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Adobe Max London ’23 – hoping creativity could be the new productivity

Adobe came to town and guess what – of course, AI was the buzzword

Adobe Max London and Adobe Firefly

A colourful future

Adobe Max rolled into London this week on a whistle-stop tour and it was buzzing with energy.

Adobe has been ahead of the curve with artificial intelligence since it launched Sensei 7 years ago. From basic beginnings, it has grown into the powerhouse it is today. But like any switched-on company, they are not resting on their laurels and are constantly bringing new products to market.

Last night in London they showcased all the might you could imagine, and it looked pretty inspiring. Whatever creative space you work in there was something for you and of course, AI was never far away from the conversation and neither was community.

Investing in the future

The word community came up not only in the context of the Adobe community – the people that create and use it every day but also in the way in which they are investing in the community too.

Behance creator and now VP of Products, Mobile and Community, Scott Belsky made mention of the fact that art and creative subjects are being show-horned into corners and wedged into the school syllabus almost as a Friday afternoon afterthought.

Certainly, UK state schools are feeling the pinch and students are being deprived of access to the creative areas of school life. This fact is reflected by the statistic that only 16% of creative professionals come from a working-class backgrounds. With 93% of the UK population attending state schools, it means more and more creative roles are being filled by the privileged minority.

This was at the heart of the Adobe Creative Residency program which is supported by London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and New York’s Museum of Modern Art which helps to give young creators access to explore their passion outside of school.

No denying

If you read me regularly, then you’ll know I have put some ink down about AI recently – I mean writing in the tech space it’s hard to avoid it and artificial intelligence was hard to ignore at Adobe Max in London last night.

With ChatGPT having hit 100 million users in only 2 months which is faster than any other consumer app, we know AI is here to stay. Right now the opportunity for creative exploration is expanding – fast and Adobe’s generative AI Firefly proves the point.

Adobe wants creators to be fairly rewarded are keen for transparency for all. They are open to the fact that Firefly has only been trained on Adobe Stock and public-domain content not personal files or from simply scraping the web. Any creators who submit content will be fairly compensated and credited to help make clear who made what and how ‘gen AI’ was used in that image’s creation – verify then trust is the way forwards.

Metadata is king for creators and with Adobe Firefly’s Content Credentials, it will mean secure metadata is encrypted for all content – audio, images or video offering fair attribution to creators & companies for their content. This should help consumers to make more informed decisions about what content to trust and use safe in the knowledge creators are being fairly rewarded meaning organisations will be able to safeguard their brands & assets.

The full circle

AI –could mean the way we learn to use apps is spun on its head.

Why is it expected that we should learn the app – Adobe’s vision is that the app will learn us from personalised suggestions based on our searches. Simply put the app should deliver what you ask for – the days of us toiling to get the app to work for us should be a thing of the past – sounds so simple…

Clearly where AI is still failing is with its lack of soul and this is true whether it be images, written word or music, but it will get better. For the time being at least, for all the advantages that AI offers it falls short with emotion. To replace graphic designers with Al, clients will need to accurately describe what they want – so breathe easy we’re safe…for now!

I’ve said before we are responsible for how AI matures – we are teaching it. AI is our pupil and we are the teacher. Are we replacing humans or unlocking uniquely human potential? Two sides of the same coin and how you answer that conundrum will give an insight into how secure you feel about the future.

You’ll be aware of the content creator economy, well Adobe is convinced that growth in a new economy is just around the corner – the experience economy. AI is there to be played with. They were encouraging creators to find time to play with AI in their daily work life – set time aside to see what it can do for you. Play and provoke – let your mind and imagination run free. The rise of the experience economy will transform what we do with our time…we should free ourselves of the mundane and have time to create – us alongside AI. Hopefully, we’ll see creative confidence growing as we learn to embrace AI rather than fear it and keep it at arm’s length.

Rolling out

Firefly is now being integrated further into more Creative Cloud apps.

Already available in Photoshop yesterday at Max, Adobe bought it to Illustrator as they unveiled Generative Recolor (although currently only as a beta). This will speed up and personalise the creation of vector art.

You could start with a stock image, then by text input describe to Illustrator exactly what you want – more colour, vibrance, shadow, and direction of the light. If you want it to ‘pop’ then tell it so – get Illustrator to work for you! Again, it all starts with youthe creator. What you create will be individual to you and gets back to my point that you are in control.

Is the ability to tell Illustrator what you want any less creative than being able to draw it? Isn’t it just another layer of creativity to unfold?

The image at the top was created with Firefly. My input was;

“Man thinking about the future sitting in the sun with a cat”.

I played with a few options, orientations and colour hues, but broadly speaking I’d say it did a pretty decent job – certainly, it was a good starting point.

Firefly in tandem with Adobe Express – an online and mobile app that helps you create and edit graphics, PDFs, photos, and videos puts Adobe right at the front when it comes to the AI tools race for creatives.

Wrapping up

Going into the event I knew artificial intelligence and gen AI would be hot, but what I saw blew me away. The rate of development is so exhilarating.

This coming just one week after Apple’s WWDC keynote and the first sight of their Vision Pro headset only goes to my point that there is no option to stand still. The gen AI and AR wagon is rolling and its gathering pace.

These are such exciting times to be involved with the creative space with every day seeming to bring with it new boundaries to explore. Yesterday Max offered another chance to dream and explore.

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