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Survival guide to Adobe Max And Is It Really a Creativity Conference? | FREE – PDF Overview with links to resources (Short)

Whether you're heading to Adobe Max for the first time this year or are a veteran and want to reminisce and share your thoughts with me, this blog post is the place to be. I'll share below all the highlights, tips, tricks, and ups and downs that I experienced at Adobe's yearly creativity conference over the years.

This blog post is going to be a long read ( 20 min) with lots of visuals and two videos. I summarize my survival tips at the bottom of the post. At the end of the post, I also break down my thoughts on Adobe Max for fashion and textile designers. Just in case you were wondering if it's for you and should you go?

Alternatively, grab a summary and links to resources. This summary breaks down the sessions and makes it easier to understand what you can sign up for. Click the image below and request the password for the resource vault! Ready. Set. Go!

what-is-adobe-max-the-creativity-conference.jpg

The Community Pavilion

To me, Adobe Max has two inspiring events happening simultaneously. One is very obvious, and that would be the sessions that are outlined in their catalog when you register. Those are broken down in many different ways, and I will speak about a couple of those further below. The second one that might not seem so apparent for newbies is the playground pavilion. The pavilion is where sponsors and other vendors showcase and sell their wares. Also, this is also where Adobe and said vendors create a lot of either educational sessions for their products, where you can meet and chat with authors, artists, podcasters, and even make connections with design teams at bigger companies like Adidas. The vendor-sponsored welcome reception is a great evening to walk around and see the entire place on the first night and see what you want to come back for on the following two days. The pavilion is also a place where you can create things. Here I have screen printed tees and postcards, created a mosaic type mini painting as part of a mural against bullying, have heat seat images onto metal via a process that I can't remember the name of right now, and many other fun things.

The pavilion is also a place to recharge your batteries, your devices and your body. Last year they had a oxygen bar with flavored oxygen that you could inhale through your nose. I am sharing a pics somewhere below of that. Kind of yucky at first but felt like a boost of some sort (coffee like?).

More...

Tips (Community Pavilion):

  • Leave room for the unexpected. Whenever one of my registered sessions underwhelm me, I head over to the pavilion. But I also schedule time in my agenda to go here and see what looks interesting to explore and do. 
  • Read the material that will be in your swag bag to find out about giveaways and whether you have to be present to win. I can' tell you how many times people don't claim their winnings and it goes to the next person (nail biting madness).
  • Bring enough business cards. + Bonus tip: Take pictures with the people you meet. To reconnect with and remind them who you are.
  • Walk around and when you see a long line, ask people that come out at the end of the line what the line was for? Maybe the line is for a professional head-shot, perhaps you get to do a superimposed-animated-graphic on top of your face that you can share on social media, perhaps you and your friends want to take silly pics with props that can turn into a flip-book, or perhaps it's just a stupid pen, USB charger, insert thing you don't want (that was 20 min wasted).
  • Psst - secret- not so secret tip: Adobe's info desk inside of the pavilion and some other community areas in the pavilion may have buttons, and or enamel pins to collect. They disappear quickly, so don't hesitate if you like those type of things. Grab and run!
meet designers like joshua davis at adobe max and create art for a cause meet artist and authors

The pictures above and below are all from the pavilion. I met some fantastic artists and got to get to bug the teams that are shaping the Adobe applications that I use on a daily basis. Adobe used to have an evening event called "meet the teams," I attended some of these back in the days and felt sad for the (let's say) Photoshop team. Some fans of the software were not happy and not fans of the software development team. They kept attacking the teams and demanded certain fixes or old feature to come back. Trust me it wasn't nice. I guess with the size that the Adobe Max has grown to, it makes no longer sense to hold these once tiny and "cozy" events.

In the photos above you see the gentleman who was organizing and helping so that the anti-bully mural came alive. Meet  Joshua Davis . He is a fantastic artist whose course on generative art I signed up for and never finished. It was fun to talk to him about his class and to hear his enthusiasm about it.

In the photos below you get to see Russel Brown a wizard of digital design with his show, he is a hoot. Always pushing creative boundaries, he is offering pre-conference training on projects ranging from custom printed teapots to this year helping people create their augmented reality imagery. I don't think you will miss him, when at Adobe Max.

adobe-max-creativity-conference-for-fashion-designers-meet-russel-brown

There is a mixed bunch of pictures below. Back in the days (2010) I would take almost exclusively hands-on digital design classes. We used to receive the files in Adobe Max branded USB sticks or download them there. At home, I was able to practice a lot that I learned during those sessions via my notes and the handouts and provided exercise files. My needs have changed, and I no longer feel the need to sit in those labs or bring your device (BYOD) sessions. Before registering for sessions that sound promising I look at the presenter's work and then I might decide to join for one of those classes. My need is 1. to make a non-digital mess (see pics below sessions and learning) and reconnect with my playful side. Moreover, then 2. get inspired by design philosophies, concepts, and workflows from different industries and try to make it work for my area of interest. Also, 3. keeping aware of what new tools and workflows are possible in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

The photos below also show how quickly the design community and the vendors at Adobe Max implement and use newer design technologies. I was amazed at the quality of some of the 3D printed accessories presented back in 2010 (correct me if I have the year wrong). All 3D objects were designed in Photoshop 3D.

More photos show that when the Apple Pencil didn't exist yet, other companies were trying to come up with solutions and create pressure sensitive tools for the iPad. Paper by 53 was one of these companies, and although I knew the app and the pencil, I was not aware that they had offered a full-color print on demand service for your digital sketchbooks. SAY what? Not too pricey either for the full-color option.

2010 adobe max tools 3d printing accessories to new ipad tools

Sessions and learning 

Depending on what you do during your day job, you might want to consider taking the sessions that do not require any digital devices (as mentioned before). They are called Creativity Workshops and fill up quickly (get on the waitlist). Below I shared a couple of images from three different ones that I attended. One was with Timothy Goodman, and it was all about creating art with Sharpies.

The middle images are from a workshop where we cut foam-sheets into stencils and hand printed them onto paper. Printmaking!

Also, the last set of photos is from a workshop where we "had to" collaborate with the people around our table and create art based on prompts on the screen (in record time) and then pass it around and let the others work on the next section and so forth. Talking about learning the art of letting go. I tell ya. With a variety of materials like ink, watercolors, bleach, duct tape, scissors, and more to experiment with the creativity session was fun, new, exciting.

In all session I found my nosy-self looking unabashedly at what other's were doing and how they were doing it and left feeling inspired. At first I thought that it was going to be very important that the presenter's/ instructor's work was going to be somewhat in alignment with what I visually prefer to look at, but in the end, it was the creative process and having fun with strangers that was more important.

creativity session hands on messes and team work sharpies mark making and crazy collaborations

Below I share a bunch of old cell phone pics that I took during a session that was a regular session (75 min total: a presentation followed by Q&A). Designers Julia Rothman and Santtu Mustonen had prepared an excellent session on how their design work life looks. In this session, they shared so much great information about what inspires them, how they create revenue from their art and some fun examples of how clients can be very confusing (you know the kind). The Q&A following such inspiring sessions always has some extra golden nuggets for me.

I already talked about this before but I used to want to attend all hands-on labs or bring your own devices / BYOD, but I rather not carry any devices anymore and like to challenge myself by taking sessions from fields utterly unknown to me. The session previously described was not an unknown field for me. However, during one of the past years, I took a session by a lady who creates the interactive experiences for museums. The "museum session" was to this day the most impressive career that I have ever heard of. I forgot the presenter's name or the company that she leads, but remember what excellent team effort goes into their job. There was a lot more to that presentation that I have scribbled down somewhere, and maybe I'll share it one day. For now, enjoy the pics of the session below.

I am sharing tips on session taking in the serenity section about crowds below.

approach-ability and process by fellow artists that are on top of the game

Crowds, walking, and lines

Adobe Max has grown to an almost uncomfortable size. It is still fun when people behave and plan to be patient. There is much walking to and from places that you want to be. There will be lines, and I find that usually during those waiting times, I have had some of the most interesting conversations.

Tips (For Serenity and Session taking):

  • Bring a refillable water bottle. There is free water everywhere.
  • Grab a couple of energy bars, fruit and other snacks from the breakfast area or hotel, just in case that you are not going to make it out of back-to-back-sessions.
  • Arrive at all the sessions that you want to take at least 20 min early. If a session has a waiting list or you know the presenter to be very popular maybe even arrive earlier. Adobe will give your spot away to people who are not registered once they open it up and you have not made it into the doors.
  • Get familiar with the layout of the event and schedule enough time to walk from sessions to sessions, to lunch, to pavilion, and wherever else you might need to go. The worst thing that can happen is that you walk around lost and need to walk in the complete opposite direction. Rather ask twice than lose that precious time and energy.
  • Yes, it is much walking, so make sure that the shoes you are planning to wear are going to be comfortable for a long time.
  • The conference rooms can get cold. I always have a couple of layers of clothes with me. I don't like being chili.
  • Get comfortable. Most of the time, you may sit on the ground. You can charge your devices in the walls of the session and lean against the walls. You will see this a lot towards day three when people are barely holding on.
  • Psst - secret- not so secret tip: Is a session full, BUT you wanted to attend it? Be nice, quiet, wait in line a little. See if the "angry" crowd disappears after being turned away and stay persistent (and quiet and kind). You might miss the beginning of that session. Even after you hear (are told) that the session is full, a little while later there might be room (I've witnessed it and lucked out that way a couple of times). PSSSTT... almost didn't want to tell you.
 crowds and read all event and game descriptions leave room for the unexpected

Shopping 

Self-control is a major concern in the vendor hall. The newest computers, accessories, tech gadgets, books, and other items are impressive. Whenever I need to upgrade some equipment, I tend to wait until I see what is offered at Adobe Max. Vendors usually give out great discount codes, and you can often still use the promotions and order when your head is a little clearer, and you are back at the safety of your home.

The photos above only show a tiny glimpse of what would be on display.

I also wanted to point out that I discovered a great podcast while walking the pavilion, named "The Deeply Graphic Designcast" and met one of the hosts  Nick Longo (pictured above). It was interesting to hear and see one of the people behind this venture and to get once again inspired by the enthusiasm that fellow creatives have for their chosen career.

The major events (to miss or not to miss?)

General Session

Keynotes on fire, this is how Adobe Max starts off. Large stage, lots of mesmerizing visuals, showcasing how inspirational leaders in the industry use Adobe Products. Some years it seemed to be a little slower than others, usually during the parts where Adobe recounts where they were last year with their products and where they are now and where they are going. It's on the agenda for 2 hours, and it will most likely run longer. Sometimes that means the following sessions are either shorter, run into lunch(or the presenter didn't get the memo and began and I missed out on more interesting info).

Adobe Max Marketplace 

On the last day artists (some of the presenters) are selling their art in the pavilion. You can support your favorite presenter and take that now meaningful art piece home. I have bought temporary tattoos, books, and other little nick-nacks here.

Welcome Reception 

Attending the first evening reception is a great way to recharge your batteries on the evening of day #1 and make some fun connections with your fellow creators. There will be buffet tables and beverage stations all throughout the pavilion. You can walk around and see what you might want to check out in detail the next day or eat, drink, and relax.

MAX Sneaks

Day #2 ends with the most anticipated events for me. Sneaks are showcased and explained to a person (usually a celebrity who knows little about Adobe products) by the Adobe development team members of different software. One sneak that I wanted to get my hand on was the 2017's #physicspak. There is a photo of that above, but you can watch a short video on this here. This tool is something that I would like to use in my textile design work. I have not heard about it anymore since. See, and that is the not so great part about the sneaks, the showcased features may or may not become part of the future releases of Adobe software.

MAX Bash

A party that I do not want to miss. Concerts, food, quirky art installations, and fun conversations with many (at this time) tipsy to really drunk creatives. I am sharing many photos of the bash in the selfie, professional portraits, and photo -ops section. My favorite part has become trying to find out how Adobe will present the sweeties each year. From having little dessert ride on a conveyor belt to having "chemist" freeze them for you, it's always a very colorful fun surprise. It is going to ruin any other events for you!

Tips (Major Events):

  • For the general session and the Max Sneaks (celebrities and super - successful creators on stage). Depending on how close you want to sit next to the main stage you need to plan to arrive early. If you do not care as much, know that there will be big screens inside the big venue and you can see and hear everything very well.
  • There will be beverages to consume inside of the venue during the Max Sneaks.
  • MAX Bash will most likely be outside, as there will be a live concert, food trucks, and other otherworldly entertainment. Dress up if you like and keep in mind that you might get chilly.

Games and other tech - connected gadgets to look out for

Tips (Adobe Max App):

  • Download the official Adobe Max app and log in to see your sessions.
    Read over all sections of the app and find out how to play the vendor hall (pavilion) game. You can scan QR codes with the app and win prizes.
  • Check your email to see if there are any updates and or announcements
  • Take the surveys in your app after each session to enter to win books and other session related stuff.
the food at adobe max is amazing never had shrimp and grits before always eating never hungry well grab food listen for the xylophone

The food

Yum! As you can see I never really had any issues with the food. You can specify during the registration process if you need to eat specific food due to dietary restrictions and food allergies. Just do not forget to do it during the registration as they prepare it only for those who advise in advance.

Tips (Food):

  • Don't worry about the food running out for lunch, their sponsored events, and during their bash. Yes, I have seen them get low on items for breakfast and their snack/ coffee items. + Bonus tip: Look for their afternoon snack and coffee & tea station.
  • The food at the MAX Bash will be varied and will most likely repeat in several areas. So walk around and see if there is less of a crowd in a different area.
  • DO NOT MISS dessert. At lunch, welcome reception, and especially at the BASH. Maybe that is just me.
    Photo opportunities, selfies, and professional portraits

Photo opportunities, selfies, and professional portraits

There are so many opportunities to have your picture taken and sometimes even a video or animation that will be emailed to you. Look out for the professional head-shot booth in the pavilion and schedule a time that you would like to dress up and go there. I used to say to myself that I will come back and take a picture later, or get all shy and not do it. As you can see below, now I do it all the time and straight away. Those are my memories to keep, and I enjoy them.

Tips (Photos):

  • Have fun with the props, different art installations, and vendor's experimental booths.
  • Do you need a professional photo taken, for your LinkedIn or social media accounts? Prep and have your outfit and make up ready. The lines can be long for the professional headshots, but there are down times like during regular sessions and during lunch.
    selfies photos ops and professional portraits and more
selfies photos ops and professional portraits and more

Freebies (let's address the rumors)

Yes, once upon a time lucky Adobe Max attendees were given big-ticket items. One per year. Like a computer one year, an Android phone another year, a water bottle (that year), and a Fuji Camera. Yes, that was all true. However, the event has grown so much that I do not think that these big ticket items are coming back. For the past two years, there were sweaters with Adobe Max logos and a cap (two years ago).

The vendor hall has little promo items, and some of them are pretty cool. One can still enter to win things from almost all vendors, and I know people that have won large format full-color printers, books, and a ticket for next year's Adobe Max.

Yes, the event is on the pricey side, but I do think that you can make the most of it, by networking and taking advantage of all that Adobe Max has to offer.

If you are a student, you can register for $299(learn more here). 

Swag at adobe max surface pro 3

BASH

 No words. You got to be there.

adobe-max-bash-party-till-you-drop-do-it

The last day

 The last day always seems tough. Early bird sessions are almost always very low in attendance on the last day, and the presenters are ever so grateful that you are there. I have heard the day after comments so many times, and it is indeed true that this conference will have you go non stop and run you down. You will most likely need a day to recuperate after it is over.

Tips (The Last Day):

  • There is a complimentary coat check at the conference venue. Use it for your luggage while taking your sessions.
  • Schedule time to return to the pavilion and see the individual tables of the artists (that may have been presenters) in the Adobe Market Place
  • Super - secret tip: If I still feel like purchasing a bigger gadget from the vendors in the pavilion I go there now to see if they have extra last-minute bonuses. Doesn't hurt to try.

Your turn and thank you for reading all the way to the end

Leave me a comment or tag me on social media if you are going to Adobe Max? Have you been going? Do you look forward to it, or is your boss making you go? Share your thoughts and some tips that you might want to share. Feel free to say "Hi!" in person at Adobe Max.

↡Scroll down to grab the tips as a summary. Also read on if you want to learn my thoughts on whether the event is valuable for fashion and textile designers.

keep-energy-level-up-and-don-t-miss-anything-at-adobe-max-it-was-all-a-dream
is adobe max for fashion and textile designers

My thoughts on is Adobe Max valuable for fashion and textile designers?

What is of value to you is a very personal decision. It depends upon what you are looking for in a conference. When you register for Adobe Max, you will be asked to check mark your industry. Fashion and textile design are not listed. Graphic design, photography, and web design are some of the categories that are listed. To me, that signals that the apparel industry attendance at Adobe Max is minimal. Speakers that present the sessions are very rarely solely coming from an only fashion or textile design background. So if you are looking to receive digital design advice directly from successful apparel and textile designers, you will most likely not find it at Adobe Max. However, if you are willing to take what you learn at Adobe Max from presenters from other industries and then imagine and figure out how to apply it to your, you will learn a lot.

If any of the previous photos and my description of the event pulls at your heartstrings, maybe it is time for you to have a massive three-day artist date and you can take this time to play. Fashion and textile inspiration as you know can come from anywhere.

Do you run your own company or plan to become an entrepreneur? Then this is an event that can help you in creating strategies for your team, social media strategies, and assist in finding tools that you might not have even been aware of. I upgraded my web-hosting to one of the vendor's services that I met at Adobe Max.

Lifelong learning is a conscious decision of mine. Meaning that I decided several years back that I enjoy learning new things and keeping my life exciting and interesting by doing the same task differently. Yes, it is a balancing act and a lot of the events and classes I attend I do because I am curious.

↡Scroll further down to copy the summary of tips ! ↡

↳ Grab the overview and links to resources. This summary breaks down the sessions and makes it easier to understand what you can sign up for. It also includes links to the previous year (2017) free on-demand video sessions. Click the image below and request the password for the resource vault!

what-is-adobe-max-the-creativity-conference.jpg

Survival tips to Adobe Max - Summarized

Tips (Community Pavilion):

  • Leave room for the unexpected. Whenever one of my registered sessions underwhelm me, I head over to the pavilion. But I also schedule time in my agenda to go here and see what looks interesting to explore and do.
  • Read the material that will be in your swag bag to find out about giveaways and whether you have to be present to win. I can' tell you how many times people don't claim their winnings and it goes to the next person (nail biting madness).
  • Bring enough business cards. + Bonus tip: Take pictures with the people you meet. To reconnect with and remind them who you are.
  • Walk around and when you see a long line, ask people that come out at the end of the line what the line was for? Maybe the line is for a professional head-shot, perhaps you get to do a superimposed-animated-graphic on top of your face that you can share on social media, perhaps you and your friends want to take silly pics with props that can turn into a flip-book, or perhaps it's just a stupid pen, USB charger, insert thing you don't want (that was 20 min wasted).
  • Psst - secret- not so secret tip: Adobe's info desk inside of the pavilion and some other community areas in the pavilion may have buttons, and or enamel pins to collect. They disappear quickly, so don't hesitate if you like those type of things. Grab and run!

Tips (For Serenity and Session taking):

  • Bring a refillable water bottle. There is free water everywhere.
  • Grab a couple of energy bars, fruit and other snacks from the breakfast area or hotel, just in case that you are not going to make it out of back-to-back-sessions.
  • Arrive at all the sessions that you want to take at least 20 min early. If a session has a waiting list or you know the presenter to be very popular maybe even arrive earlier. Adobe will give your spot away to people who are not registered once they open it up and you have not made it into the doors.
  • Get familiar with the layout of the event and schedule enough time to walk from sessions to sessions, to lunch, to pavilion, and wherever else you might need to go. The worst thing that can happen is that you walk around lost and need to walk in the complete opposite direction. Rather ask twice than lose that precious time and energy.
  • Yes, it is much walking, so make sure that the shoes you are planning to wear are going to be comfortable for a long time.
  • The conference rooms can get cold. I always have a couple of layers of clothes with me. I don't like being chili.
  • Get comfortable. Most of the time, you may sit on the ground. You can charge your devices in the walls of the session and lean against the walls. You will see this a lot towards day three when people are barely holding on.
  • Psst - secret- not so secret tip: Is a session full, BUT you wanted to attend it? Be nice, quiet, wait in line a little. See if the "angry" crowd disappears after being turned away and stay persistent (and quiet and kind). You might miss the beginning of that session. Even after you hear (are told) that the session is full, a little while later there might be room (I've witnessed it and lucked out that way a couple of times). PSSSTT... almost didn't want to tell you.

Tips (Major Events):

  • For the general session and the Max Sneaks (celebrities and super - successful creators on stage). Depending on how close you want to sit next to the main stage you need to plan to arrive early. If you do not care as much, know that there will be big screens inside the big venue and you can see and hear everything very well.
  • There will be beverages to consume inside of the venue during the Max Sneaks.
  • MAX Bash will most likely be outside, as there will be a live concert, food trucks, and other otherworldly entertainment. Dress up if you like and keep in mind that you might get chilly.

Tips (Adobe Max App):

  • Download the official Adobe Max app and log in to see your sessions.
    Read over all sections of the app and find out how to play the vendor hall (pavilion) game. You can scan QR codes with the app and win prizes.
  • Check your email to see if there are any updates and or announcements
  • Take the surveys in your app after each session to enter to win books and other session related stuff.

Tips (Photos):

  • Have fun with the props, different art installations, and vendor's experimental booths.
  • Do you need a professional photo taken, for your LinkedIn or social media accounts? Prep and have your outfit and make up ready. The lines can be long for the professional headshots, but there are down times like during regular sessions and during lunch.
    selfies photos ops and professional portraits and more

Tips (The Last Day):

  • There is a complimentary coat check at the conference venue. Use it for your luggage while taking your sessions.
  • Schedule time to return to the pavilion and see the individual tables of the artists (that may have been presenters) in the Adobe Market Place
  • Super - secret tip: If I still feel like purchasing a bigger gadget from the vendors in the pavilion I go there now to see if they have extra last-minute bonuses. Doesn't hurt to try.