2015 Adobe MAX Recap – Part 1

Adobe Max design wall

Post-conference Haleigh does not approve of pre-conference Haleigh’s creative doubts.

I recently attended the 2015 Adobe Max Conference where creative brains from around the globe gathered to learn about the latest Adobe Creative Suite updates and the different ways to leverage these tools to create works of art, from photographs to illustrations and videos. As a communications professional and aspiring creative services manager, I attended the conference to hear the latest trends in visual communications and to learn some new techniques for eliminating pesky creativity barriers. I got all that and much more.

It was an action-packed three days at the Los Angeles Convention Center so I’m going to divide my top takeaways into two separate categories and blog posts. Those looking for personal reflection prompts to unleash creativity, you’re in the right place. Practical professional recommendation folks, stay tuned.

Personal Reflection

What a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by such brilliant artistic minds. It was simultaneously humbling and empowering for my creative id. I say id because I often stifle my creative voice due to a crippling fear of embarrassment and/or rejection. The first session I attended (Jacobs) was focused on recognizing and owning this inner critic. A session the next day (Kost, Orwig and Glyda) celebrated creative impulses by encouraging exploration in fulfilling personal projects. From these two sessions, I have created a quick list of pointers for quieting self doubt and channeling your creative energy.

Tips for Banishing Your Inner Critic

Many of us share the same work doubts and hang ups. It’s not good enough. I’ll get to it later. This inner voice can be detrimental to morale and productivity. Creativity Evangelist Denise Jacobs discussed how to engage with the inner critic to remove these roadblocks.

Stop celebrating perfectionism.
I always considered being a perfectionist to be a strength, but Jacobs revealed a very real and negative byproduct. The desire for perfection breeds doubt and procrastination. Your inner critic says it’s not ready because it’s not as good as someone else’s or you haven’t devoted enough time because you are so busy. You are too focused on the product to experience the creative process. Embrace a good enough perspective to avoid the perfectionist freeze.

Eliminate “I have to” from your vocabulary.
Instead of saying “I have to,” opt to say that “you choose to” work on something to begin from a more productive place. Get excited about working on a project by remembering the meaning and/or value behind the work. Even the seemingly mundane tasks contribute to a bigger picture and exploring that connection will reinvigorate your approach and perhaps reveal a more innovative way to accomplish the task.

Converse with your doubt.
If you feel that creeping sense of doubt, talk to it. Ask what you want from yourself. Again, this is a mind trick to turn from negative to positive and productive. If you’re stuck on a string of bad idea, explore why the ideas are bad. Thinking through what’s wrong with an idea may help you identify the right path to a better idea.

Celebrate your victories.
When you achieve something great, acknowledge it. Surround yourself with achievements, big and small, as a reminder that you are capable and talented. When you fail, learn and grow from it. That last part may seem unrealistic, but think of how resilient small children can be. Their persistence to walk or to read is driven by an unrelenting thirst to learn. Know that learning does not end, and we’re all continuing to grow throughout our careers.

Tips for Igniting the Creative Spark

So now that we’ve removed those roadblocks, how do we channel this freed creative energy? Principal Digital Imaging Evangelist Julieanne Kost, Photographer Chris Orwig and Photographer Joe Glyda had some inspirational words for the Adobe MAX crowd. I’ve explored some of my favorite sound bites below.

“I would rather create than consume content” – Kost
Do something for yourself each day by stretching your creativity in personal projects. This doesn’t mean you have to embark on an arduous project. Think of something that can be accomplished in an hour a day and build from there. When you’re beginning to incorporate personal projects in your schedule, be sure to limit the scope so you can actually get stuff done and feel productive.

“If it’s significant to you, there’s a greater likelihood its significant to somebody else” – Orwig
But you’re not just creating something for creation sake. Create something that matters to you and share it with others. During the session, the panelists conducted an exercise around the words that inspire you. At the top of my list were relevance and truth. Consider how your work connects to universal truths in order to inspire and touch others.

“Challenge yourself to get blood flowing and the heart pumping” – Glyda
Struggling to come up with an idea for a personal project? Glyda shared an amazing tale of hanging out of the back of an airplane. This is an extreme example, but the underlying premise is so important to continued personal and professional development. Take yourself out of the norm to see what the experience inspires. Challenging moments of discontent and fear can be opportunities for growth and creativity. This can be as simple as switching up your routine, alter the route you take to work or just take a walk without your cell phone. Just slightly alter your perception for a new view.

Do you follow this advice in your creative process? Do you have other pointers to share with those struggling to channel their creativity? Please comment below with your thoughts.

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