The Adobe Creative Residency: A Designer’s Fairytale

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Lots of connections and weekly phone meetings

Sharing their process and chatting with Libby

Free art supplies such as paper and strings

These are the Residents’ favorite things…

Adobe is accepting applications for the 2016-2017 Creative Residency Program until February 29th. And if you were looking for a reason to apply—as if my Sound of Music rewrite wasn’t convincing enough—look no further. Becky Simpson and Kelli Anderson, Adobe’s premier residents, sat down with me to chat about their experiences over the past year.

THE BENEFITS OF BEING A CREATIVE RESIDENT

From the Residency’s website:

  • An entire year to focus on a personal creative project
  • Adobe support and expertise to help you realize your project
  • Access to Creative Cloud licenses as well as hardware needed for your project
  • Opportunities to meet and receive guidance from leading creatives
  • Access to creative events including Adobe MAX and 99U
  • Increased exposure and recognition in the creative community
  • Full salary and health benefits

Read more about the perks of being a Creative Resident from Becky and Kelli’s perspective!

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Kelli Anderson

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Becky Simpson

WHAT DID BECKY AND KELLI HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT?

Their experiences were totally unique, but each of these lovely ladies had incredible stories to tell and advice to share. All with one underlying message: The Adobe Residency is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it will change the way you work, the way you think and the way you create.

Here are just some of the highlights from our conversations.

How would you describe your experience as an Adobe resident if you could give just an overarching couple of sentences?

Becky: “It’s been great. There’s never been a moment where I’ve had any sort of doubts or any negatives. It has been above and beyond any expectations I had. I’ve grown a ton. The community at Adobe has been so generous and so supportive. I feel like I came in and I gave it one year, but I’m coming out with five years’ experience.”

Kelli: “The experience has been pretty freeing. I basically have sketchbooks and sketchbooks of ideas that I know … may never ever come to fruition. I feel like [the Residency] was a really good time to go through and review all of those ideas that otherwise would have died in a sketchbook and figure out what it is that I really want to do … It was a really good opportunity just in that philosophical sense to be like, ‘Well, who am I? What am I doing? What’s important?’”

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Becky Simpson

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Becky Simpson

How would you say participating in the program affected your creative process and your general mindset about what you do?

Becky: “I have so much more confidence in what I’m capable of. Not just in the actual work itself, but also in the importance of the work.”

Kelli: “It’s been emboldening to me! I’m fairly certain that if I believe in an idea … I can make it and make it great. And I can figure out a way to present it to people so that it makes sense to them.”

Do you think there was one aspect in particular about the program that was the most beneficial?

Becky: “There’s so much! I think that having the mix of giving me space to create and explore, with the accountability of being in the program where I’m checking in and I have certain deadlines … there’s reason to stay busy. Having that accountability has been really good.”

Kelli: “When you’re working on something that only you understand and only you know, it’s hard to take that next step and battle against all of the friction in the world to get that thing to become real. And so I think the most valuable thing was just being in touch with Libby [the Adobe Residency coordinator] every week … really brought not an oppressive level of structure, but some level of structure and expectations to very individualistic projects that would have otherwise have been really hard to get done.”


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So, I’m going to ask you to brag a little bit here: What do you feel your biggest contributions were to the creative community during your time with the Residency?

Becky: “I think I’ve always been very honest and open about my process—during my actual time with the residency [and in] what I share online or in talks or when people email me. I try to be really, really honest about it because I know that you have to ask for what you want, and I think if people are asking, then they should know in the most specific way possible. So I think it’s that. It’s making myself available to people who want to know more.”

Kelli: “I think being able to produce products that demonstrate how design can be massively surprising and even a subversive kind of experience that can change the world—I feel like that is really empowering for designers, and it often gets them to think about their work differently.

“… So I think just by doing the work, by truly believing in it and making it and representing it the best way I can … I feel like that’s been the best was I can contribute.”

Are you nervous transitioning back into the real world? Do you have a plan for how you’re going to continue moving forward from here?

Becky: “I used to be pretty nervous about it when I would think about it. But now that it’s getting closer and I have my husband’s support … [I’m realizing] I have so many relationships now with people who I’m learning from, and I feel very well connected in my industry now. I just feel like I have all the tools I need to be okay. I don’t know how smooth or how fast or how easy [the transition will be]… but I’m really not worried about it. It’s because I’m working really hard now to set myself up for success in all the different ways you measure success.

“… I just have so many resources and people to ask for when I need help that I can’t really spend my time wondering if it will work out. I just have to do it.”

Kelli: “Well, I would be [nervous]. But the Residency was so super great because it’s not self-contained. As soon as I started making the work, other people started being interested in it … I feel like I’ve started a lot of things that I really should have started a while ago and that … they will continue to bear fruit long outside of the residency.

“… The returns from this investment and from my own work are going to continue paying dividends for a long time. I don’t know if anything will ever be the same again.”

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Kelli Anderson

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Kelli Anderson

Do you have any advice for the artists and designers who are applying for the program?

Becky: “I feel that enthusiasm is really contagious. So instead of trying to cater your proposal to maybe a formula or something you think Adobe wants to see … I think the best thing is to just be so excited about who you are and what you’re working on. That speaks so much for itself.

“And just be willing to share your process with the community. If that’s something that’s important to you, then start sharing it today with or without the Residency.”

Kelli: “I think I would tell them to think very big and to not cut their dreams short. Because this is a very unusual opportunity and, not to stress anyone out or anything, it probably won’t happen again. … I think people should definitely dream big and go after the most ambitious and perfect expression of what essentially drives them and make that happen. If you’re just continuing to make the same kind of work that the market place can support or that you would be doing anyway, I don’t think you’re taking full advantage of what this program is.”

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Becky Simpson

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Becky Simpson

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Becky Simpson

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Kelli Anderson

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Kelli Anderson

It all sounds too good to be true, right? What’s the catch? Becky says there isn’t one.

“It’s really as good as it sounds. Honestly, it’s even better. I think if you’re even considering applying, you should absolutely apply. You can figure out the details later.”

To learn more about Becky and Kelli’s involvement with the Creative Residency, check out Adobe’s Inspire Blog where Libby Nicholaou shares exclusive interviews and events featuring both designers. Don’t forget to follow Becky and Kelli online to stay up to date with their latest projects.


Becky Simpson: Blog, Instagram, Twitter

Kelli Anderson: Blog, Instagram, Twitter

**All images used with permission from Kelli Anderson and Becky Simpson. Featured: Kelli’s This Book is a Camera and images from Becky’s 100 Days of Getting Started. All completed within their time as residents.


 Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 4.43.17 PMThis hypercritical little critter loves to make you second-guess yourself. It stirs up doubt. It kills your creativity. But it can be stopped. And acclaimed author Danny Gregory is here to show you how. After battling it out with his own monkey, he knows how to shut yours down. Gregory provides insight into the inner workings of your inner critic and teaches you how to put it in its place. Soon you’ll be able to silence that voice and do what you want to do—create. Now follow his lead and Shut Your Monkey. 

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