2020 Adobe Max – The Creativity Conference: My Takeaway | lillian lee design & illustration

2020 Adobe MAX — The Creativity Conference: My Takeaway

Because of the pandemic, this year’s Adobe Max creativity conference was free and available to all.

There were so many great panels, sessions and talks which are still available and which I’m still going through. But, the sessions that I gravitated toward most focused on the creative process just because I’m in a rut at the moment.

Here are some of the key takeaways from talks by: Lauren Hom, Ava DuVernay and Awkwafina:

HomSweetHom / Lauren Hom

How to Find Your Creative Voice Without Overthinking It 

2020 Adobe Max – The Creativity Conference: My Takeaway | lillian lee design & illustration

Designer, letterer, and educator Lauren Hom shared some great suggestions on how to find your creative voice – not in some abstract way which tends to happen in talks (i.e., most say, “find your passion”…but, how exactly?). She gave some concrete examples, like check out what you’re always looking at on IG, Youtube and etc because those interests can inform your art & design…and develop your voice.

On finding your style and brand

“Overthinking is the enemy of creative flow.”

“All of your interests, and your thoughts and your experiences are the things that are gonna build up your overall creative voice.”

“Your creative voice is your garden bed.”

“I make art that my friends need to hear or I need to hear.”

Ava DuVernay

2020 Adobe Max – The Creativity Conference: My Takeaway | lillian lee design & illustration

Ava DuVernay is an inspiration in forging her own path as well as creating works and projects that support and lead the way in social justice. Her films 13th and Selma should be required viewing.

On inclusivity
“There’s a lot of performance of empathy. But until you are applying rigor to your feelings and ideas and putting structure and systems around them, then it’s a little disingenuous. We act like it’s brain surgery – like there’s panels and there’s books and there’s symposiums and there’s summits and there are specialists and there are whole departments and it’s like, really? If you’re sitting in the room and everyone looks like you, then you’re a part of the problem because you’re participating in that and allowing that to happen. It’s not earth shattering as to how we do it. Open the door and let people in. And if you’re not doing that, then why are you afraid of opening the door?”

On opportunity
“I didn’t kick down the door, I made my own door.”

On finding success later in life
“We can create spaces for ourselves and we can find our own sense of success and achievement within that.”


2020 Adobe Max – The Creativity Conference: My Takeaway | lillian lee design & illustration

She’s the Asian American representation I needed but never imagined possible. Her being her authentic self and the struggles she faced to get to where she is illustrates what’s possible as well as lessons.

On just doing it

“If you’re not putting anything out there, you’re fulfilling your own prophecy of failure.”

“Press the publish button and you’re good.”

Other talks that I found inspiring:

  • Aaron Draplin, founder of Draplin Design Co.
    I just enjoy his talks. He visited Boston a couple years back and I was able to attend his presentation at Boston University. What I’ve Learned Since March 15: Changes, Lessons, and Enlightenments showed how he’s been handling the pandemic and the kinds of projects he’s worked on to help the people around him and his community. Also, THANK YOU for the tip about unchecking the PDF compatible box when saving an illustrator document to cut down the file size.
  • Shawna X, artist and designer
    Her talk Designing the Next Generation of User Experience resonated with me especially since we share something else in common – becoming new mothers. I could totally relate to the part about coming to terms to what life was like before baby and what it is now with baby while juggling being a creative…and, figuring out your voice as life changes.
  • Kate Moross, illustrator, art director, designer and founder of Moross Studio
    Turning Your Passion into a Career with Kate Moross was a great window into the every day aspects of running a design studio – what it takes, what skills are needed to navigate not just the creative work but the business and people side as well as the sacrifices.
  • Tim Allen, vp of design at airbnb
    His presentation Design for Belonging: Beauty of Promise and Power of Delivery focused on how speech recognition isn’t quite accessible to everyone. Within this space, there are underrepresented communities who aren’t being reached. This is an issue that I hadn’t even thought of previously. It definitely opened up my eyes…and ears.

I’m looking forward to playing with Adobe After Effects and Dimension in the days to come. Until then, I’ll be checking out Adobe Fresco to see how it compares to Procreate.

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