Everything we learned about the future of creativity at Adobe MAX London

Adobe’s very first MAX event in London shared how generative AI can be integrated into creative practices, alongside inspiring talks from leading industry voices.

30 June 2023


Creatives everywhere are pondering our technological future, from questions around how creativity will manifest in the Metaverse to concerns around the role of the designer in the age of machine learning. Undoubtedly, advancements in this area will affect how the industry functions, as well as how those within the industry will contribute to its output. At the heart of the issue are some of the creative world’s leading brands, such as Adobe, who just a couple of weeks ago launched the very first Adobe MAX event in London as a way of investigating this future and spotlighting its own position within it.

On stage at the event, as Adobe demonstrated the capabilities of its new generative AI model Firefly – specifically, how the much-discussed Generative Fill feature can be used to extend backgrounds without prompt – there was an audible gasp from the audience. While these features were undeniably impressive, there was more than just technical wizardry afoot. Across community-led activities and keynote speeches from the likes of Munya Chawawa and the Victoria and Albert Museum’s (V&A) Jacqueline Springer, we got to hear what these technological implications mean for the future, the announcement of a new Adobe Creative Residency programme with the V&A, and insightful stories on history and censorship.


Copyright © Adobe MAX London, 2023

There were multiple creative takeaways from the evening’s event, but a key conversation topic was how the long-awaited AI tool Adobe Firefly could make creativity more accessible. As Behance founder Scott Belsky took to the stage at London culture venue The Beams to talk us through the benefits Firefly offers – as well as the issues it tackles – we saw in real time how this technology might let all of us better express ourselves and enable experienced creatives to move into new multimedia fields.

This is largely because of the creative exploration Firefly features will allow. Of the many discussed in a talk with Adobe’s Rufus Deuchler and Brooke Hopper, we saw how Photoshop Generative Fill allows creatives to generate new objects in quite literally a click or two, meaning you can play around with compositions without committing to one creative solution. In the community area – where attendees were creating their own screen-printed tote designs using only a text prompt in combination with Express Text Effects & Text to Image – we also saw how AI might provide inspiration to those who struggle with colour combinations. Illustrator Generative Recolor allowed us to change the palette of vector artworks with a single text description.

GalleryCopyright © Adobe MAX London, 2023


Copyright © Adobe MAX London, 2023

Alongside live demonstrations of the various features and programs, Scott also talked the audience through six waves of creative change that he expects to see as we move into the future, as AI becomes a more commonplace creative tool. These included the idea that “creativity is the new productivity”, and that as the desire for rapid and limitless creativity grows, so too will the need for human creatives to differentiate themselves from their AI counterparts through unique and distinctive ideas.

Key to this will be changes to creative workflows, using AI-powered programs to make complex technical processes easier and in turn freeing up time for users to let their imaginations run wild. Adobe is currently hard at work developing features within its products that facilitate faster and more accessible creative output (such as using generative AI to build 3D models from photos), so more energy can go into out-of-the-box thinking.

Scott even addressed some of the ethical issues that are coming to the fore as this future materialises, such as how users of generative AI programs can be held accountable for the work that they create. There was talk of special tools – like Content Credentials – which remain with the content wherever it is used, published or stored, that enable proper attribution for creators. This allows such work to be traced back to its source, so that the material it uses to generate the end product can be checked for copyright infringement. The hope is that, one day, these tools will be an industry-wide standard. This is part of the Adobe-led Content Authenticity Initiative.


Copyright © Adobe MAX London, 2023

With our heads still reeling from the AI insights, Adobe revealed Adobe x Museums, which provides access to underrepresented creatives at two prestigious art institutions: the V&A and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Three new residents at the V&A will receive studio space, mentorship and access to the museum’s resources and staff expertise, while their work will also be featured in a public display. On top of all of this, the residents, who will be employed full-time for 12 months, will play a key role in the expansion of the museum’s public programme, which aims to sustain links with underserved communities across the UK. The V&A’s Jacqueline Springer, curator of Africa & Diaspora: Performance, joined the stage at MAX for an incredible talk on Black music and history, outlining how music considered “controversial” has been subject to censorship and reductive messaging, through newspaper headlines on rock and roll through to the Sex Pistols and So Solid Crew.

As the very first Adobe MAX London was rounding up, many of us had technology and the future on our mind. With the rise of impressive tools like Firefly, it can be easy to wonder what humans can bring to the table anymore. However, in the conversation between Adobe’s Tasnim Bhuiyan and keynote guest speaker Munya Chawawa, the comedian and actor reminded us of the joys of handmade creativity. Munya stressed the importance of believing in your own style with a hilarious metaphor about pickled onion crisps. “Sometimes everyone is in the mood for something different,” says Munya. The comedian encouraged us to keep creating for those moments.

Readers can try out Adobe Firefly for free, and download Firefly updates for Express, Photoshop and Illustrator here.

GalleryCopyright © Adobe MAX London, 2023

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Adobe MAX London

The world’s leading creative conference was in London for an exclusive evening of insights, innovation and exploration of the future of creativity.

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Copyright © Adobe MAX London, 2023

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