Adobe Systems Incorporated

The Journey of Design

The fourth 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.

Learning How to be a More Inefficient Designer with The Made Shop

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“We view our process, our journey from not knowing to knowing, as our work.”

Like everyone, the founders of The Made Shop have been taught to value efficiency (time, after all, is money), but when they looked closely at the projects in their portfolio, many of them had a common thread: They’d been created “the hard way,” using tools they’d never used before, ideas they’d never tested, and paths they’d never previously followed. It made them question whether efficiency was all it was cracked up to be.

During their session, subtitled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Inefficiency,” they shared projects and maxims and explained how to introduce friction into the design process, how to un-automate procedures, how to design the hard way, and still consistently create solutions that imaginatively address client needs.

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“Not to find the answer but to ask the questions… that’s the job of the designer. Selling answers, that’s a product. Selling questions, that’s part of the process. We start with the idea that the client comes with the questions and it’s our job, and they’re paying us, to come up with the answer. But that’s not quite the right way to think of it.”

The “right” answers don’t always ensure the best solution. If designers only take on work they know… that is, projects for which they answers come easily, they sell only their most tested capabilities to clients. Only their most-accepted answers.

But clients call on designers for new. For unique. For innovative. So… Question. Learn. Explore. Then begin the process again with every new assignment.

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“Limitations act like a funnel; they direct focus and, because they cut away other options, produce a really pointed end result. When starting a new project, where you start directs the shape of it in an inevitable way.”

Creative minds wandering unencumbered by money or time or rules… it’s the creative ideal. Unrestrained imagination and problem-solving. The ability to stretch creative muscles. Afterall, controls are not for creative thinkers trying to solve problems for a living. Unfettered creative freedom is how other designers come up with meaningful and memorable solutions. Right?

Well, that’s for sure the knee-jerk reaction: Constraints (a lack of time, of budget, of experience) as not good for the design proces, stumbling blocks to work that’s valuable, rich and, well, creative.

The opposite is true.

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“One of our favorite methodologies is to work with tools we’re unfamiliar with…. that we don’t exactly know how to use. Sometimes, although difficult to use, they give us exactly what we needed in the first place—even though we didn’t know that when we started.”

Want a new solution for a problem you’ve solved before? Use tools that are unfamiliar, follow paths that are unknown, and say yes to projects that scare you:

Analog. Digital. Tools provide the direction of the solution. Unfamiliar tools force finding new ways to do things.

Sidetracked by an idea? Follow it. See where it leads. Not sure whether it will work? Not knowing is the first step toward knowing.

Say yes. Despite obstacles, lack of knowledge, or limitations. Dive into projects with no prior experience, no answers, and no expectations about how they will go. “You’ll be,” says The Made Shop, “inherently and unavoidably in an inefficient place.”

My conclusion: The goal of design is to NOT make things exactly the same, or in exactly the same way, every single time.

Read the wrap-up of Session 3: Failure As A Creative Catalyst with Erik Natzke

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Between Failure and Success

The third 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.

Failure as a Creative Catalyst with Erik Natzke

“Anyone here who has not failed as a creative, raise your hand, stand up, and walk out the door. Because THAT is not how creativity is born. Creativity is born through struggle, through strife, through what happens every day when someone decides, ‘I’m gonna go try this.'”

Over the next hour Erik walked the audience through his career, and its portfolio of projects, and the serendipitous collision of challenges, setbacks, successes, efforts, and decisions that led him to…. now. Over a dozen stories, each connected by the thread of a falter, a restart, and success.

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“Never turn things down. Especially if something is a challenge for you. Test your reach not your grasp.”

Doubt plagues people in creative professions. More often than not, instead of believing, “I got this,” internal conversations are more of a faltering, ego-crushing, “I don’t know if I’m going to be good at this.”

Pushing through the insecurities is possible because of people who’ve gone before, who’ve also been troubled by finding satisfying resolutions and answers that address the needs of a creative brief. Every creative difficulty is supported by a community that knows the reward… of a solution that was hard to come by.

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“Everyone is always going to come to you to do exactly what you’ve done before, so you have to force yourself to evolve… unless you’re really happy with what you’re doing. I’m constantly trying to make sure that what I’m doing is something I enjoy.”

Each project leads to what’s next. An obvious statement perhaps, but Erik delivered a stern warning to the audience to be careful about choices, to not make them based on dexterity, or comfort, or convenience. But to always be doing those things that fuel passion. Because looking back at a career through a lens of “I stuck with what I did well,” might not be so satisfying.

Instead of spending a lifetime doing only what you’re “good at,” do what you love. Make a move. Make a change. Even if it’s painful.

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Erik’s first project at Adobe was We Are The Creative Class, “a rallying cry to the passion, the pain and the power of commitment to creative. It’s a creativity anthem that embodies the struggles and strife of the creative profession.”

Erik ended up at Adobe because he wanted to work on the tools that have played such a big part in his creative process. And, during the almost three years he’s been at Adobe, he’s created beautifully-memorable bodies of work like the TED All-Star Portraits and was the principal designer for the build of Adobe Brush CC.

But Erik’s first uplifting project for Adobe almost didn’t happen because of a series of Herculean constraints:

My conclusion: A creative path, littered with projects that didn’t go as planned, is not always an easy one, but the successes, the result of inevitable failures… worth the suffering.

 
Read the wrap-up of Session 2: Moving from Graphic Design to 3D Object Design with Paul Trani

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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

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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.

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Two Days of Adobe Creative Camp at SXSW 2015

We’re headed to SXSW Interactive to host Creative Camp, two days of lessons, insight and conversations about creative tools and the creative process with Adobe evangelists, product managers and design experts.

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Take a look at our packed schedule:

 

Friday March 13

11:00am–noon
Revamping Photoshop for Screen Design with Zorana Gee
Come join us as we dig into the full and behind-the-scenes story on the revamping of Adobe Photoshop CC for screen design. For the past two years, a small group of designers, researchers, and management has been reaching out to Photoshop CC’s design users and listening to the complaints, smiling at the praise and, most importantly, learning. And with that knowledge we’ve set into motion a number of responses meant to improve designer workflows. As we weave in and out of this story about how an iconic piece of software is being transformed to meet new demands, we’ll share new projects (and perhaps products) from the tireless Photoshop team.

12:30–1:30pm
Moving from Graphic Design to 3D Object Design with Paul Trani
Seemingly overnight a new industry has emerged: 3D printing. And while it’s easy to get excited about the technology, it’s the design of the 3D objects that really matters. Thankfully the new 3D printing capabilities in Adobe Photoshop CC allow graphic designers to take their design skills in new directions and create, perfect, preview, and print 3D designs in a familiar environment. What was once on your screen can be a physical object in front of you.

This session teaches what you need to know to bring ideas and designs into the physical world, including the different materials for printing, how to use your own printer or a printing service, how to market 3D design services, and more. Learn what will you can create and where will this new industry can take you.

2:00–3:00pm
Failure as a Creative Catalyst with Erik Natzke
It’s often said that change is good, but the reality is that change can be scary especially when it involves taking a new job or working on a new creative project in an area that you’ve never worked in before. It can be even harder when everything doesn’t go as planned and you encounter challenges, setbacks or failures.

In this session principal designer Erik Natzke will talk about his experience leaving his own agency to come to Adobe, and building his first iOS app, Adobe Brush CC, and the challenges he encountered along the way. Erik’s goal for Brush was to let designers extend their creativity and engage them to play more but the app development process wasn’t always fun or smooth, and solutions didn’t always appear right away. Ultimately the journey of getting through all the setbacks led Erik to discovery and launching a truly delightful app.

3:30–4:30pm
How to be a More Inefficient Designer with The Made Shop
Are you well-organized, methodical, and competent? Is your work productive, effective, and streamlined? Well, we can help. We’ve all been taught to value efficiency (because obviously time is money), but the religion of efficiency comes to us from industrial revolution assembly lines with the goal of churning out the same product repeatedly with as little variation as possible. And that’s not the goal of design.

In this session, The Made Shop will share tips and tricks for Introducing friction, indecision, and waste into the design process; misspending time and energy; making things the hard way; un-automating simple procedures; and consistently producing downright inefficient design.

 

Saturday March 14

9:30–10:30am
The Evolution of the Web with CJ Gammon
The web has changed a lot in just the past few years and continues to grow in exciting ways. We have new devices and interaction paradigms as well as increasing expectations from users. In this session we’ll explore inspirational examples of where the web is headed and what new opportunities they provide and we’ll look at demos and techniques that allow us to take advantage of what we have today while looking to the possibilities of the future.

11:00am–noon
Going from Design to Code without Going Insane with Ryan Stewart & Sarah Hunt
Designing and coding for the web is complicated for designers and developers working together; designers have to produce designs for various screen sizes, developers have to turn those designs into code, and they have to finish as quickly as possible. We’ve all been there, done that, and felt the pain. But, help is here. Learn about new workflows for designers and developers to work better together. Learn how to share information from a PSD without needing to red-line or write a “spec” defining how to use layer comps for designing various screen sizes, and explore techniques for optimizing assets and code. While you might not be ready to kiss each other you’ll be going from PSD to code in a snap.

12:30–1:30pm
Story Structure Secrets with Christine Steele
Learn how to hook viewers with a compelling opening structure questions that engage the audience; identify when it’s time to move from one scene to another; and learn how the rules of three-act structure can be applied to films of any length. From shorts to features or documentaries, your film will benefit by applying classic techniques to create a strong story structure.

2:00–3:00pm
Make Social Media POP with Video with Dave Werner
One of the best ways to reach your customers is through social media and while words and pictures can be interesting, a sure-fire way to capture attention on social is with engaging video. If you’ve never made a video before, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to begin: How do you get your message across in a short amount of time and find the right balance of entertainment vs. information? How should you plan before you shoot to capture the best possible material to work with? How do you edit? And how do you decide where to post your videos? 
In this session you’ll learn how to create video content and give it a professional look and sound, with Adobe Premiere Clip on your iPhone or iPad, and how to share it on social media for maximum reach.

3:30–4:30pm
Promoting Your Creative Work on the Web with Roxanne Schwartz
Your online portfolio is one of the most important parts of promoting your creative career—but just how do you do that? It can be daunting to get started. As a community manager at Behance, the world’s largest creative portfolio platform with over four million members, Roxanne Schwartz has seen thousands of creative portfolios on the web; she’ll be sharing what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to showcasing creative work online. Even non-designers can create a knockout online portfolio by following best-practices learned from top creatives. From guiding principles to the nitty-gritty details, this session will teach you the best way to promote your creative work online (on Behance and elsewhere) and expose it to the right people.

Join us for one, or all, of our Creative Camp sessions in Salon E at the JW Marriott on 110 E 2nd Street and be sure to be a part of the conversation on Twitter with #adobeSXSW.

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SXSW Interactive Adobe Creative Camp

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Edge Reflow Preview and several other key releases of our Edge Tools and Services into the Adobe Creative Cloud. Now, we’re happy to showcase Reflow and many other web tools at SXSW Interactive at our Creative Camp on Sunday, March 10, 2013!

ReflowThe day will feature five sessions and panels where you can see the Adobe Creative Cloud in action with the latest tools and services that let you create content for the modern web. And specific to Reflow, don’t miss session number two with Product Manager Jacob Surber on “Concept to reality: Creating Adobe Edge Reflow.” Jacob will share his insights on how we created the first comprehensive tool to help designers create responsive comps.

Follow us on Twitter @Adobe and @Reflow leading up to and during the Interactive festival to catch all the Adobe SXSW news – and don’t forget to join the conversation with #AdobeSXSW. Hope to see you there!

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