It's almost unbelievable that I have the honor to write a first-hand account of the Adobe Creative Cloud MAX conference. The week spent in San Diego seemed to have gone by more quickly than the plane rides taken to get there in the first place. The personalities met, hearing creative's wisdom, and the amount of information and inspiration I took in is something I have put aside for a couple of weeks, but am now ready to reflect on.
First and foremost, I have to thank Loyola University Maryland for this invaluable experience and learning journey. I was sitting in my Studio Lighting class during the first week of *October* and I had just received a weekly email that was sent to my clutter folder from Adobe. I thought - oh, just another Adobe email about some super expensive software package that's on sale for 4.89% off. Nope. The subject line read "Don't Wait Until It's Too Late". And as I opened it, I read: Adobe MAX. The Creativity Conference. November 2-4. This is one month away. Maybe I'm naïve, but I had no idea Adobe had this ginormous, epic conference. I looked into it and started clicking through the conference's website. I said aloud in a joking manner to Professor Skeen that I should ask Loyola for money to send me to this conference. And she said "do it."
And we did it - but not at first. Margaret Wroblewski and I wrote a descriptive proposal and sent it to various departments informing them about the conference, what it was all about, what we plan to take back from the conference, and what we plan to contribute to Loyola for sending us to the conference. We first submitted our proposal to The Center of Humanities and were rejected. It hurt, and we lost hope, and were told by many that we now have "practice for writing proposals" and "never know what it can lead to."
The Center of Humanities recommended us to talk to the Communications department to see if they could help us in any way. With the generous amount of money the Communications department gifted to us, we still needed more if we wanted to have money in our personal savings accounts when we got back. We were recommended further to Dr. Barnett, Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean, who enthusiastically offered Margaret and I a large sum of what we requested for funding in our proposal. Dr. Barnett offered us the funding so enthusiastically that I almost wasn't sure if he was being serious or not, and needed another confirmation email from him to ensure that he was really giving us this opportunity.
The Associate Dean's Development Fund, the Communications Department, and Education for Life were kind enough to back Margaret on our endeavor. They funded our travels, our housing, and our conference ticket at the student ticket price - which was significantly cheaper than any other admission price. I vividly remember yelling like a 10-year-old at a One Direction concert when I got off the phone with Margaret as we both read the email sporadically out loud to one another. We got this email less than a week before the conference. And on the to-do list was: book a flight across the country and find a room to stay in for five nights.
West Side of Things
It took two flights and a 4-hour layover in Dallas to get to San Diego. Margaret and I found the cheapest round tickets possible and booked what we could to get there, even if it meant leaving at an ungodly hour to get to the airport, having an extra day before the conference, and ending up with a 7-hour layover in Las Vegas on the way back home.
We got to San Diego in the late afternoon, ran to a CVS to get some toiletries we could throw away by the end of the week, and slept off our exhaustion.
The following morning we decided to get up early (which came naturally with the wonderful time difference) and explore what we could of San Diego while we were here. In one day we hit: Coronado, The Hotel Del Coronado, Balboa Park, Museum of Photographic Art, Cafe Coyote, Old Town, The Whaley House, La Jolla, visited some sea lions, Belmont Park, Mission Beach, Sunset Cliffs, and *deep breath* In-N-Out. We took a combined 1,800 photographs that one day and spammed our Instagram followers with multiple posts a day of the beauty of the West Coast.
Spending some time in Ubers going from one place to another, we were able to speak with a handful of locals that thoroughly enjoyed talking about San Diego and the people that inhabit it. One thing that was said the most about a San Diegan is that the conversation starter with anyone is "how are you doing" - as a genuine question, opposed to asking "where are you going to college" or "what do you want to do with your life."
"The world around us is changing faster and more intensely than ever before. I think we could easily dwell on what's wrong in the world around us and feel hopeless. Or, instead, we could choose power - the power of creativity and design to make this world a better place. The power to captivate us with breathtaking color and to immerse us in the beauty of art on display…… to teach people young and old, and to raise awareness and advocate for change. To connect to the human condition halfway around the world and to move us and change our prospective and to bring surprise, joy, laughter, and to make someone remember this exact moment. This work, and all the work you do, reflects the artistry, the craft, the fashion, of people who are never satisfied with the status quo."
The opening keynote speaker Adobe CEO, Shantanu Narayen, set the bar of inspiration that rattled through me throughout the entire week, through every session, on my walks home, on my ride up the escalator. It made me ponder about how much creativity is within me and how much I want to show other people - I was literally on a creativity high. It drove me to want to execute my creative thoughts more, and to act on impulse. I felt this way especially when I heard genius creatives (as I like to call them) speak about their own work and how they believe they have impacted others with their thoughts, ideas, and passion projects. We (10,000 MAX attendees) heard from Zac Posen, Lynsey Addario(!!!!), Janet Echelman, and Quentin Tarantino on the big stage. The one speech that surprisingly stuck with me the most was Janet Echelman's, an experiential sculptor who genuinely wanted to bring comfort and a sense of place in public spaces. This particularly meant something to me as I am in the midst of completing a year-long Senior Project, a passion project that I was able to create on my own while also having it count towards course credit.
Ikigai - A Japanese concept for the reason for waking up
"Cultivate the Creative Spark" by Julieanne Kost and Chris Orwig was the first session Margaret and I attended, and it ended up being my favorite session of the entire conference. Julieanne and Chris are both photographers themselves, and I think this is why I felt myself so connected to the two of them as they were speaking about how they keep their creativity at a steady level, and not ever something that feels forced. Their session was balanced around the word ikigai, a Japanese concept for the reason to wake up. This word stuck with me as I began to think about my senior project.
Julieanne and Chris told us to create our own mission statements, ones that incorporate your own ikigai- something you live out daily, and can keep to as you work creatively throughout your life. By exploring this type of mindfulness, I kept recalling my weekly meetings with Professor Schlapbach, my mentor for that senior project I mentioned earlier. Professor Schlapbach has spent multiple meetings with me reminding me to be mindful to my surroundings before I photograph them, to meditate over the space and/or place, and to call to mind what you are photographing and the reason for the photograph before I follow through. These particular meetings came to mind when Julieanne and Chris brought up the aspect of how our passion projects will be most successful when they are woven into what we do daily. Once we break down our own personal time, straighten out our priorities, and and reduce the chaos, clutter and drama in our lives, we can access our raw creativity more easily without all of these distractions.
Being inspired by creative geniuses kickstarted my week in San Diego, is still driving me to do so today, and has helped me reflect on my own work inside and outside of the classroom. I am thrilled to be able to share more of what I learned, and images from San Diego with the Loyola community come Spring Semester.