"We’re reimagining the process of creativity”: our highlights from Adobe MAX 2018

22 October 2018

With 14,000 attendees, hundreds of hours of creative talks and workshops, a conference centre the size of a city airport and Beck (yes, Beck) playing his hits live in a baseball stadium, it’s fair to say Adobe’s creative conference MAX, lives up to its name.

This year It’s Nice That was invited over to LA to join in on the action — a three-day adventure filling our minds with creative inspiration, tech innovations and much more. Here’s a few of our favourite moments (not including Beck).


Adobe MAX 2018

Adobe is “reimagining the process of creativity”

In the opening of a mammoth two and half hour keynote, Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen made a clear statement: “the power of creativity has never been more relevant”, and we’d have to agree. What followed was a rampant showcase of the new tools and innovations Adobe are unleashing into the world. Here are just a few of the exciting developments coming your way.

Project Aero

In its most anticipated update, Adobe showcased its new AR authorship tool Project Aero. In a live (and impressively flawless) demonstration the Adobe team not only showed the creative potential of this tool, but also how easily AR projects could be constructed in crossover with other Adobe tools. Hold tight for the impending barrage of amazing (and likely some bad) AR projects to grace your screen in the near future.

Project Gemini

Yeah sure, Adobe have current tools for illustrators and painters, however, Project Gemini offers something new altogether – an intuitive, seemingly easy to use app for touch devices, complete with some seriously impressive features. In a live demonstration by “brush master” Kyle Webster, the audience quite literally gasped at a new watercolour setting which was as real as anything we’ve ever seen.

For those of you hungry for more updates across all Adobe products, including the newly released Premiere Pro Rush and Photoshop for iPad, click on this hyperlinked text you’re reading right now.


Adobe MAX 2018: Erik Speikermann

Erik Speikermann thinks “kerning is way overrated”

That’s right, you heard it here first, award-winning type-designer Erik Speikermann thinks “kerning is way overrated”. Well, at least in the context of letterpress printing.

In his talk alongside fellow p98a member Ferdinand Ulrich and type designer Flavia Zimbardi, the trio discussed the nuances of letterpress type design at large, and shared how they have mastered “post-digital printing”. The talk concluded with the impressive story behind an Adobe Fonts project which revived typefaces found in previously unseen materials from the Bauhaus archive.

On the topic of overrated kerning, Ferdinand Ulrich quickly chipped in that in order to achieve perfect kerning in letterpress, “you would to quite literally take a saw to the letters”, providing a little more rationale behind Speikermann’s bold statement.


Adobe MAX 2018: OMHU

We need a new design framework

In a talk about inclusivity in design, OMHU founder and SYPartners creative director Rie Nørregaard spoke passionately about inclusivity in design.

As a designer behind a beautiful, modern, walking stick for those with walking problems (as opposed to those designed by hospitals) and a slick vegetable peeler made for those with problems gripping objects (and can also be used by everyone), Rie translated the idea that designing for disability doesn’t have to simply “solve the problem”, but instead should be a piece of desirable design which will enhance your lifestyle and self-esteem.

In order to achieve inclusive design at a global level, Rie enforces the idea that we need a completely new design framework: a design framework where products are invented as accessible to all from there very inception. This proposed process takes on common trends where commercial products have to be adapted or modified for those with disabilities after their design, which isn’t very inclusive at all.


Adobe MAX 2018: Natasha Jen

Methodology alone is empty

Natasha Jen has an issue with the word creativity; or at least the understanding of the term. In a very convincing argument, the Pentagram partner broke down that creativity can be split into two very different parts: ideas and method. Natasha carried on to claim that the creative world has become fixated with methodology, to the point where the process of how we design is often seen as the solution before a good idea is even constructed.

Taking aim at how “design thinking” is now being sold as solution to tackle all problems, Natasha showcased her successful projects which first lead with truly great ideas, leading her teams to experiment with various forms of design methods to achieve their purpose. At a higher level, Natasha also critiqued the management-heavy structures often found in creative agencies, where CEO’s take more control than creative partners, and compared them to the more socialist structures found at Pentagram.


Adobe MAX 2018: Annie Atkins

The real world is the best place to inspire your imagination

When it comes to graphic design for film, Annie Atkins is the master. We know this because we’ve heard her talk about her film design many times before, heck we even wrote a whole feature about it.

Moving on from what we have previously heard, Annie displayed amazing examples of how the real world (or rather design that can be found in real, physical spaces), inspires much of her work. At one point the designer even asked the audience to close their eyes and imagine what they signage they might create for 1970s sandwich shop, before revealing a real-life example so novel and naive your mind could have never come close to its perfection.

“We’re always taking ideas from real life. It allows us to create something truly authentic”, Annie stated on more than one occasion, and she proved her point very well indeed.


Adobe MAX 2018: 99% Invisible

The US dollar is in dire need of a new design

For those of you aware of Roman Mars’ podcast, 99% Invisible, you need not read further. However, if you’re yet to hear about this amazing podcast which looks at the importance of design in everyday life, you’re in for a treat.

With his opening statement, “you’re in for a weird hour” setting the tone just right, Roman Mars headed in to a full-on assault on McMansions, how design is used in public spaces (often not to the benefit of the public) and lastly the “dreadful, dreadful, design of the US dollar”.

Taking time to bash its general flaws in size and colour, oh and the fact it has way over eight fonts competing with each other, Roman highlighted the fantastic design process behind the Australian Dollar, a truly pioneering piece of functional design.

There’s well over 200 episodes of Roman Mars and his silky (so, so silky) voice dissecting everyday design, and we can’t implore you more to listen to every episode.

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