Adobe Systems Incorporated

Innovating Innovation: A Formula for Success

If you look at a group of people who are creative for a living, you might see a room full of people goofing off, playing with toys, or staring into space, looking like they’re doing nothing at all. Then, you’ll immediately think, “Wow, I need to get a job like that.”

As the director of marketing, for the Creative Cloud Mobile division, I can promise you that we really are working. That’s what I say to my boss every time he walks past a room full of people staring at the wall. It’s all part of the process. I can’t say that my boss entirely believes me.

In fact, he decided to challenge me. He asked me to create a process for creativity. He wanted me to find a way to make innovation repeatable and predictable. He wanted it all delivered on the back of a unicorn.

Ok, so the unicorn part was made up, but the futility I felt when faced with that task wasn’t. After all, part of creativity is the ability to be spontaneous. How was I supposed to encourage creativity when I was trying to make everyone follow a paint-by-numbers process? Was I really being asked to innovate innovation?

As I sat down to write my letter of resignation, a sudden and ironic burst of spontaneous creativity came to me. While innovation might not be a process, there is a formula to it that anyone can use:

Innovation = f (passion * velocity * creativity * some array of variables) ^ risk

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This isn’t Beal’s Conjecture, so you can put away that calculator. If you want to make innovation repeatable, it’s not about specific actions you can take. It’s more of a matter of attitude. It’s what happens when the right product meets the right people at the right time. It’s understanding all of the moving parts that come into play to make that idea a reality.

Passion

Passion is a critical component for any innovation. If the team is not passionate about what they’re doing, they should be doing something else. Inventing is creating something new, but innovation changes the way we all look at a product. Inventing is creating that plastic thing at the end of a shoelace that makes it easier to lace your shoe (that’s an aglet, in case you’re curious). Innovating is turning the simple telephone into an iPhone, which changed the way we looked at communication entirely. Both are achieved through some desire to fill a need, but only passion can lead to true innovation.

Velocity

In math, velocity is the rate of speed at which something happens. Velocity in innovation is what overcomes all of the obstacles that get in the way. Velocity is what enables teams to “fail fast,” learn, and move on. And if you’re moving fast enough, you can share your ideas openly and benefit from customer feedback without being afraid of the competition stealing the idea and bringing a product to market sooner.

 Creativity

Organizations need to foster a creative mindset among their people in order to keep creativity spontaneous. It’s not enough to tell your people to “think outside of the box” and then send them back to their box-shaped cubicles. Creativity is a byproduct of curiosity, imagination, and knowledge. Every single person has the ability to be creative, but when their environment doesn’t foster creativity, they might as well be robots. Robots can do a lot of things. They can solve algorithms, they can build cars, they can even beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy. What they can’t do is innovate.

Even in an organization where people are expected to adhere to a specific process, there must be some amount of elasticity involved to inspire this creativity and improve on old ideas.

Variables

These variables might be within your control or outside of your control. Whether they’re changes in the market that might affect the need for your idea or internal company restrictions that might make it more difficult to bring an idea to life, all people who wish to change things need to accept the fact that there might be issues outside of their control that will change the end result. The important thing is to focus on what you can control and then identify what can’t be controlled without letting them become distractions.

Risk

Do you know the difference between a gambling addict and a professional gambler? Success. An addict will stick with a game even after they’ve lost everything to it. A pro knows nothing is certain, but if they don’t take the risk, they won’t reap the rewards.

All endeavors have some level of risk involved, and this risk can be especially high when you’re trying to innovate because you’re trying to change an established routine. People generally don’t like that, and shareholders may like it even less, but for companies to innovate, they need to embrace risk and reward risk takers. If the culture is too risk averse, all the company can do is maintain the status quo—the antithesis of innovation!

In this formula, everything is raised to the power of risk because without risk, there is no innovation. Without risk, you’d be reading this article in hieroglyphics on a cave wall. “Takes risks and is willing to fail” probably isn’t something you should write on your résumé, but it is an important part of how the world changes.

While it’s true that innovation can’t be planned, it can be inspired when organizations foster the right attitude in their people from the top down. By encouraging people to be creative, organizations can ensure that true innovation is a repeatable process, though it might not always be a predictable one.

11:43 AM Permalink

3D Printing: What You See Is What You Get

The second installment of I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015… And all I brought back is a series of blog posts, the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee.

Session 2: Moving from Graphic Design to 3D Object Design with Paul Trani

GraphicTo3D_1 Adobe evangelist Paul Trani is a designer. With an eagerness to exploit any technology he can get his hands on, he operates on the assumption that other designers feel similarly. Which is probably why he spent an hour showing a room full of design industry professionals how to make the jump to 3D printing with Adobe Photoshop CC—software that’s been in their creative arsenal all along.

The tools make it easy

Everyone in the creative industry has been called upon to function across design disciplines, to jump from technology to technology, to use programs and processes they’ve never used prior. Usually with built-in time constraints, those leaps require them to figure things out as they go and learn along the way. They manage, according one of Paul’s opening remarks, because “the fundamentals of design don’t really change it’s the technology behind them that changes.”

Therein lies the heart of his presentation: When it comes to 3D printing, designers don’t have to use unfamiliar software to get the job done.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Luxemburg.

Photo courtesy of Rachel Luxemburg.

A gateway to 3D

Adding 3D capabilities to Photoshop CC wasn’t an effort to rule the world of 3D (it will never replace 3ds Max or Cinema 4D Studio or Rhino3D); it was instead intended to help designers move from modeling to printing. To simplify bringing in files (.stl, .obj, .3ds) from other 3D programs, and to use for creative exploration: to look at something from all angles, move it around, create a light source, change its size, design its surface… then from there, print whatever’s on the screen.

Paul’s ultimate point was that Photoshop CC is an introduction. Designers wanting to get in on 3D printing, don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the process because the same software they’ve been using for years provides the fundamental features for effortlessly jumping in and out of it. It’s a platform for exploring the possibilities of 3D, without the headaches. And that’s more than enough.

My conclusion: Photoshop CC, with its fundamental features, and its familiar UI, make it the perfect gateway to 3D design and printing.

 
Read the wrap-up of Session 1: Revamping Adobe Photoshop CC for Screen Design with Zorana Gee and Charles Pearson

5:12 PM Permalink

An Update: Creative Cloud and Support for Mac OS X

We’re hard at work on the next major release of Creative Cloud, and wanted to share some information on updated operating system requirements for members using Mac OS X.

In order to take advantage of the latest operating system features and technologies, the next major release of Creative Cloud will require Mac OS X 10.9 or higher.

If you’re running an older version of Mac OS X, such as 10.7 or 10.8, you can continue to run and install current and previous versions of the Creative Cloud applications, but will not be able to install or run the next major release of the Creative Cloud desktop applications until you upgrade to a supported version of OS X. Apple provides a free update to the latest version of OS X (10.10).

Creative Cloud Desktop, which manages application installs, will continue to be supported on OS X 10.7 and above.

In addition, the next major release of Lightroom will be supported on OS X 10.8 and above.

Focusing our efforts on more modern versions of Mac OS X allows us to concentrate on developing the features and functionality most requested by members.

11:01 AM Permalink

This Week’s Creative Challenge: Find Red in Your Commute

March has been all about colour and its importance for creatives and designers.

We’ve discussed it before in The Importance of Colour for Creatives, and more recently went to the workplace to explore blues.

Colour is everywhere, and interesting colours can be in the palm of your hand—especially if you’re equipped with Adobe Color CC.

The thing we love about colour is how it all starts with three very simple elements: the primary colours. We’ve explored two of them so far (yellow and blue) so all that’s left to complete the circle is red. And that is this week’s challenge. And it comes with a twist.
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Before we launch into the challenge itself, here are a few facts about red that should get you excited—”excited” being the key word here.

Red is proven to intensify our physical reactions, making us react faster and more forcefully; blame that on the biological heritage that makes us associate red with danger. But wait, there’s more: Did you know that men reportedly look more desirable when they’re dressed in red? This of course isn’t to say that red is always good, because it’s also been proven that this very warm colour can give people cold feet during exams, leading to a higher failure rate. Who said red was perfect?

Get creative and win big

For us, though, red will always be about winning, because this week you’ll get a chance to win a free one-year Creative Cloud subscription (Terms and Conditions apply).

In order to do that, here’s your challenge: Find interesting uses of red in your commute! It can be your local market, a bus stop, or a pair of shoes spotted on the train… the world is your canvas, so get creative. Forget painting the town red, just show us how red your town is in the first place.

Share your own creative photos of interesting uses of red in your daily commute on Twitter, tagging your local Adobe Twitter account (@AdobeUK, @AdobeFrance, @AdobeDACH, @AdobeNordic, @AdobeBelgium or @AdobeNederland) and using the hashtag #InspiredByColour.

Ready, set, go!

12:00 AM Permalink

SXSW 2015: Top Takeaways for Creatives

SXSW Interactive is a hub of activity, new ideas, inspiration, and learning. Adobe was out in full force at SXSW 2015, with a two-day Creative Camp (plus additional sessions) during the conference.

The sessions we presented covered a broad range, from the future of Photoshop to creating video for social media to discussions of the creative potential in failure and inefficiency.

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Two themes kept cropping up across the different sessions. First:

The pace of change continues to accelerate

New tools, new frameworks, and new ways to work or to find work—the creative world is changing faster than ever. Portfolios need to be updated regularly and new work shared. And working with different teams and across a broader range of devices is a necessity.

As Paul Trani pointed out, the fundamentals of design haven’t changed. Which leads to the next big takeaway:

The ability to be creative is more important than ever

Creativity not only allows you to bring ideas to life, it’s important in many other areas of life: From how to respond to challenges, to how to reach the people who will hire you, and weaving together the threads of a story you’re trying to tell… all (and more) require creative thinking. Good design is more and more important to the success of not just apps or websites but entire companies.

All these things make now one of the best times ever to be a creative professional or to become one.

Over the next weeks we’ll be sharing in-depth posts with key content from each session. The first post on Revamping Adobe Photoshop CC for Screen Design is already up. You can also see what people were saying about the sessions in real-time by checking out #AdobeSXSW on Twitter.

1:36 PM Permalink

I Went to Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015

…And all I brought back is a series of blog posts.

What follows is the firsthand account of a first-time Adobe SXSW Creative Camp attendee: Two days. Nine hour-long sessions.

Session 1: Revamping Adobe Photoshop CC for Screen Design with Zorana Gee and Charles Pearson

Photoshop CC project manager Zorana Gee opened with a brief evolution of Photoshop (and a reminder of its beginnings as a graphic design tool) then launched quickly into the industry trends that prompted Photoshop’s designers, product managers, a cultural anthropologist, and a team of designer advisors to begin the creation of Photoshop for Design.

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A return to the needs of designers

The Photoshop team gave anthropologist Charles Pearson an assignment that sounded simple enough: Hang out with young designers, see what they’re making, how they’re making it, and where they gather inspiration… essentially, figure out what makes them tick. Charles spent a boatload of time with design firms and designers learning how teams use Adobe’s best known software.

During hundreds of conversations, he confirmed that Photoshop is ubiquitous in design studios, but he also heard comments like: “Photoshop is not a concise tool for what I do,” “I only use 10% of what Photoshop has,” and “I need to focus on my design and there’s too much UI.” He actually discovered a disconnect between Adobe and these young designers—who felt like they didn’t really have a relationship with the company or its 25-year-old application.

From a negative comes a positive

The Photoshop CC team had some work to do. Not only did it need to continue its onslaught of innovation in the next build, it also needed to reconnect with the design community and build-out design features and workflows.

What began as the addition of features to address designer needs (one-click font resolution, link Smart Objects. layer comps, CC Libraries) has evolved to include a complete rethinking of the design features in Photoshop.

They call it Project Recess

The collaboration—between the Photoshop team and a group of designer advisors that first saw comps, then prototypes, and ultimately builds of the new version of the software—means that every major feature in the next major release of Photoshop will have been designed and developed using the insights garnered from a well-defined feedback system.

After Charles finished describing the genesis of Project Recess, Zorana previewed some of its features in an abbreviated version of her Adobe MAX Sneak (below) from late last year:


 

My conclusion: Designers, keep an eye out for the Project Recess release of Photoshop CC. It will be a gift.

1:47 PM Permalink

A Small(er)-Screen(s) Version of Adobe Illustrator Draw

Optimized for the large (and larger) screens of the iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus) Adobe Illustrator Draw for iPhone works on any iPhone running iOS 7.1 or later.

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Yep, that’s right. Adobe’s popular freeform vector drawing iPad app, is now available in an iPhone version. And it’s in the iTunes App Store… along with an update for Adobe Illustrator Draw for iPad (more on that further down).

Different. But the same.

This initial release of Draw for iPhone differs from Draw for iPad in only two (minor) ways: There’s no stylus or Touch Slide support and no integration with Adobe Shape CC. Other than that, Draw for iPhone consists of the same vector drawing tools and controls organized in the same UI as Draw for iPad. Which means, a whole long list of features:
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  • Five expressive vector pens and an eraser.
  • The ability to customize drawing tools for opacity, size, and color.
  • One photo layer and up to ten drawing layers for each drawing.
  • Layer controls with the ability to duplicate, merge, flip and scale, and define layer opacity.
  • Up to 6400% zoom for finessing details.
  • The ability to send drawings as vectors to Adobe Illustrator CC, or incorporate them into designs in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator CC.

And, because we’re trying to keep this short, that’s not even a complete feature list. Get the whole story about Draw for iPhone by giving our pocket-sized drawing app a try: Download it free from the iTunes App Store.

Or, stick with the big(ger) screen.

If the iPhone provides what seems a scant drawing surface, there’s still Adobe Draw for iPad. And, although it may be hard to believe, we’ve made it even better with the inclusion of an often-requested feature: an Eyedropper to quickly and accurately sample colors.

We’ve also added support for Pencil by FiftyThree and Wacom’s Intuous Creative Stylus for iPad, (along with Adobe Ink and Adonit Jot Touch). And, now, not only are drawings automatically saved to the Projects folder (so even work you’re-not-yet-sure-you-care-about can’t be lost) but now that there’s also Draw for iPhone, drawings will automatically sync between the two devices when someone is using both versions of the app.

Get the update in the iTunes App Store and get drawing with a better-than-ever version of Adobe Draw for iPad.

And what about Adobe Ideas?

Been using Adobe Ideas and worried about getting projects out of that app and into Adobe Draw? Don’t. Import all of them or bring in just a few: Included in both the Draw for iPad update and the Draw for iPhone release is the ability to do a speedy batch import of existing Adobe Ideas files saved to Creative Cloud.
 

Our mobile apps are even better with a Creative Cloud membership. Haven’t tried it yet? Give it a trial. Free.

10:19 AM Permalink

Nature’s Path Organic Foods: Healthy Food, Impactful Packaging

This leading maker of organic foods supports consistent creative by implementing Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.

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Nature’s Path Organic Foods is the largest independent manufacturer of organic breakfast and snack foods in North America. Making tasty organic, sustainable food is the family-run company’s passion. The Nature’s Path team loves finding new superfoods and developing delicious, new recipes that pair healthy eating with social responsibility.

Making delicious organic food allows Nature’s Path to take care of people and the planet. In everything they do, from sourcing ingredients to designing packaging, the Nature’s Path team strives to leave the earth better than they found it. The company’s design team supports that mission by doing what they can to make the packaging as environmentally friendly as possible.

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Worldwide brand consistency

Highlighting the company’s drive and commitment, Nature’s Path offers hundreds of products for sale in more than 40 countries. For the in-house graphics team, this translates to the need to create a wide range of packaging designs that are fresh and eye-catching, while conveying a consistent brand worldwide.

“We work closely with each other and our vendors to develop packaging we’re proud of,” says Jeff Deweerd, creative team lead at Nature’s Path. “We’re always sending files back and forth, which means that standardizing on the latest and greatest design software with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams streamlines workflows and reduces incompatibility issues.”

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Time well spent

With Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, the graphics team at Nature’s Path gains access to all of the creative software it needs.

Printed materials and artwork are designed using Adobe InDesign CC. Designers can easily bring in visuals from other Adobe software, such as photographs edited in Adobe Photoshop CC or logos developed in Adobe Illustrator CC to enhance designs. Designers also rely heavily on Illustrator CC for signage, promotional graphics, and flexographic packaging designs for plastic or metal wraps and pouches. And, everyone working on the same up-to-date versions of Adobe creative software means smoother collaboration, less time spent exporting and repackaging files, and more on developing ideas.
 

Read the Nature’s Path Organic Foods case study.

10:17 AM Permalink

This Week’s Creative Challenge: Explore The Blues

This month, we’re celebrating the vital role colour plays for all creatives; we kicked things off last week with our post, The Importance of Colour for Creatives.

The truth is there’s so much you can explore around it that nailing down just one colour at a time can be the true challenge. That’s why we’re big advocates of smart colour palettes and the right tools to bring them to life wherever you go, like Adobe Color CC which is available in the iTunes App Store.

BlueBlog_1 Last week we challenged you to bring a new lens to your home and find interesting or exciting uses of yellow.

This week we’re turning our attention to blue—here are a few interesting “blue” facts to get you going: blue is the eye colour of 8% of the world’s population, and from a historical point of view we didn’t speak of “light blue” up until 1915, when it was first recorded as a colour term in English. But perhaps most importantly, research has shown that blue rooms tend to make people more productive, which is why you see so much of it in offices.

So your challenge this week is to find interesting uses of blue around your workplace. We’ve included an example of how that might look, but use your imagination… photograph a colourful mug, a notebook or a simple pencil, your boss’s jacket or just a nice overall frame.

Show us that you also get the blues (in a good way) by sharing your own photos on Twitter and Instagram, and using the hashtag #InspiredByColour​.

12:00 AM Permalink

Working Late with Samantha Warren

We’ll be welcoming designer Samantha Warren at our next Working Late event on Wednesday March 11—if you aren’t already signed up, there’s still time to grab a ticket from Eventbrite.

Samantha will be presenting “Mind the Gap: Becoming a better designer by owning your blind spots”; she was kind enough to spend some time answering a few of our questions about her work as she prepares for Wednesday’s talk.

Who are your mentors and what have you learned from them?

I don’t have “mentors” so much as I have a personal board of advisors. OK, that sounds too fancy, but I have a very talented husband who is a designer, and friends and family who are all brilliant and successful across many disciplines. I go to them for a lot. Make friends with those you look up to, because they will help you to be better.

Some things they’ve taught me:

  • HTML and CSS
  • To always have a good accountant
  • To use Illustrator symbols for making wireframes faster
  • And to never buy cheap tools or desk chairs.

Where do you find your inspiration for design?

Everywhere: history, fashion, culture, environment, books, and art.

Inspiration is less something you seek and more something you keep yourself open to receiving. It’s all around us, it’s just a matter of taking it and connecting it to something in our everyday work. Art and history are big ones for me. There are so many rich associations and feelings that have already been dug up and explored, and it’s just a matter of reinterpreting them in our everyday work.

All photos courtesy of Samantha Warren.

All photos courtesy of Samantha Warren.

Environments are also really strong inspirations for me, particularly in California where there is so much textural contrast in both rural and urban spaces. Just look at downtown San Francisco, with interesting visual juxtapositions that you can see just by walking down the street. There are beautifully-worn facades next to new and modern architecture, and signage and lettering that run the gamut of time periods… all of this nestled in a city that itself is juxtaposed against this fairytale backdrop with the blue-gray bay and the mountains of Marin. The geometric lines of the bridges set against the fog and the organic lines of Yerba Buena Island… there is just so much to be inspired by.

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What was your favorite project to work on? Why?

It’s hard to have a favorite design project. Design projects are like children; they’re all special for different reasons. But there is one art project that stands out.

You know how some cities have community art projects? The city votes on a sculpture and local artists all get sponsored to paint versions of it differently and then they’re displayed around town. When I was in college I submitted and was selected to paint a Rockfish in Richmond, Virginia. My Rockfish was a beauty pageant winner with a sequined dress and a big pearl necklace. My entire family pitched in to help me with it. It was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever had the opportunity to work on, but it was a challenge. I had never worked with the fiberglass medium that the fish was made of, so I had to be flexible and resourceful in order to build up the lady parts that my fish needed to have. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and that made it all the more fun.

What’s your daily routine?

I’ve tried to develop a more disciplined routine, especially after reading Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit, but then I don’t follow through; I like to have a “framework” for tackling the day:

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  • I wake up to my cat meowing in my face and pawing at my ear.
  • Then I enjoy coffee and breakfast with my husband in our SF apartment (which is also my office).
  • I scan Twitter for my daily design, animal parody, and world news.
  • I try to do some sort of exercise or go for a walk or jog.
  • And give myself a deadline to be at work by 9:00am.

My day is then usually mixed between calls, design, and other work-related activities. I may meet a friend or potential client for lunch or coffee and usually try and take another trip to the park. (I love the parks in San Francisco.) I also try and make time for at least one day a week at the ceramics studio, and one day a week for an outing at the beach, a museum, or a drive.

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In anticipation of your Working Late talk, how about a teaser?

“The seed for your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece.” —Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland

It will be a treat hearing more from Samantha next Wednesday. If you haven’t signed up already, claim your spot on Eventbrite.

11:50 AM Permalink