Destination LA – welcome back to Adobe MAX

6 minute read

Every October or November, Adobe put on the most significant show in the industry for creatives. In 2019 it returns to Los Angeles. What can designers—and Illustrator users in particular—expect from Adobe and Astute Graphics?

Astute Graphics are packing bags ready to navigate to the other side of the planet to attend MAX. With Training Manager Dave Clayton (his view of MAX here) joining me, Nicholas van der Walle (Founder), whilst we mingle amongst the vast crowds, here's a personal insight into what to expect and aim for. Whether you're a first time attendee or seasoned visitor, this is for you. Read on...

Learn from the greats

The selling point for most attendees of MAX is the presence of top-flight and varied creatives, from illustrators to photographers, directors to studio founders. 2019 is no exception with Pentagram's Paula Scher, illustrator Dan Stiles, Portland-based design personality Aaron Draplin and Adobe's very own Paul Trani. Whether headlining major presentations or hosting more intimate classes, there's truly something for everyone and at every level.

Need to create infographics for Illustrator? Buckle-up for the design ninja, a.k.a. Tony Harmer (although, even his overflow fourth session is now full). Curious about a professional vector workflow starting with an iPad? Then "Illustrator Zilla", Rob Generette III, is your font of knowledge.

Even though Adobe MAX is not cheap to attend, the quality of trainers and experts on hand is near impossible to replicate. For illustrators, only Texas' Creative South can match for sheer quality, if not quantity.

Connect with other designers

Personally, the potential to meet old friends and make new connections is worth the entry fee alone. I see MAX as the greatest networking event for creatives on the planet. The mix of specialists who present is what makes it even more interesting; vector-heads such as ourselves should never stop learning from pixel-pushers, motion-makers, lens-pointers and type-crafters.

It's often a challenge knowing whether to sacrifice a must-see session all in the name of cementing one new working relationship. Spilling out of the main halls at the end of the day to the various parties and not-to-be-missed MAX Bash only accelerates the chat and gossip!

Never fear to put yourself forward to others, making stone-cold introductions when appropriate and saying "Hi" to Dave and myself if you see us amongst the hordes.

And if you only take away one message from this... don't forget to have business cards with you! They mean more than a flash of a URL on a phone or mental note. Physically giving a convenient slip of card to jog another a memory after the event is worth every cent. I am never ceased to be amazed at how much people invest in all sorts of events only to forget their cards.

New tools for an ever-changing profession

Sneak peeks is always declared as giving attendees a unique insight into the future. Sometimes more along the lines of "smoke and mirrors" (only a handful of what's demonstrated ever makes it to the real world), it's good entertainment if nothing else. Many demonstrations, which often represent the pinnacle of years of work by small teams, are true developers and innovators who are visibly uncomfortable performing with unstable theoretical code in-front of thousands live. This makes it all the more exciting!

For 2019, Adobe is pushing their iPad and other mobile solutions more heavily than ever. Adobe has a troubled history with creative apps away from the desktop with a seemingly shifting strategy over the years. Apps have come, and more worry-some for designers investing in a new workflow, and then been unceremoniously dropped only a year or two after. So it's with bated breath we all wait for the long-discussed Photoshop for iPad and rumours of Illustrator for the iPad.

However, if you want to get your hands on something more tangible, Adobe have released Fresco in advance of MAX. With its mix of pixel and vector-based creative tools, it'll be interesting to see how this fits between Photoshop and the supposed release of Illustrator on the iPad in the coming years. It's therefore a great opportunity to get an inside line from the development teams at MAX. If they are allowed to say or have a functioning crystal ball.

Joining the release-fest

With Adobe always coinciding their many Creative Cloud releases with MAX, what is Astute Graphics planning to bring to the party?

Firstly, the most important aspect for all plugin users is to ensure the availability of compatibility updates. Each time Adobe (plus Apple and Microsoft) shift the goals, plugin developers have to invest and follow. This year is the most extreme case of breaking changes we've seen since the release of Adobe CS6 in 2011 following Catalina's release and we're ready for the next challenges!

It can't have gone unnoticed that Astute Graphics recently moved to the new Annual Service Plan (ASP). This move was not made in order to start an argument... one of the key reasons behind the switch is to allow us to deploy more tools, more frequently.

With the initial stage of transitioning to the ASP having been a great technical and sales success, it's now time to open the gates to all the pent-up developments awaiting release.

So, around MAX, we'll be starting with our brand new FindReplace plugin which has its first sneak peek below!

This release will give Illustrator users starved of more power tools to dive head-long into a whole new realm of artwork control and creative potential.

And you won't have to hold your breath long for subsequent releases. Watch this space!

If you're at MAX and see Dave or me, don't hesitate to say "Hi". It's always a pleasure to meet and catch up with customers and other professionals in the creative market. MAX 2019 should prove to be a very interesting first step in 2020.

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