Skill up or get left behind

Author: Paul Wyatt

Originally featured in issue 217 of Computer Arts magazine

Creative Suite is dead. Kind of. Whether its successor in the form of subscription based service Creative Cloud lives a long life remains to be seen. Adobe’s recent switch from perpetual licensing of its products to a monthly fee based system caused a furore across the web with message boards lighting up with anger and outrage, which whilst justifiable in some respects was a little unconsidered.

As creative’s our lives are all about making our thoughts appear in the real world and our toolbox for that becomes ever bigger and more exciting. The thought of paying someone a monthly fee to use this box of goodies impinges on some holier than though rule we’ve created for ourselves that never actually owning the tools to create with is inherently wrong. That could go back to that big box of crayons you had as a kid which was yours, all yours damn it and you could create anything you wanted whenever you wanted. You OWNED that box.

Paying a monthly fee and never owning the software outright does feel odd and peculiarly corporate especially to long term users but surely that’s just a problem associated with perception? It feels as if you’re paying a TV subscription or a utility bill and literally paying a monthly fee to be allowed creative access. On the plus side a monthly fee of around 45 quid is preferable than forking out a few grand for a boxed version if you haven’t got the funds to make that initial investment. Surely this gives those who want to be creative a more accessible route to doing that very thing?

But perception shifts aside what does Creative cloud mean to your average idea infused creative? Well for one Adobe obviously sees all our work and skills converging. “Limitless creativity” means All the products are there for you to use. The push towards multi-disciplinary skill sets is clear and quite realistically with so much convergence happening in the industry this is the way forward. To stay hired and inspired dabbling in a number of software packages whilst retaining a specialism in one area will pay off when it comes to finding a job in an agency or a client as a freelancer. Companies want more bang for their buck and a person who is a specialist generalist will fair better in the job market. Creative cloud will push you in that direction whether you like it or not. Everything is connected.

The free Behance pro profile connection is a nice touch. Being able to upload work directly from Photoshop and receive comments from clients directly using this is useful but Adobe advertise that they want you to share work in progress to your Behance profile. Is that something a pro designer really has a need for or even wants to do? Does everything have to be commented on by your peers? Why not just upload the final version and stand behind your design? Sharing, commenting and rating doesn’t have to be… Everywhere.

Boxed versions have meant in the past that major updates across the suite were dependant on an 18 month roll out plan. In the quest for bigger and better tools in our industry that’s too long. With Creative Cloud Adobe can be more responsive to users feedback and update the products without waiting for new launch of the suite. Certainly a plus point for users.

Still there’s that perception shift which is needed from having perpetual boxed version licenses to this paying a monthly fee for your creative tools. It’s that monthly connection which seems to upset most and that will take time to change but perceptions aside Adobe seem to have seen our futures. Specialism is dead and we have to embrace a raft of news skills to keep our selves marketable. Oh that’s harsh.

Or is it? More skills mean we can play a bigger role in projects, keep creative control, as freelancers take on bigger projects, experiment creatively and stop being a small cog in the wheel of a big project.

Well that’s the theory anyway.


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