What is your title, and can you explain what your daily responsibilities are?
I’m a Tech Trainer. I teach Adobe and Microsoft products for freelance professionals and companies of all sizes. I also do instructional design work with Adobe Captivate and make eLearning storyboards and scripts for a development team I work with. My job is different every day. When you do a lot of contract consulting and training work there is a lot of prep that has to fit in between jobs. It’s an interesting mix of professional student/professional teacher. I’m lucky to have ended up in this field and to be able to run a business doing what I love. I’d be learning all the latest InDesign, Photoshop, Captivate, or Illustrator features anyway – but people pay me to do it, which is awesome!
What inspired you most to become interested in Adobe & their graphic apps? Why did you pursue this as a career?
I’m going to tackle those questions backwards 🙂
I started this career in a very roundabout way. I went to college focused on a career in Occupational Therapy; I had it all planned out. I got certified and was going to work in the field while taking courses towards my Masters Degree on weekends. Fortunately for me, life happened. I got laid off from my job working for an Easter Seals rehab department in the late-90’s. There were no local jobs in my field at that time, so the Unemployment Department suggested I take computer training classes. I have an art background so I signed up for graphic and web design classes. I fell in love with Photoshop, a brand new program called Dreamweaver…all of it.
Technical Training is an unusual job. You have to love teaching, be really tech geeky, AND love being in front of a room of strangers at the drop of a hat. The training center I was taking classes in kept an eye out for people that would fit all three criteria. I got hired right from the classroom and started working as a new trainer, learning to teach the very classes I was taking only a few months before. In about 18 months I had worked up the ranks in the company to Master Trainer. When I moved to Massachusetts in 2000, I formed my own training business and started taking contract work thru training agencies.
I find the Adobe products to be inspiring to use as a creative person, and even more inspiring to teach. My students are such bright, interesting , amazingly cool people that I miss teaching when I’m not in the classroom. I learn every time I work somewhere new, or meet a new group or person. Everyone looks at software in their own unique way. I have the benefit of getting a 3-D view on what can be done with the software by working with people from really different fields and points of view.
I spent over 10 years hanging out on the periphery of the Adobe Community. I would follow the work, blogs, books, and videos of a ton of people and lurk in the forums seeing what people were taking about. A few years ago I stared running Adobe events, some conferences, photo walks, and finally formed a user group in my area. Now I can grab coffee or a drink at conferences with some of the people I’ve recommended to my students for years; it’s wild!
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to pursuing a career in the creative fields?
Flexibility. It’s important to master your particular craft and focus, but things flex and change all the time. One of the things that will hold you back is the inability to adapt to new directions in your area of expertise. It’s important to master the in’s and out’s of physical printing processes in InDesign but now you also need to think like a web designer so you can branch into digital publishing. Newer products like Adobe Muse and Edge Animate are changing how people think of web design and making HTML 5 content. Even Photoshop has 3D and Video editing now. You don’t need to know all of it, but you do need to be able to lean new things when the demands of your field change.
With all the new updates of the Creative Cloud & Photoshop what changes do you personally feel are the most exciting or brilliant?
The Adobe Creative Cloud has made my life sooooo much easier. It was tricky to have full new releases every 18 months on a whole suite of products at once. I’d have customers having heart attacks at how far behind they suddenly were. Now, new features and updates are released in a pretty steady stream. It’s a lot easier for people to keep up and doing “catch up” training can fit into a companies training schedule in an easier and smoother way than when everything was tied to one big date. Some of my products update a bit each month, some every few months. Each quarter I’ll have big new features to play with but only 5 or 10, not 40.
I love that Behance is part of CC and that I can publish to a showcase right from some of my applications. I’ve been playing with Edge Animate a lot for some of the eLearning projects I’m on, which has been fun. Each application has exciting new features, some are practically magic. For example: Camera Shake Reduction and Perspective Warp in Photoshop. Absolute Genius!
What Adobe creatives do you follow, and why do they stand out from others in your opinion?
Hah! That’s a killer question. There are so many amazing people, I could write a tome. Let’s see… I’ve been recommending Deke McClelland, Russell Brown, and Katrin Eismann since I started teaching. The Adobe Evangelists, Rufus Deucher, Paul Trani, Jason Levine, Terry White, the list goes on…All of them are beyond talented and fantastic resources.
I was fortunate enough in the last few years to host amazing speakers from the community, like Chana Messer, Kevin Stohlmeyer, Pariah Burke, Stephen Burns, Rick Zanotti, Scott Reynolds, J Schuh, and Lee Varis. The Adobe Community has so many really helpful and talented people, like Bob Levine, Sally Cox, Mike Rankin, Jim Malloy, and the Killer InDesign Duo of David Blatner and Anne Marie Concepcion. It’s an embarrassment of riches really. I could keep going and am dreading running into a dozen others who can now say “what about me?”, but you get the idea.
What makes them all exceptional is their commitment. I have yet to meet a hardcore professional Adobe Geek who doesn’t have a deep passion about learning. They are all wonderfully generous about sharing what they know. You’re a great example of this Andrew. You are deeply involved in sharing with the community and have created an online group with how many members!?!
What social networks do you like most? Which present good examples of Photoshop and Graphics the best?
You can’t go wrong with Behance. That’s a wonderful portfolio/social media hybrid that Adobe geeks should be checking out if they’re not there already. DeviantArt is amazing, and Facebook is always good. I don’t actually use Flickr or Instagram much myself but I know others who live on them.
What is your prediction of the evolution of social networks? How do you think these networks will showcase artists and Photographers better in the future?
The creative world is incredibly connected online. Social networks are critical – we can connect, and stay connected with people all over the world and use that to go further and grow as creative people. The face to face meeting is vital but often those face-to-face connection opportunities are found primarily thru virtual means. Take the Scott Kelby Photo Walk as an example. Each year, groups all over host and run these in-person events but all the management is online. I ran one recently and discovered a whole segment of my local community that I had not met before. It was wonderful.
I think making short showcase videos is already a good idea and one that will get stronger in time. Solid still shots will always be good. As society as a whole gets more tech savvy, there will be more and more of an audience for your work, especially if you have at least a few pieces that can be seen well on any device. You can’t fit everything to all portable screens, but some of your content has to be mobile friendly at this point.
What predictions do you have for the future of the Adobe Creative Cloud & for Photoshop?
I think that software as a service is how most major software companies will run things in the future. I have a ton of old CDs in my office from decades of buying software. Now my company lives on distant networked machines. I had an accident with my laptop recently. After I got the new hard drive, I logged into Microsoft and Adobe, selected what I wanted re-installed, and walked away. After that I re-connected into Dropbox and synced all my files back. I was back up and running in less than 2 days—including the hard drive swap.
Creative Cloud lets Adobe development teams release features and new products when they are ready. Rather than waiting for a far off release date, or pushing things out the door early, now things can develop in a more natural, organic way. We will continue to see new products released and old products pulled – that is the nature of the beast. Now, however, we may see more risks taken, more cutting edge ideas tested. This means constant movement, constant growth -and creativity thrives in an environment like that.
As for Photoshop, camera shake reduction totally shook my concept of what we could expect from modern photography. For this means that more and more a photographer’s vision and experience will make the difference between a good shot and a slice of history.