Adobe reveals Photoshop for iPad (and other goodies)

A couple months ago, some folks at Adobe admitted to some major news publications that they were working on Photoshop for iPad. Today, they formally revealed it at Adobe MAX, and The Verge got a hands-on look at the app in action.

I’m a Creative Cloud subscriber because, well, I run a design studio for a living. But Photoshop is perhaps my least important CC app. (InDesign is king, if you’re wondering — nothing else comes close.)

For somebody like me, this app is going to hit the perfect sweet spot. Everything I need to touch up photos on the go, hopefully with the same Export to Web feature that I love on the desktop.

Ironically, if you live in Photoshop (like many designers I know), then it sounds like the iPad version won’t be for you. At least, not right away. Adobe is stripping away a ton of features that will make the app less useful (keyboard shortcuts, for example).

But in the meantime, this is a pretty serious win for creative professionals on the iPad. I’m holding out for InDesign next. (But I know I’m going to have to wait for Illustrator, Premiere, and probably After Effects first.)

Some other news that will change my life in some meaningful ways:

  • Typekit is now Adobe Fonts (and every font is available for unlimited desktop syncing now!). The new website feels slower than Typekit to me, but it’s also a little less quirky, which is nice.
  • Adobe XD’s first plug-in integrations are now available, drag gestures and linked symbols (finally) are built in, and the app is getting some great Illustrator and After Effects integrations. I try XD every six months or so to see if it can release Sketch. This update could put it over the edge for me.
  • There’s a new properties panel in InDesign that looks amazing. True story: I have multiple custom views in InDesign. I switch between them based on the amount of screen real estate I have. I’m hoping this makes that process less cumbersome for me. (Plus, there’s content-aware fill, which looks very neat.)
  • PhotoShop CC finally uses the same Undo keyboard shortcuts as literally everything else on my Mac. You can also double-click to edit text instead of switching to the type tool, which should have happened many, many moons ago.

All in all, these are great updates. Congratulations to the Adobe team for making their suite of products even better, and making my job easier!

October 15 2018

How to Design a Better Portfolio

About a week ago on Twitter, I asked a poorly phrased question, which I’ll re-phrase here for clarity’s sake:

Why do designers focus on images in their portfolio’s archive, instead of properly describing their work?

This is something I’m just as guilty of as the next designer. Here’s an image of what my portfolio looked like at the time of the tweet. You can find countless other design portfolios that riff on a theme just like this.

My old portfolio, before the design changes.

My favourite portfolios are really image-heavy, and I suspect that’s true for most people. Those portfolios are so funto look at and make. But I often find myself wondering if those portfolios are effective.

If you’re a potential client, why would you click on a thumbnail image? Some designers might hope that the thumbnail tells the story of their project, but the thumbnail is inconclusive at best and misleading at its worst. It often shows off what the final result looks like, but it doesn’t share the thinking behind that visual approach.

But that’s what designers should sell. We need to sell the thought process that gets clients results, because that’s what a good designer gets paid for.

Design pricing is in a race to the bottom. Or maybe it’s already bottomed out. But I think a lot of that is because we’re showing off visuals, instead of explaining our process or discussing our results.

So I’ve made some changes to my portfolio. Now, when you visit the home page, you’ll see a list of every project I was proud to be a part of. Instead of images, each project gets a description. Some of those descriptions link to case studies, and some don’t — but the work is all present and explained.

I had a lot of fun making this. My portfolio isn’t as flashy as it was before, but I hope my portfolio will now be more effective.

September 11 2018

Portfolio update →

I’m really behind on this, because my new portfolio has been live for a couple months now, but: I have a new portfolio.

The website is new from top to bottom: new and re-written case studies, new designs, new type, new photography, new About page, a more detailed contact page, and more. (Not much more. I mean, I almost described the whole site. But the home page is new too.)

If you’re curious about my work, I’ve now got seven case studies up, with three more (!!!) in the works. I’d be honoured if you checked the website out.

One other note: my business runs on referrals. If you know anybody who has an interesting web or branding project and needs some help, I’d appreciate it if you connected us

August 3 2018

Work as a spiritual practice

Over the past couple years, I’ve tried to transform my work into a spiritual practice — not unlike Jiro. As often as I can, I spend a few minutes each morning in meditation with God. On the days I can do that, I find I’m much more at peace with my work. Inviting God into my work changes why I’m working.

I’m reminded of Colossians 3:24:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Our spiritual relationship and development is tied up in our work. Recognizing that has removed a lot of stress from me.

On the other hand, no matter how dedicated you are to your craft, rest is important:

“Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”
– Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On his deathbed, will Jiro wish he spent more time perfecting sushi? Or will he wish he spent more time with his sons?

August 1 2018

The spirit of the shokunin

The other night, my wife and I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The film is a study of Jiro Ono, the man widely considered the finest sushi chef in the world.

Jiro is a shokunin. A shokunin is a sort of artisan, a person dedicated to the improvement of their craft for the betterment of the public. As Jiro explains it in the documentary:

I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is. Even at my age, after decades of work, I don’t think I have achieved perfection. But I feel ecstatic all day… I love making sushi. That’s the spirit of the shokunin.

Of course, a shokunin doesn’t have to be a chef. A shokunin is a person wholly dedicated to his or her craft. Director and cinematographer Daniel Olivares made a short film about the shokunin at Varis Japan — craftsmen who make aerodynamic parts for high-speed vehicles.

The shokunin are fascinating because they are perfectly content with something I think many of us struggle with in the west. They dream of doing the same thing, every day, for decades. They don’t appear to have a problem with repetition. They are relentlessly hard on themselves in pursuit of the perfection of their craft.

In our culture, we struggle with the Groundhog Day of our lives: the mundanity of a day-to-day life where much of it feels the same. On the other hand, a shokunin looks for repetition. It is an opportunity to improve. Repetition is a chance to get better.

Jiro just wants the best fish to practice his craft on. He is content with that. He and many other shokunin have transformed their work into a spiritual practice.

This is a noble pursuit.

For those of us outside Silicon Valley, the push towards the “new” can be set aside. We can agree to work on perfecting what we do, and let that lead us where it will.

July 30 2018
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