Everything You Need to Know About the Adobe Creative Residency Program

October 7, 2020

So you’re ready to kick your art career up a notch? Adobe’s Creative Residency programs offer artists the ability to do just that. With mentorship, networking, and full support from Adobe, residents are empowered to pursue their passions and projects with all of the necessary resources. We’ve asked Creative Residency Senior Manager, Julia Tian, and 2020 Adobe Creative Resident, Maddy Beard, to give us the inside scoop on the programs and what it takes to be the next Adobe Creative Resident – continue reading to find out how you can get a leg up on the competition.

Interview with Julia Tian, Creative Residency Senior Manager

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Julia Tian is the manager of the Adobe Creative Residency programs, which provide creators around the world with financial support, mentorship, and career opportunities to foster professional growth. As an illustrator, she noticed that even her most talented peers floundered when not taught the essentials of creative business management. This motivated her to get a degree in business, which she now uses to help creators be self-sufficient through the Adobe Creative Residency community programs.

What is the Adobe Creative Residency and why was it created? 

The Adobe Creative Residency programs were built to provide creators with opportunities to further their careers. We currently have 2 programs: The Community Fund and The Residency. Both aim to support the development of each creator’s unique voice, career opportunities, financial stability, and, above all, community.

What is the $1M Community Fund? Are creative residencies funded by it, or is this something entirely different? 

The Community Fund offers one of two opportunities to creators: 1) to receive funding for a personal project in the form of a grant, 2) to be commissioned and paid by an Adobe team for a creative project. Both projects require creators to be transparent about their creation process with their creative communities, thus helping others learn and be inspired.

What are some of the industries/disciplines creative residents come from?

Community Fund recipients and Residents come from a wide range of disciplines. We always consider candidates who use our products across any visual discipline, with a special focus on supporting creators who are short-form online video creators, photographers/photo artists, graphic designers, illustrators, 3D artists, motion designers, and product/interface designers (UX/UI). We have sponsored creators who do light projection, photo compositing, children’s book illustration, craft-supply design, AR and voice control experience design, fine art photography, and much more.

What kinds of creative projects fit best in the creative residency?

Any that fall within the main categories above. Mainly, we are best able to support creators who use our tools heavily, since then our designers, researchers, engineers, and other creative employees are aligned to train and mentor them.

What would you say are the top 3 things Adobe looks for when choosing a Creative Resident or Community Fund recipient? 

Promising portfolio – does the creator exhibit skills that give us confidence that they can execute on a commissioned project or their own proposed project? Do they have room to grow and can identify ways that they want to grow through their work with our programs?
Consistency – does the creator have a distinct visual voice and create on a consistent cadence?
Community-mindedness – is this creator enthused about sharing their learnings with others, collaborating on projects, supporting others in their own journey, and proactive about forming relationships of mentorship or allyship? Do they have a growth mindset?

How are residents chosen? Is there a committee? If so, who’s part of that committee?

Community Fund recipients and Creative Residents are chosen by the collaborators and/or art directors that they would be working with or for, in tandem with the Creative Residency leadership team. We have made sure that our review committee consists of people with a diverse set of styles, skills, tastes, backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. Applications pass through reviews by several people to make sure their work is evaluated with as little bias as possible.

Creative Residents go through 2-3 rounds of interviews, as well. The interviews are usually conducted in their home country with 4-8 interviews occurring in the final review round.

What does Adobe ask creative residents to do in return? Or what does it mean to be a creative resident? Are they spokespeople for the program for that year?

Adobe Creative Residents are both representatives of Adobe in the community, as well as representatives of their creative communities within Adobe. One of the main goals of The Residency is to provide feedback to product and marketing teams about what the creative community needs and wants. Because of this role, they do a lot of events, live streams, host creative challenges, interviews, and much more to bolster the creative community and inform themselves about their industries, all while developing their own careers.

Besides funding, what kinds of tools and resources do the creative residents get?

The Residents receive lots of opportunities to speak, teach, and learn. They get to attend, live stream, make installations, present, be panelists, and demo at industry-specific conferences, as well as travel internationally for these and many other kinds of events. They get free lifelong Creative Cloud, some Adobe Stock images, mentorship from industry experts, and opportunities for collaboration and thought leadership.


Interview with Maddy Beard, 2020 Adobe Creative Resident


Maddy Beard is a strategic designer and current Adobe Creative Resident with a focus on UI/UX design in the wellness space. Empathy, cognitive psychology, and digital wellbeing are all driving forces behind her work.

How was the application process for you and what advice do you have to creatives interested in applying?

For the application process, what you do is pitch a passion project you’d like to work on all year long. You talk about why it’s important to you, how it will drive your career forward, and what you’ll need from Adobe to get it done. You’ll also pitch how you plan to share your process with the creative community and how it will help them. If the team likes your pitch, then you’ll have a chance to pitch it to them over an interview and talk about it more.
My advice for anyone applying would be to choose something you’re truly passionate about. The specifics of your project may change, but make sure the overall topic is something you’re excited to spend a whole year on. That’s what I did and I’m genuinely excited to wake up and work each day.

What’s your creative residency focused on?

My residency is focused on mindful design, so exploring ways to use UI/UX design to promote digital wellbeing. And I’m specifically interested in getting freelance work in the wellness-tech industry after the residency, so those are the types of projects I’m creating for my portfolio this year.

What excites you the most about UX design?

I absolutely love art and graphic design, but I think my favorite thing about UI/UX and the reason it’s my primary focus is because it allows me to design tools that people use, and not just things people look at. I also have a very practical side of me, so I love that user experience design lets me use both my creative and practical skills.

What do you have in common with your fellow creative residents?

Christina Poku, the other resident, and I are pretty different, and I love that! She’s a photographer based in London who focuses on still life photography. Her work is so stunning. But we’re both extremely passionate and dedicated to our craft. And both of our projects have ended up being very timely this year.

Besides funding, what tools and other resources has your creative residency provided you with?

So much. Mentorship, speaking opportunities, workshops, relationships, new experiences, confidence, and time. To name a few. 🙂

What’s some advice you have for young creatives starting school this remotely this semester? How can technology help them?

Try to stay social. And by that I mean, even though you might be remote, make sure you’re doing whatever you can to build relationships with your instructors and classmates and get feedback whenever possible. That’s how you’re going to grow! And use any extra time to pursue creative passions you might not otherwise pursue. Practice your drawing with Adobe Fresco & your Wacom tablet, for example! You never know where creative explorations during this time could lead you.

What’s your hope for the future of remote teaching/learning as a UX designer?

My hope is that we stay connected. I hope that remote learning doesn’t turn into all pre-recorded lectures. And that conversations and real-time critiques between students and instructors remain the norm. That’s what my design education was based off of and I truly think that’s what fueled my passion and accelerated my learning. I think it’s so important that we continue to collaborate in real time within the creative education space, especially because tech makes that so possible as long as we’re intentional about it.

For more information on the Adobe Creative Residency programs, click here.

Follow Maddy Beard on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Behance.

Also, join us on October 12 at 12:00 PM PST for our Wacom Webinar with Maddy! Register here!


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