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Adobe MAX 2017: Leaving Las Vegas (With Inspiration!)

photos by Chad Menard

In the 1995 film Leaving Las Vegas starring Nicholas Cage, a Hollywood writer travels to Las Vegas to drink himself to death after losing everything due to his alcoholism. That movie is an example of just one of the many reasons people travel to Sin City, but sometimes people go there because that is just where the latest convention they are going to for work happens to be.

While my experience was decidedly different in almost every single way than the main character of the movie, I needed a way to draw you in so I can tell you about my experience with Adobe MAX 2017 in Las Vegas, albeit without the alcoholism and Academy Award winning performances!

My first foray with Adobe MAX was in November of 2016 when the convention was held in San Diego and I knew that I just had to go back this year. From Photoshop to Adobe Experience Manager and even those annoying Adobe Acrobat Update Alerts, Adobe is the backbone of my day to day work and hobbies and is used by countless creative professionals around the world. Luminaries from differing backgrounds including Graphic Design, Photography, and Video are all there to offer unique sessions and open labs that can be taken as part of a learning track or individually. This diverse lineup provides a unique experience for each attendee and I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s offerings.

This year I attended the conference over three days from October 18-20th with my coworker and fellow Webmaster Karen Pellegrin. We decided to have as little overlap as possible when choosing sessions to come back with fresh perspectives not only for ourselves but also for our City Web Authors with whom we will share our findings in a group training on November 29th.

I chose to focus more on audience engagement and skill improvement with various software applications. Over the course of the conference I took sessions ranging from Advanced Photoshop Techniques to Integrating Accessibility into Design Processes for ADA Compliance. These were wonderful learning opportunities, but the highlight of my session work was a presentation by Charles S. Anderson who is a design hero of mine and gave a very thoughtful presentation on why design matters and how the history of this discipline informs the future.

That one hour and fifteen minutes almost single-handedly reignited my passion for what I do and made me want to come back to Denver right then and get started making the DenverGov.org website better! Thankfully I had the presence of mind to calm down and realize that I hadn’t even seen the main parts of the main Adobe MAX offerings. What the heck was I thinking? I had like a whole day left.

The highlights of every Adobe MAX conference are the keynote speakers and the Sneaks presentation which showcases software that is currently in development. This year’s main keynote was highlighted by engaging speakers including director Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man and Chef, but NOT Iron Chef), potter, designer, and author Jonathan Adler, and music producer extraordinaire Mark Ronson whom was also the main performer at the Adobe MAX Bash after party.

This years Adobe Sneaks were once again the show stopper of the conference. Like every other software company these days, Adobe is focusing on Artificial Intelligence with their AI called Adobe Sensei which powered many of their innovations. From fully mixable digital color palette to virtual reality sound localization, this presentation hosted by Kumail Nanjiani (from HBO’s Silicon Valley) showed lots of promising products coming down the Adobe Pipeline. You can view #ProjectLincoln below which is a rapid infographic generator, or see other Sneaks by visiting the Adobe MAX Sneaks 2017 Playlist.


Overall Adobe MAX 2017 was a fantastic conference and a much-needed boost to my creative instincts. The people we met, the sessions, and of course the exciting yet draining fun of Las Vegas was a perfect recipe to reinvigorate me going into 2018. Now once I can figure out this whole AI thing, maybe I can automate more of my work and focus on my true passion, which is writing blogs about conferences!