At Deloitte Digital, we’re all about using creativity to elevate the human experience. So, we sent three of our own creative team members; Ryan Kuhn, Art Director; Elsie How, Graphic Designer; and Stephanie Dore, Senior Marketing Writer; to Adobe MAX 2019—the creativity conference—to get the lowdown on the latest tools and inspiration.

What did they find? A whirlwind of skill-building, design heroes, and sneak peeks of the latest Adobe technology. With more than 300 learning sessions, hands-on labs, and creative workshops to choose from, spanning everything from augmented reality to digital painting to the latest UX trends, the team had plenty of opportunities to explore. Let’s hear it from them!

Ryan Kuhn, Art Director, Seattle Studio

The idea of “creative boundaries” was a reoccurring theme. Whether that means breaking them or working within them. It’s a common reality across disciplines that creatives have a set of limits or expectations. But the idea that these limitations can set you free has always been fascinating to me. And hearing others’ perspectives on how they apply these limits in creating new products was really interesting.

A blank page can be scary, but I picked up a few tips to share with my design team back home, about working through barriers and beating the blank page fear. For instance, graphic designer Annie Atkins suggests that we “step away from the computer and draw by hand,” which might mean starting with a doodle, pencil to paper. It doesn’t need to be perfect to be the start of something great. And founder of Draplin Design Co., Aaron Draplin, really emphasized the importance of “dialing in your workspace palettes,” which is all about setting yourself up for success the first time around.

Almost every session, someone mentioned the use of Adobe Creative Cloud libraries, which gives you access to commonly used elements and can really help improve workflow—leaving more brain power for the important stuff. All things that our design team can put into regular use right away!

A mantra we can get behind.

Elsie How, Graphic Designer, Chicago Studio

It was so fun to learn even more about the Adobe software I already know and love, including diving into new programs and capabilities! Getting to be so close to the Adobe team and hear from them in person made me realize how much care they put into every product. And the speakers they brought together reminded me that my personal work will often feed into my professional work.

I got to see a talk from famous designer and filmmaker, Stefan Sagmeister, about the importance of beauty. He talked about rebelling against the modernist idea of simplicity in favor of design that’s informed and celebratory. Often, ornate details unknowingly serve the function of the design–whether it be making the space more enjoyable or distinct. An example that he provided was public transportation in Berlin vs. Moscow. In Berlin the stations are crisp, white, and modern, with similar fonts and colors used throughout their graphics, making it hard to tell what station you’re at unless you can see a sign. Conversely, the train stations in Moscow are beautifully designed and unique from one another, making it easy to know what station you’re at or if you’re close to your stop without needing to read the name of the stop.

Other speakers included writer and artist Mari Andrew, who offered inspiration from her own journey of healing through making art and the joy it can bring to yourself and others. Plus, writer, director, and producer M. Night Shyamalan and musician and filmmaker Dave Grohl, who spoke eloquently about how creativity is the great enabler in us all.

Though their topics differed, a lot of their messages were the same. Spend time with yourself, unplug, and make time to just think. Make art for yourself. Collect art and ideas you enjoy. Stay curious. Rest. It reminded me that no matter what media you’re working with, it’s important to honor your practice and keep your hand moving. It definitely refreshed my love for design and illustration and I’m thankful for the experience!

Allllll the inspo.

Stephanie Dore, Senior Marketing Writer, Seattle Studio

It was great to be surrounded by other creatives pushing innovative ideas forward. From start to finish, it was clear that this year’s program was all about using creativity and technology to empower every voice, every story. And speakers really found great ways to tie their unique experiences to learning opportunities.

Lettering artist Lauren Hom, of Hom Sweet Hom, spoke brilliantly about building a serious career with silly work, reminding everyone that fun is often the secret sauce to successful projects. She emphasized really listening to yourself, finding and trusting your voice, and using that to empower others, which is something every member of a creative team can try to do every day.

Adobe’s Executive Creative Director, Adam Morgan, talked about the benefits of creative leadership, and it was great to hear from someone who puts it into practice every day. As creatives, we all observe and feel deeply, and this is something that should really be integrated into our culture. Creativity is an investment in not only client work but our ability to emotionally connect with every end user.

It was also really inspiring to see all the latest technology and how creatives are already putting it to use. For instance, Adobe Fresco allows you to paint digitally in a way that can really help ground the work in more natural, realistic ways. And they’re developing a ton of really cool augmented reality and machine learning applications that will be game-changing for creative workflows and help us bring any imagined world to life.

At a conference far, far away.

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Taking creativity to the MAX.