A Conference for Creativity

Graphic Arts Students Go to Adobe Max


Rebecca Christensen

Adding to the creative process at Adobe Max

Rebecca Christensen, Cactus Contributor

It’s six o’clock at night right now, and the nine of us are sitting quietly and working at our laptops in McCarren Airport in Las Vegas. We’ve spent the last three days walking the halls of the Venetian and the Palazzo, running around trying to make it to all the sessions and workshops we signed up for. Even though most of us are a strange combination of exhausted and exhilarated, we’re still working on our homework in between talking excitedly about everything we did.

It was a long three days, and most of it we spent having a superhighway of information drilled into our heads.

We went to Adobe Max. For those who don’t know, Adobe Max is the largest creative conference in the United States, and, as Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said in his Keynote address, “We think this is the largest gathering of talented, creative professionals that there has ever been in one room anytime in history.”

Over the summer, we, a group of Graphic Design & Photography students started talking about attending a creative design/photography themed conference sometime in the next couple of semesters. We had no idea it would only take four months for us to get to one. But we got lucky, we got registered, and then we went to Vegas.

Once we set our bags down in our rooms, we started in on what most of us now consider to be the most valuable experience in our graphic design careers so far. We went to sessions which inspired us, we attended labs that deepened our skillsets, and we rushed to all the creative workshops we could.

As Ashley McCreery put it, “My entire workflow is going to change because I went to this conference. Seeing other people’s workflow and creative process has allowed me to see significant gaps in the way I work and be able to fill them in a positive way.” She added, “As a student going to the event I kind of felt like an imposter into the industry. Here I am learning how to do what all these other professionals do on a daily basis. When I told people I was a student, they didn’t dismiss me; they were excited for me – to be at the conference, starting in the industry. Everyone was beyond friendly, and that is my favorite part because I will be spending a lot of time with these people.”

I know how she felt; whenever I mentioned I was a student, people would be so excited on my behalf that I was able to come to such a conference this early in my career. “You’re so lucky!” more than one person exclaimed (in fact, I attended a session based entirely on the concept of how much luck can affect your life and career, but that’s a different story).

When I asked Taylor Slaughter (who already signed up for next year’s conference) about whether she felt this trip affected her career, this is what she had to say: “Sitting in a classroom with a professor or even online will allow you to learn the basic skills you need to be able to do the job, but walking around the convention center socializing with other creatives, and getting to hear people’s stories about how they got to where they are is extremely inspirational and it’s something that you just can’t experience by sitting in a class and learning the material.”

As for me, I believe going to Adobe Max is one of the best experiences I’ve had all year.  Adobe Max has inspired me as well as increased my drive to be a great graphic designer. Talking with and listening to all the different people there helped open my eyes to how incredibly varied the field of graphic design is. We often think of a graphic design as a staid career with little variation, but there are so many different careers you can go into, from little print shops to huge corporations, from the medical industry to book or advertisement design.

Colt Marley, president of the Graphic Design club, summed it up best; “Students need this type of exposure and experience in order to feel it out for themselves, outside of the classroom. You can’t get this experience in a classroom alone.”