Inspiration For The Win – Day 2 At Adobe MAX
Yesterday, at the Adobe MAX Day 1 keynote, our product teams wowed the creative world with major advances across our flagship desktop apps; a new video product, Premiere Rush CC, aimed at YouTubers; and previews of a no-compromise version of Photoshop for iPad; as well as the astonishing Project Gemini, a new painting and drawing app for iPad.
If the first day at MAX is always about products, the second day is just as energizing because it’s all about inspiration – hearing from creative leaders about their journeys and how they find that creative spark.
Nicola Scott took the stage first, a comic book artist who has worked on characters such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. She originally wanted to be an actor but, at 27, felt burnt-out without any sense of strategy or career direction. She fell back on drawing, her original first love but even that didn’t bring immediate success.
Then, an epiphany. It wasn’t about what she “could do” with drawing to make a career, it was, “What do I want to do with drawing?” The answer was simple. She wanted to draw her favorite childhood superhero, Wonder Woman. Through perseverance, that took her out of her comfort zone and her native Australia — and crucially listening to constructive feedback from others in the comic book business — she realized her dream. She was chosen as the illustrator to work on the content that celebrated Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary.
Next up was Albert Watson. Albert has made his mark as one of the world’s most successful and prolific photographers since he began his career in 1970. Blending art, fashion and commercial photography his career is a tour of the people and iconic media imagery that help shape popular culture.
About 10 years ago, after a lifetime in the darkroom (where the smell of the chemicals remain like “a fine wine” to him) Albert moved to digital. He shared that, while digital camera hardware didn’t make a lot of difference to him, he fell in love with the computer and how digital tools like Photoshop made him more creative. Though he did have a warning: advance planning for a shoot is essential, despite digital technology.
Albert said, “One of the weaknesses with young photographers I see, is they don’t plan enough what they’re going to shoot. Sometimes they are too reliant on Photoshop – I’ll fix it later. The soul of the picture is when you take the shot. It’s absolutely essential that your creative force is piled into that image.”
Then our hugely talented evangelist, Jason Levine, hosted a chat with Questlove, the best-selling author and 5-time Grammy winner, and actress-producer-writer Lilly Singh. The conversation touched the discipline needed to succeed, the importance of mentorship, and tips for creatives on how to keep engaged in the creative process.
For Questlove this was about sometimes disengaging from our digitally driven, always-on culture. “The most important part of creativity is boredom. You have to allow yourself to have silence, so you can hear your ideas, so that inspiration can come in.”
Lilly took a more pragmatic approach by, “scheduling inspiration,” which means she sets aside time to consume content and bring new influences into her creative orbit.
And finally, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard: one of film and television’s most enduring legends. For those of us who have been around MAX for a few years, there was a nice symmetry to Ron’s talk with Adobe chief marketing officer, Ann Lewnes. Specifically, the Apollo 13 movie. At MAX 2013, Rob Legato, Ron Howard’s special effects whizz took us behind the scenes on some of Apollo 13’s amazing special effects sequences, including the awe-inspiring take off of a Saturn V rocket.
Ron told us that digital technology has ensured that he feels much less tired when he finishes a movie today, compared to thirty years ago. Ideas, particularly in special effects, can be realized much quicker. He also shared that for creatives, “Someone has to help you understand early on in your life that your creativity has value.” Again, this touched on the theme of mentorship that ran through today’s session. And after a career working with a who’s who of Hollywood royalty, from John Wayne, to Bette Davis, to Tom Hanks, he had one big takeaway: “The ‘greats’ outwork everyone.”
Today’s session at MAX really delivered on what our CEO, Shantanu Narayen talked about in yesterday’s opening keynote. He said, “creativity is all about the community” and that a core part of what we do has always been about exchanging ideas, collaborating, and inspiring one another. And the importance of being mentors: it’s why MAX exists and why, if you haven’t attended, you need to start lobbying your boss to get you a pass for our 2019 edition. We might even have some tools to help you make your case, in a high-impact digital format.