Here’s what graphic design fans have to look forward to at this year’s Adobe MAX

With hundreds of free sessions, talks, and workshops spanning all avenues of the design world and beyond, this year’s Adobe MAX is not one to be missed.

19 October 2020
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4 minute read


Adobe MAX is always an anticipated event in the creative calendar. And this year, it is bigger than ever. Taking place exclusively online, it includes three full days (20-22 October) of inspirational speakers, celebrity appearances, musical performances, global collaborative art projects, and over 350 sessions, labs and creativity workshops. And the whole thing is free. It’s an event “built to give the thousands of creatives in attendance insights into how and what it takes to stay resilient in these times, how to double down on one’s craft and the importance of life-long learning,” the Adobe MAX team explains.

With so much variety, one area in particular which Adobe MAX has placed a lot of emphasis this year is graphic design. A plethora of speakers will be taking to the virtual stage, giving insight into their practices, in turn, bringing together the graphic design community at this tricky time. They hail from all corners of the design world too, so whether you’re a typographer, digital designer or staunch lover of books, there will be something for you.

One of the speakers we’re sure every designer will wish to see is Irma Boom, representing the editorial design and art book world. Based in Amsterdam, the founder of Irma Boom Office is often described as “The Queen of Books”. She has created over 300 books in her extensive career and is known for her artistic autonomy within the field. Her bold experimental approach to projects often challenges the convention of traditional volumes in both physical design and printed content.


Rem Koolhaas: Elements of Architecture, designed by Irma Boom. Image courtesy of Irma Boom

Then there’s Gail Anderson, a designer, educator, and writer based in New York City, who is known by many for her previous role as senior art director at Rolling Stone, but has also worked as a designer at The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine and Vintage Books. With work represented in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Milton Glaser Design Archives, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gail’s talk is a must-watch for magazine and paperback lovers.


Rollling Stone: October 17, 1996 YIKES. Art director: Fred Woodward. Designer: Gail Anderson. Photographer: Albert Watson. (Copyright © Wenner Media. 1996)

Annie Atkins is a designer we know we’ll be tuning in to see, as she’s spent much of her career creating “fake” graphic design for films, a fascinating and meticulous practice. This has included four Oscar-nominated films: the animated feature The Boxtrolls, Spielberg’s Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies, not to mention Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and The Grand Budapest Hotel (excitingly, Wes Anderson is also speaking at this year’s MAX). Alongside Irma, Gail and Annie, viewers can listen to talks by Kate Moross, Erik Spiekermann, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister, Neville Brody and many more.


Annie Atkins: assorted selection of graphic props (Copyright © Annie Atkins, 2020)

As well as this incredible line-up of speakers, a massive part of MAX is the educational strand of programming, and there’s a schedule of hundreds of sessions that anyone can take part in. Type designer, Bruno Sellés of Vasava Studio for example, will be running one titled Thriving as Creatives in an Uncertain World; a more than topical issue. Taking place on 21 October at 10 am BST, Bruno will be delving into how Vasava Studio is tackling the obstacles of today’s world and how this changes routines, workflows, challenges, and goals on a daily basis.

If you’re interested in learning a new skill, Martina Flor Arce, a lettering designer, author, and educator who runs Studio Martina Flor in Berlin will be delivering a Lettering Design Master Class on 22 October at 9 am BST. Martina has been teaching workshops, seminars, and online classes since 2010 with one goal in mind: helping generations of illustrators, designers, and makers to level up their skills with letters and unleash their best work yet.

Finally, there are also more technically-led workshops too, run by experts from Adobe and beyond with the aim to improve your creative practice. One such session, on 21 October at 3 pm BST, is Automating Photoshop: Indispensable Timesaving Techniques, which will be led by Jesús Ramirez, a Photoshop instructor from the popular Photoshop Training Channel. As the name suggests, you’ll find out how to avoid time-consuming, repetitive tasks and automate just about anything in Photoshop; a must-have skill as we all spend more and more time on our laptops.

This really is just the tip of the iceberg so now is your chance to register for Adobe MAX and start digging through the immense wealth of content and build your schedule before the event kicks-off later this week.


Paula Scher: The Bush 2020 (Copyright © Pentagram New York, 2020)


Studio Moross: Spice World Tour (Copyright © Studio Moross, 2019)


Stefan Sagmeister: Still from The Happy Film (Copyright © Stefan Sagmeister, 2016)

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Adobe MAX

Adobe MAX – The Creativity Conference – is a free virtual event from Oct 20 – 22. Watch keynotes, celebrity speakers, product sneaks and workshops on demand here.

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Adobe MAX 2020: artwork by Wallen Diaz (Copyright © Wallen Diaz, 2020)

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