Adobe MAX

What we took away—the swag and the skills.
Adobe MAX time is like early Christmas for those of us in the creative world. This year, the STAV team went all-in and got pre-conference and conference passes to the event in Los Angeles, California. Run by Adobe (you know, those guys who make everything from Photoshop and Lightroom to Illustrator and InDesign), the event hosts workshops and learning opportunities for filmmakers, photographers, designers, and creatives alike. There were thousands in attendance this year—14k to be exact. We learned so much, met some design heroes and we loved everything about it. Here are some things that we learned along the way:
Takeaway 1: “Go Big” Gemma O’brien! The lettering goddess. This Australian-based lettering queen was gracious enough to share some of her work with us, and let us try our own hand at “going big” with design. You can see her work in large spaces, street murals, museums, and pop-up shops. (Check out her Insta here). She showed us how she goes about taking her sketches and making them into large-scale pieces. We love the way that art can elevate a space, making it into an experience rather than simply a room. Gemma gave us tips on the best brushes to use, markers to letter with, and paint. All Australian products, of course. It was fun to get back to the physicality of design and play with paintbrushes, paper, and brush markers—tools that aren’t digital. We’re jazzed to use these skills in branding spaces for clients, taking artwork and transforming it into murals for walls and billboards.
Takeaway 2: Designing is a privilege. Aaron Draplin is a freelance graphic designer in Portland. He’s probably most recognizable for his signature“thick lines” in his work, along with his amazing ability to entertain and be kind. We sat down in a session with Draplin and listened to some of the creative lessons he has learned over the years. Design is a privilege, he says. Draplin doesn’t believe in creative block. He believes in diligence. As designers and creatives, we are lucky to be making a living doing what we love. We are lucky to be telling clients stories through our work. Not everyone gets to say that, but we do. So sit up, and spur hard. Design is RAD and we get to share it. Takeaway 3: Design is a job, and creative breaks are good for us—and for clients. Tad Carpenter is one of our design heroes. We’ve all got them. We took a session at MAX with Tad and learned about using creativity outside of work that leads to better work inside of work. (Did you catch that?) Tad Carpenter runs a studio in Kansas City with his wife, Jessica. Together, they make up Carpenter Collective. Their studio focuses on illustration and branding. Tad gave us a peek at a few of their projects, but also shared how important it is to take creative breaks every now and then. What’s a creative break? It’s like miniature sabbatical. You take time away from the desk and just make. Not for anyone. Not for work. Just for yourself. The point is to get out of your head for a little bit and challenge yourself. In return, the creative juices get flowing and you can create even better more imaginative concepts for clients when you return to the desk. Don’t get us wrong. It’s a job we love and do every day, but like any job, you give yourself breaks every now and then. At STAV, we like to swing by the record store down the street, grab coffee at Lola Savannah, or give pats to the office dogs. Besides this, it’s important to also take a little creative time for yourself. It’s taking the weekend to check out Marfa, or painting with acrylics on a Sunday. It’s those small things you do as a designer to make the client work that much better, that much more creative, and that much more magical. (So hit us up if you want to take us all on a European vacation.)

Takeaway 4: We love our clients.
From branding spaces, to designing hotel identities, STAV is a unique agency that gets to do it all for our clients. We love it, and we’re excited to bring back the skills and tricks of the trade to make your brand stand out among the rest. Sky is the limit for ideas. Reach out. Drop us a line. We want to use our creative magic to help you tell your brand’s story. If you’re interested in checking out any sessions from Adobe MAX this year, those nice folks have made the recaps available online here. Happy learning!

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