Reflecting on Adobe MAX 2023.
Dana Tanamachi, Illustrator, Tanamachi Studio.
Another Adobe MAX in the books — there is nothing as exhilarating as spending three jam-packed days surrounded by friends old and new, learning with each other and from one another. There were sneak peeks of new features and technology (hello Project Stardust, and variable fonts in After Effects?!), a big bash, and plenty of experiential fun in Creative Park.
Each day, we gathered our thoughts (and feelings) into a post capturing what we could of the whirlwind that is Adobe MAX. Read on for a collection of our favorite quotes, observations, and questions we were left pondering.
Quotes that inspired us.
“It’s just so nice to be around so many creative people.” Creatives thrive off each other’s energy, and few places showcase that better than Adobe MAX.
“I just hope corporations don’t lose sight of craftsmanship.” - Magdiel Lopez, Creative Director at Belmont Agency & ArtistUprising on AI. He welcomes the technology and the time savings it can bring but insists that we can’t lose sight of the qualities that make creative work meaningful – that human touch that gives all creative work its soul.
“Hey girl,” - Monotype Executive Creative Director Charles Nix, playing the part of a font that was hoping to be chosen during our presentation where Monotype Brand Senior Type Director Sara Sosklone and Designer Marie Boulanger aimed to help people choose the right fonts for their projects.
“We cannot underestimate the power of creativity. It’s totally free, but it’s more precious than gold.” - Dana Tanamachi, whose heartfelt personal story drove home the power of creativity – expressed in the simplest of ways – to carry people through difficult times.
“Don’t be afraid to do what we do for the people closest to us.”- Aaron James Draplin, who opened the inspiration keynote session and flashed through designs he created for and with friends, hand-painted signs he created for a yard sale at his mother’s house and spoke at length about designing as an act of care and love.
“We should only automate where we cannot elevate.” - Eph Gerard Cruz, Director of Operations, at Xfinity Creative, the company’s first-ever in-house creative agecny. In addition to tools like JIRA, Adobe Workfront, and Sprinklr, Xfinity is adopting automation tools and AI – but only to make time for creativity – not to replace it.
“We were all that kid that stayed up late making a poster, or making a zine — when did that become not fun?” - Zipeng Zhu. Showing off a dizzying collection of animation work, Zhu helped us all remember why we get up in the morning to create – whether it’s for a client or simply for the fun of making something for ourselves.
“Sometimes I feel conflicted between what design tells me to do - and art inspires me to pursue.” - Nubia Navarro walked through how to “Find Your Own Unique Voice in Design,” demonstrated by a series of four different projects, including her impressive first take at 3D work with 36 Days of Type, and an identity rooted in her own culture, Cha Che Chi, for Type Directors Club.
“We want to create products for everyone, so we should make them seen and heard by everyone.” - Kevin Rogers. While there was no shortage of awe-inspiring art and aesthetically pleasing work in talks and throughout Creative Park, it’s important to remember the considerations that need to be made for all to enjoy it.
Observations we made.
When it comes to fonts, variety is the spice of life. Multiple people we spoke with talked about falling in and out of love with fonts over time, and how gratifying it is to find new options and refresh your personal library. Naturally, we loved hearing that 😊.
Most creative careers morph over time to include multiple specialties. Whether out of necessity, curiosity, or simply the urge to learn, skill expansion is a recurring theme among today’s creatives. When asked what they were most excited about at MAX, multiple attendees said “to learn more, attend workshops, and get new skills”
Do it for yourself. Creating for yourself is not only an exercise in good mental health and creative well-being, but to break free of that pressure and create work that conveys your passion, perspective, and humanity.
People. Love. Fonts. Each year we’re reminded how much people just love the heck out of fonts. John Roshell, founder of Comicraft and Swell Type (and a Monotype Foundry Partner), demonstrated the art of comic book lettering to a captivated audience, while other guests played our Font dating game or picked the brains of our type designers. It’s always fun to be around people who love fonts as much as we do.
Imitation in design is natural. There is no idea that’s truly new, everything is a reference. This is not a bad thing, and can be used as a thought to take the pressure off designers to constantly create new work when they can simply iterate.
Art as a reflection of self. Many guests and speakers talked of the inherent need to create – it’s not simply a choice or a career, it’s a calling and a cathartic way of moving through life’s challenges. Zhu said, “For me, doing work is my way to cope.”
Questions we pondered.
“How do you go about making every day a razzle dazzle musical?” When speaking with Zipeng Zhu, queer immigrant artist and founder of Dazzle Studio, they shared the story of an evolution of self, and how that manifested in their work. When they first immigrated to NYC from China, they aimed to blend in instead of standing out, but quickly realized their strength lied in colorful exuberance in life, and in work.
Karen X Cheng closed her talk about combating the pressures and expectations of social media with a simple question: “What would it look like if the next generation of technology was designed more mindfully?” As creatives continue to take measure of AI and its implications for our world, Karen’s question served as both a challenge and a plea for a future that values the humans technology is meant to serve.
In just three days, the LA Convention Center becomes a second home of sorts, a micro-community full of hugs, love, and deep personal connection. Throughout the week, we were floored to hear so many personal stories of hardships and their connection back to design and creativity. How can this sense of vulnerability and human connection enhance design?
Thanks to all of the fantastic speakers for sharing their inspiring stories and for the guests who visited our booth throughout the week. We had wonderful conversations with the creative community and will be dropping an Adobe MAX episode soon, stay tuned at monotype.com/podcast.