Are you a student looking to showcase your talent, get advice from top-tier professionals, gain invaluable real-world experience, and build your portfolio? If so, Adobe has the perfect opportunity for you:
We’ve teamed up with Marvel to make comic book history and give you a chance to apply your cutting-edge skills.
What’s the deal?
We’re looking for four (4) students with four (4) distinct styles to team up with Marvel pros to create a limited-edition Avengers comic, powered by Creative Cloud, to debut during San Diego Comic-Con.
If chosen, you’ll contribute to the comic, get a ticket to San Diego Comic-Con, and a one-on-one portfolio review with the Marvel pros. Your comic will also be printed and distributed in comic stores across the United States. (You may also be featured on the Adobe Students social channels to help your portfolio stand out to future employers.)
Who we’re looking for
Students (in or outside the USA) aged eighteen (18) and over, who are passionate about illustration, digital media, animation, and comics.
How to be considered
Tag your best original non-Marvel work on your Behance portfolio with #madethis #Marvel. If you don’t have a Behance portfolio, you can make one by simply signing up on Behance and uploading your work.
Work must be tagged on Behance no later than April 13, 2015 for consideration.
Some questions and answers
Who’s eligible to participate? Currently enrolled students from all majors and backgrounds. You must be over the age of eighteen (18).
I don’t live in the US, can I participate? Yes. The opportunity is available globally.
Will I be paid for my work? Yes. Each selected student will receive a cash payment.
Will hotel and accommodations be taken care of at San Diego Comic-Con? Yes. The selected students traveling to San Diego Comic-Con will have transportation and hotel accommodations planned and paid for by Adobe, as well as a daily stipend.
I’m from outside the US, will my visa be taken care of? If you’re chosen, you will be responsible for applying for your visa. It can be completed by visiting esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta and following the application directions. We will reimburse you for any costs needed to obtain your visa.
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
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
And, in collaboration with Adobe and boutique printer Mama’s Sauce he’s also fronting Draplin in The Cloud—part commemorative poster design, part portrait of a new work process, and part collaborative art project—using Adobe Shape CC and Adobe Illustrator CC.
Draplin, along with Adobe evangelist Paul Trani will be presenting a lunchtime session titled Draplin Takes Mobile to Desktop about capturing shapes in Adobe Shape and taking them into Illustrator CC. He’ll also be presenting in the Adobe booth, a sort of reenactment of his design process.
He had a few things to say about this uniquely-challenging creative collaboration:
From shape to design. We know you’ve used Adobe Shape a bit. Tell us how you see it fitting into your design process long term? I’ll sketch something and take a shot of it, let the thing show up in my Library, and will have vectors to refine. From paper to digital, a little quicker. Then I’ll grab that vector, lock it on the art board, and draw over it, refining the idea. It’s another fun way to capture an idea. But mainly, it eliminates steps for me. Instead of having to shoot it with my phone, load the shots to my machine, let the cloud grab it, and then place the shot? From four steps to one.
The assets for this poster will be a compilation of vector icons solicited and gathered from other people’s Adobe Shape CC captures. Tell us a bit about how you think that will work. The world’s moving faster and faster. I’m having to learn new ways of capturing my thoughts, based on what’s within an arm’s reach—paper, steamy shower glass, my desktop computer and, more and more, my phone. Using these new mobile apps, you can bridge that gap. Quick and clean. And I’m starting to rely on it in my process.
It will be fun to see stuff come flying in, out of my control. And then, making new out of it all. That randomness sounds fun. I’ll be at their mercy. Out of my element.
And about that… People on the Internet, whom you’ve never met, sending in submissions for you to design around; that’s a broad collaboration. Nothing can go wrong there, right? Not one thing. Ha! I mean, if it’s weird or mean or creepy, I reserve the right to hit the “delete” button. But for the most part, I anticipate the stuff being submitted with good spirit behind it. Let’s make something cool.
Mama’s Sauce: From Shape CC to Illustrator CC to screen print
This project wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of Mama’s Sauce, an incomparable boutique printer. Because their knowledge of hand-done print processes is profound, we dragged them into a conversation about this project and a larger one about vector-to-handmade printing:
When we said, “We want you to screen print a project that got its start on a smartphone with a mobile app,” did you want to run for the hills? No way. Screen print, letterpress, foil printing—they’ve all come a long way from painting on emulsion, moveable-type, hand carved blocks, chemical etching… you know, the historical processes of putting graphics in a form able of being printed on paper. While all of those are super viable still, each with their own purpose and/or aesthetic, these days, 100% of what we print in our shop comes from a digital or raster file. Considering that the average smartphone has more computing power than the spacecraft that brought us to the moon (you may want to fact check me), there isn’t much a phone can’t do these days. They’re certainly smart enough to produce vector and raster files. I mean, I do it all of the time with Adobe’s mobile apps. It’s crazy how I’m needing my computer less and less.
How do you feel about the concept now that you know a bit more about Adobe Shape and its integration with Illustrator CC? A light went off. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I didn’t realize that you could send files so easily right into our pre-press workflow. The idea of moving in that direction for receiving files is super appealing.
Talk a bit about how screen printing is the perfect complement to vector art and a digital process. It’s powerful when vector meets makers; and digital designers have embraced hand-made output in a big way. I don’t think anyone is forcing it either. It’s a natural fit. The more digital we get in our processes, the more people want to stay connected, not to fight progress, but to keep more options on the table. It’s happening in a multitude of ways too: People are scanning old wood type, exaggerating halftones in their designs, and creating aesthetics based on old production techniques that were once solely practical in nature. And when people wanted more out of the old presses, not just their type and halftone aesthetics, but rather the rest of their printing capabilities for their vector art… polymer plates came along. Modern plate-making for letterpress and modern film-making for screen print—these processes make old world printing the perfect complement for designers wanting to print work on a traditional press.
For anyone who might want to use a mobile-to-desktop-to-screen-print process, what’s most important for them to know? Begin where you are. If you see something inspiring and want to know how it would look 1-color, how it would vectorize, you can snap a pic and see that nearly instantly. Gone are the days where you have to email yourself a file, drag to the desktop, open the asset and then get to work. You work can begin wherever.
Draplin in The Cloud: The collaboration
Aaron will select shapes from online submissions and incorporate them into a commemorative poster which will be printed in a limited run of 1,000 and given away at HOW Design Live. (Not attending HOW? Don’t worry, the poster will also be available as a digital download.)
Wondering how to get a shape on Aaron’s poster? It’s pretty simple. Open Adobe Shape. Capture a shape. Submit it to Aaron through the app. Get more details from Collaborate with Draplin… as an alternative, the process in the words of Aaron Draplin:
Check our microsite to see what else Adobe’s got going on at HOW Design Live.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.