I attend conferences for three reasons: to meet and network with like-minded people, to be inspired and, most importantly, to learn. I believe my goals are in line with most other attendees.
I attended two annual conferences in 2014 — Photoshop World (Las Vegas) and, most recently, the Adobe MAX Creativity Conference (Los Angeles). Photoshop World is produced by KelbyOne, and Adobe MAX is presented by Adobe Systems. Photoshop World caters to designers and photographers, primarily, and draws the least crowd of the two. Adobe MAX, a much larger event, offers classes that range from Photo Restoration to How To Take Your Product To Market. Typically, more than 5,000 artists, designers, video professionals, photographers, developers, educators and industry leaders attend Adobe MAX.
There, I talked with David Wadhwani, Adobe’s senior VP and digital media GM. He said MAX is where the creative community comes together to share ideas, inspiration and learn from one another.
At Adobe MAX’s three separate keynotes, attendees are treated to inspirational talks, learn of new-product releases and are entertained with previews (“Sneaks”) of future technological innovations. This year’s speakers comprised documentary filmmaker Lee Hirsch, digital artist Jason Seiler, photographer Ami Vitale, and comedian “Weird Al” Yankovic. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Premium Rush, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Mysterious Skin, etc.) hosted the Sneaks presentation.
The MAX Bash party, held on the second night, highlights the three-day conference. This year, it featured the Kings of Leon band.
I enjoy both conferences, but Adobe MAX provides me with the broadest skill-development opportunities. It offers more than 230 sessions and labs, which are taught by industry experts. You’ll find one-hour sessions for every Adobe application and skill level. Labs run 90 minutes, and every attendee is provided a PC or Mac workstation that’s preloaded with software and class files. Further, teaching assistants, during lab sessions, provide one-on-one help.
As an Adobe Community Professional, I was a teaching assistant for Adobe Evangelist Julieanne Kost. Kelby Media’s Corey Barker, and Brooks Institute of Photography faculty member and author Chris Orwig. All are known and respected Photoshop instructors
I also attended a community-leader summit where international parallel leaders met with Adobe product-development teams. We shared presentation tips and discussed the challenges of managing a local-user group. The product-development managers listened to our concerns, asked questions and allowed us to offer suggestions for future development.
The best part of the conference, sessions and summit meeting was getting to meet new people, many of whom I previously only knew (or knew of) online.
The internet is a great place to learn and meet other creative professionals, and social media makes it easy to grow a large connections network; however, it doesn’t replace personal connections. Adobe MAX provided me the opportunity to solidify many such relationships.
Adobe MAX is a first-class event. It’s also very expensive for creative attendees and, for most of us, it’s a significant investment. And, because it’s a learning and networking gig, it’s difficult to bottom line an ROI.
However, when evaluating cost, consider this: The best computer and/or printer is only as good as the creative talent that works behind it. You or your employee’s skills, creative inspiration and community network have great value. Conferences are the best way to invest and expand that value.
Adobe Systems presents significant resources in its MAX conference. Essentially, of course, such conferences heighten product use and loyalty. I asked David what Adobe hopes to achieve from such an event. He said MAX reaches its goal through its practice sessions and by providing inspiring presentations from some of the best “creative” in the world.
He also said, “It’s also a place that has surprised participants because, this year, they’ll see how the Creative Cloud is enabling a new era of innovation, not only in Adobe, but in all creative industries.”
When was the last design or creative conference you attended? Did you set goals for yourself before the event? Did you achieve those goals? Do you have design colleagues whom you’ve yet to meet in person? Adobe MAX 2015 is scheduled for October 3-7 in Los Angeles. Now is a good time to ink it into next year’s budget.
Go. Meet new people. Be inspired and learn new skills.
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