romanticized look back on 20 years of a successful design career, where everyone seemed to be born a genius. That’s what we did and to this day we still get emails from around the world thanking us for doing this candid book and helping designers around the world not feel they are alone in being ill-prepared to properly run a studio right from the start. And of course Princeton Architectural Press deserves huge credit of course for working on it with us, as does Clare Jacobson for writing it so fantastically. 

Your book offers a not-always-glamorous view of owning a design studio; do you think it’s important for students and young designers to know that the path to success is not always rosy?

Yes, of course. Its important to make clear that failing is part of the “fun” and an important part of the learning. Somehow this book led by example: if Hjalti and I can do it, anyone can. And that seemed to be empowering to many. 

If tomorrow, you could no longer be a designer, what would you choose to do?

I would be a shoemaker.  Hjalti would run a little store, or be “in real estate.”

Has Adobe’s Creative Cloud changed/altered your work and your process?

Adobe products have always had a huge influence on us and there are many examples in our work. One of our design approaches is rooted in play and experimentation; very early on we used Illustrator’s tools and filters to explore dense vector drawings, by spending lots of time with it to see where it would lead us (projects like Hattler, Skirl and, later, Mini/BMW). Also, the MAX key art we created for this year’s conference comes from formal experimentation with three or four different programs. 

What do you most hope to be able to say about your work and your partnership 20 years from now?

Jan: That we constantly evolved, enjoyed life, and produced relevant work that inspired some to push harder. 

Hjalti: That I’m still very proud of the work we did, that Jan and I are still on speaking terms and, who knows, that the company is still going strong in 20 years, with the two of us working two days a week and an army of people doing all the work.

You and Hjalti have both been design judges… Do you feel that the work submitted to design competitions encapsulates what’s going on in the industry at the time?

For me, that’s a clear no. It might have been that way many years ago, but nowadays competitions are indicators of who wants to appeal to the commercial mainstream. The design world is more colorful now, and only a small fraction wants or needs to be represented in design annuals. We ourselves stopped sending things in about eight years ago. 

For your eleventh anniversary party you created a poster acknowledging all of the karlsssonwilker interns you’ve had over the years. How many were mentioned? And how many have been inspired, by working with you, to open their own studios?

We mentioned every single one of them—almost 40 interns have come through our little studio. About fifteen of them started their own studios more or less right after their time with us (I’m not sure that we inspired them to do that, I think they already came to us with that plan in mind).

Talent? Passion? Or education? Which is most important? Why?

Passion. For sure. A genuine interest in what you do is really all that matters. 

We just saw your version of the new MAX logo on the MAX website. Was executing a logo redesign easier or harder than beginning from scratch?

We didn’t see it as logo redesign, but as a demonstration of “creativity,” with the MAX logo incorporated into it. 

Be sure to come see karlssonwilker at Adobe MAX this year! Register at MAX.Adobe.com with promo code MXSM13 and save $300!

10:09 AM Permalink

Adobe MAX Speaker Aaron Draplin: Twitter Chat and Q&A Part I

Founder and mastermind behind the work and creative direction of Draplin Design Co., Aaron Draplin, will be speaking at Adobe MAX 2013 next month and we’re very excited to have him!

Prior to Adobe MAX, we wanted to give you an opportunity to ask him some questions, which is why we’re hosting a Twitter Chat with Aaron (@Draplin) on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 10AM PST (1PM EST). Follow our Adobe MAX Twitter channel (@AdobeMAX) for updates, and be sure to ask your questions then using the #AdobeMAX hashtag.

To get an inside look at Aaron, watch our video interview with him as he discusses his love for the creativity of signs on a #$%*! mini-tour of Portland, plus more in Part I of our Q&A with him.

Adobe: We’ve seen the memo book archive you’re building. Do you have a favorite? If not a (single) favorite, a favorite theme (or type)?

Aaron Draplin: There are just too many to pick from, but I do have a fondness for the ugly duckling stuff. Some are lavish, some are trying a little too hard and some, hell, just do the job and exist for their purpose. I love that sort of unpretentious singularity. Pure functionality is a beautiful thing. 

Field Notes. Why 48 pages?

Thirty-six seemed too few, and 60 seemed a little bit too big. We split the difference. Plus, the “thickness” came into play. Forty-eight pages is a lot of real estate, yet still feels good in your hands. We’ve got your best interests scientifically considered, people. Trust us.

Where/when did the relationship between you and Coudal Partners begin?

I was a fan and reached out with some email slathering Jim with niceties, and he slathered right back. The next time I whipped through Chicago I stopped for a handshake. That would’ve been in early 2004. Buddies ever since. Thank you for so much, Jim!

You’re speaking at MAX (frankly, we can’t wait). Does your speaking topic “Tall Tales from A Large Man,” provide a lot of latitude… That is, can you change course if you come up with an idea just before you step on stage?

It depends on the crowd. If I recognize some faces before the gig, I’ll mix stuff up a bit. Otherwise, I stick to my presentation, and tell my whole story the best way I can. If people are into it, I’ll offer up a lot of side stories, but if they are stone-faced, I’ll whip through the stuff. Rarely, are they stone-faced. Every now and again someone will be sitting there, as still as the dead. That shit freaks me out. I mean, are they human?

What about Adobe made you decide to say “yes” when we invited you to speak at MAX?

I’ve been speaking at a lot of Interactive conferences and, frankly, I often find myself not knowing a damn thing about the coding stuff they’re talking about. It’s a different language. The idea that a bunch of Adobe nerds would be in one place? My kind of party! I live off this stuff and am super interested in seeing what kind of people show up for it. I mean, I hope to learn knew ways to use my programs, you know? So, I’m going as a fan, and as someone tasked with telling his story to the crowd. And I promise to LAY WASTE to all in attendance. You’ve been warned.

What’s the one skill you learned in design school that you would encourage young designers to hone?

Learn how to talk about the work. Don’t indulge in “liking” things or “unliking” things. Hold stuff to the criteria of whether or not the solution is successful for the problem at hand. Liking stuff is a little too subjective. Did it solve the problem? Is it as good as it could be? Did you get it done on time? Design school taught me how to be diplomatic when discussing work, and how to be constructive about how to make things better, instead of selfishly tearing them down. I loved that part of school. Thank you Santiago and Kali.

Come see Aaron Draplin speak in his session at Adobe MAX this year, “Tall Tales from A Large Man”. Visit MAX.Adobe.com and be sure to use promo code MXSM13 when you register and save $300.

Also, join our Adobe MAX Twitter Sweepstakes from April 10–16, 2013. Use the hashtag #AdobeMAX for a chance to win some great prizes! Read the Adobe MAX Tweetaway Sweepstakes Official Rules for more details.

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