By Greg Ellis and Kelli Clayton

Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago, on Oct. 14, MP&F designers Greg Ellis and Kelli Clayton made the voyage out West (Los Angeles, to be exact) to attend the legendary Adobe MAX Design Conference. If you’re not familiar with this conference, it’s the end-all-be-all conference for anyone in the creative industry. Among 15,000 creatives, Kelli and Greg soaked up knowledge and inspiration from some of the world’s most influential and innovative humans. Recapping every bit of the greatness would be next to impossible, so they whittled their learnings down to 10 key takeaways:

    Trust your gut; it’s often right.

    As designers, we are often our own worst enemy, constantly trying to push designs further and not accepting anything short of perfection. Many times throughout the conference, we were reminded to trust our instincts. It’s easy to pick things apart, but that’s not always productive. When in doubt, step away from the design and pick it up in a few hours, or ask your trusty colleagues for their input (shout-out to the creative team at MP&F).

    Collaboration and mentorship are key to (creative) endurance.

    There’s nothing like bouncing ideas off a fellow creative to reignite the spark (see key takeaway No. 1). Designing is like wearing your heart on your sleeve, so a little TLC is always a good thing. Identifying and connecting with a good mentor can not only keep you sane, but keep you inspired as well.

    “A logo should identify, not communicate.”

    Wise words from Sagi Haviv, the logo designer for Chase Bank, National Geographic, NBC and the U.S. Open, to name a few (obviously not a big deal). He put it so simply, and it could not be more true. Oftentimes, we expect logos to convey some sort of meaning or message about a company; but that’s not what the logo needs to accomplish. The logo is meant to be a visual identity of your company, becoming more meaningful and recognizable over time. Our favorite quote from his session: “The first impression of a logo means nothing.”

    “Stay on top of the computer; don’t let the computer get on top of you.”

    Albert Watson, influential photographer from the ’70s, explained that he has transitioned his workflow from completely analogue to integrating the computer. He reminded us that it is easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of the computer’s capabilities. We need to make sure that the root of our project and creative goals are not getting muddled by the computer’s special effects.

    Augmented reality and 3D design are the future.

    Adobe is actively promoting its new 3D modeling software that came out last year, Adobe Dimensions. With seamless Photoshop and Illustrator integration, this program allows us to quickly take a design from 2D to 3D. This is a game-changer for getting approval from a client. The client might have mixed feelings on their new logo; but slap that sucker on a water bottle or package, and it could be the difference needed to cross the finish line. In addition to this, Adobe is working on a new program that will bring your Dimension models into augmented reality. So not only can you show a client what their logo looks like on a water bottle, but they will be able to pick that bottle up and interact with it. 🤯

    Keyboard shortcuts are your friend.

    And, wow, there are so. many. of. them. Adobe’s design programs are chock-full of helpful keyboard shortcuts that minimize the number of clicks we have to make and help us focus on our creative vision.

    Don’t get too comfortable.

    In design, it’s easy to become comfortable with a certain style or way of doing things; but oftentimes, this comfort limits innovation. Push the envelope and explore designs outside of your comfort zone. Odds are that you’ll end up with something great.

    Design with purpose.

    More than three priorities = no priorities. The success of your design project is dependent on defining the goals you want to accomplish through your design. If you try to achieve too much with one design, it will become convoluted and unimpactful.

    Honesty is key.

    The designer wants the client to love their creative vision, and the client wants the project to express their company’s goals in the best way possible. With both parties heavily invested in the outcome of the design project, tension is often involved. That’s why honest, kind communication is key to a successful designer/client relationship.

    Adobe does it again with SNEAKS.

    Each year, Adobe unveils the newest technology it has been working on behind the scenes. These are presented by the genius engineers who build them, and, let’s just say, the crowd goes wild. One of our favorites this year was #ProjectSmoothOperator. Our lives have been forever changed. You can see this and the rest of the SNEAKS features here.