by Design Thinker, Katie Schultz

This November, a massive three-day gathering of creatives took place in San Diego, Ca — downtown streets were filled with 10,000 matching tote bags, lunch conversations critiquing menu designs, and hype surrounding Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming appearance at the event. Of course, people didn’t go to Adobe MAX only for the tote bags (although they didn’t hurt), they went to hear from design leaders, learn about tips and tricks for Adobe products they used everyday and meet other creatives from around the world.

As one of those “creatives”, being surrounded by masses of people, discovering art installations around every corner and running into some of my design heroes in the corridors of the conference hall left me with an overwhelmingly sense of inspiration. The feeling is similar to when you drink an excessive amount of coffee, causing you to think a mile a minute only to freeze in place not knowing quite where to start. To help me digest the staggering amount of inspiration, I reviewed my notes from the conference and came away with three overarching takeaways.

  1. Finding My Voice Matters
    As a designer, you’re asked to create work for companies and people each with their own distinct voice. You learn to constantly adapt your design to those voices to fit each project. But, that doesn’t mean your own personal design voice should be cast aside. It means you need to look for it, explore it, hone it and express it. Maybe your voice gets expressed differently than you expected — maybe it’s expressed through starting a blog, or acting in local theatre, or even weaving wall hangings. Trying new things helps you find out what really makes you tick — makes you sing, makes you express yourself. And, discovering your voice in different ways can translate to that same voice being expressed in other vital areas of your life.
  2. Experimentation = Growth
    How do you get out of a design rut? Keep growing and evolving your style? These are questions that come up for me time and time again. In sessions with Timothy Goodman and Dan Rhatigan, we were encouraged to experiment with different tools and different environments to facilitate personal and artistic growth. Changing tools and locations not only forces you to adjust the way you work, but it also results in your story being told in a different way — your art being made in a different way, your new tools or workspace challenging your assumptions and pushing you to make new choices.
  3. Put Out the Kind of Work You Want to Get Back
    Sharing your work is essential to improving it. Getting feedback from peers helps it grow and become stronger. But, sharing the kind of work you want to do more of — the work you love — is just as essential. Doing and sharing the same kind of work you want to continue doing is what will bring that type of work in your direction. The story you’re telling, the environment you’re living in, the vibe you are putting out into the world will attract the same in return.

I was struck by inspiration at Adobe MAX. And, if you want to experience some of that same inspiration, you can watch all of the sessions online here. Links to three of the most inspirational sessions are here:

Gemma O’Brien / The Future of Typography is Human Video

Paul Trani / 10 Photoshop Tips & Timesavers Video

Dan Stiles / You Don’t Have to Start With a Good Idea — You Just Have to Finish With One Video

A Connected Customer Experience Consultancy