Surrendering to Adobe

On Monday I’m going to buy Adobe’s CS5.5 Master Collection. I keep teasing myself about the insanity of taking no profit for personal use so that I can send a big company serious money for software for which there are make-do Open Source alternatives. It’s not that I think Open Source should be free, as in “free lunch.” It’s more that I’d like free, as in “free speech,” to have lower financial barriers for participation, because creativity is a basic human need. We should not have to pay big bucks to express ourselves. If software is a creative tool, I want to use software that I can get into with sweat equity.

Let her Rip

In my non-virtual life I am a strong believer in hands-on art. I want pigment applied with my own hands, on paper I can texturize, tear, collage and stain with my very own fingerprints. I’ve resisted digital arts because I believe the hands-on stuff has a deeper value. I want fine art.

I resent the copied, impersonal patterns that are everywhere in graphic design, yet every day I check in with a Social Media community where my dashboard is decked out with patterns borrowed from design programs. My fingerprints seem to be there because I picked out the patterns, but it’s a surface thing in comparison to what real art can do. This is common. This is the way it is today and the way it will be more and more.

Resistance is Futile… and Fertile

It’s the same old story, “You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.”

The Industrial Revolution that gave us mass production and therefore more affordable household goods also gave us less individuality, fewer opportunities and necessities for personalization. We have more stuff and in some cases better stuff, but it is also more likely to be the same stuff everyone else has, less likely to be made with our own hands or the hands of someone we value. Even Twitter’s first website was designed around what was basically non-unique clip art – check out this Washington Post interview of graphic artist, Simon Oxley:

I joined the iStock community back in 2004, and began pumping images into the flow a year or so later — at first I was hesitant to join in the stock trade, since the image I had of stock was a little negative, believing that it motivated designers to only create gray, generic images. I soon realized that like many things in life, it is only gray and boring if you make it that way. … and there is enough space for many people to express as many emotions as they wish. iStock provides a channel for creative minds to broadcast their thoughts through and discuss the technical aspects of imagemaking, which ultimately frees people up to make whatever they wish.


Where am I going with all this and what does it have to do with Adobe? At 51, I’ve had a change of life in more ways than one. I want the industry standard tools so that I can read and work with those various file types for financial gain, but that’s not the clincher. The tipping point is a sense of creative mission. I want more ways to put creative “fingerprints” online. So what if there are fewer people who go the hands-on route. Why does that have to slow me down? Doesn’t that present an opportunity for an artist like myself, once I get around my resistance and think like an artist who is also a marketer?

Still, Adobe is expensive. I keep looking in the mirror and saying, “You’re nuts. You know that, don’t you?”

The grin remains. I like this nuts.

2 thoughts on “Surrendering to Adobe”

  1. Luckily, creativity can be applied, no matter the medium. In fact, even without artistic talent, one can get creative, and end up with amazingly beautiful and/or powerful art. I have a lot of creativity churning within me, but not so much talent within my hands to display my vision. However, with digital tools, I can take a photo, for instance, and do wild and whacky things with it, using filters and effects via an image editor. Now, of course, I tend to do so with the open source alternatives to the crazily-expensive photoshop, but that’s a matter of choice. The point is, don’t let the medium stop you from unleashing your creativity. It can be released in so many ways – old-school or new.

    1. Normally, I’d agree 100% about Open Source. There are some cool tools out there, too! Have you seen Imagebot or Inkscape? Very fun.

      Once in a while, though, someone needs me to open and edit a file made with one of the expensive tools. Gifs and photos I can deal with. Layered pdfs don’t look at all the same in Gimp. Photoshop’s stripped-down version, Photoshop Elements, can do most of what Photoshop can, but it can’t see grouped layers. Open Office’s Calc and MS Office Excel can really mess each other up. It took me a while to see that there will be more in this for me than spending money on superfluous features. Some of those features are going to be a delight to work with because of added convenience. I’m excited.

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