I’m still processing a bit, but I just had to get some thoughts down on my recent trip to Boulder, Co for ADIM14. Lead by Russell Brown, this event is “off the hook”, if I may quote Wacom’s Wes Maggio. I had no idea what to expect going in, and now I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to actually attend one.
ADIM is a design masterclass. That means they presume you are already proficient in the tools and techniques, but want a creative and inspirational kick to bring various elements together. And I’m telling you now – this is one power-packed event. You should certainly show up with your A game, this is by no means competitive. In fact, imagine around a hundred of the best creative digital artists in the business getting together to collaborate, compare notes, and generally just revel in sharing knowledge. There is some optional stress to get your project completed on time, but that’s nothing new for many of us. And there’s no penalty for not finishing (except you don’t get to take home your lantern).
The session that completely blew me away was Lisa Carney‘s sit-down on retouching. I’m now a fan. She burned through a lot of Photoshop information very quickly and kicked my ass. I’m going to be begging for her to contribute to my next book (if I’m lucky enough to write another).
When I showed up, I have to admit I was very intimidated. Some real rock stars attend this thing. But then you notice they’re all hanging out with everybody, setting up rooms, swapping stories, and mostly just being relaxed. After an hour or so, I got the picture; this is actually a creative retreat. This is a conference to get out of the rut of client demands and be set free on a project (or projects) to explore your own vision. There are just enough boundaries to keep you from spinning out of control, though.
Most of the time, I sat at the back of the room and watched the screens come to life. Every person had a work station, and every person was doing their own thing. That’s not to say it was like a junior college class where everyone’s checking Facebook. Far from it. This is the kind of event where people don’t take notes; they fold in what they’re hearing into what they’re doing. They’re learning by taking the bits they didn’t know (or forgot about), and carving new neural pathways right then and there. Imagine session musicians who are already seasoned pros just swapping riffs and picking up new material live on stage. It’s that fast.
And people… when they say this is a master class, believe it. Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Typekit, printing, typography, Japanese calligraphy, video, laser cutting, manual assembly, and half a dozen other elements all crammed into three days. Wow. Even the down time is usually spent trading ideas and being creative.
The social aspect is not to be ignored, either. Walk around and say hi – it’s likely you will start chatting with people whose work you’ve admired or purchased, from movies to magazines to automobiles and scientific discoveries. And everybody’s nice. Really. When you have Mylar Geisha and walking nigiri, exactly how uptight do you think people can be?