Do you ever get anxious about an email before you even open it?
I usually don’t — unless it comes from a community manager at Adobe. You know, the company that dominates all creative industries with design applications like Photoshop and Illustrator? Yes, that Adobe.
In August, I received an email from a senior community manager at Adobe inviting me to participate in a design competition at Indy’s first Creative Jam. Adobe hosts Creative Jams around the world in an effort to unite local creative communities with fun, fellowship, and insight from other artistic minds.
Never afraid of a challenge, I immediately accepted her request. I mean, this is Adobe we’re talking about here. Thankfully I was able to bring on a good friend of mine to partner with me, and together we formed Team Thunder Lizards.
Organizers provided competitors with an Auguste Rodin quote as inspiration, then turned us loose to design anything that caught our fancy. We took the prompt — “To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature” — and created To Nature, a magazine featuring stunning photos of organic beauty.
And The Winner Is …
All aspects of our design process and capabilities were put to the test during the competition. We had to collaborate and brainstorm, manage our time, and trust each others’ intuitions to produce an award-winning design in under three hours. Needless to say, it was no easy feat, but we got our finished product handed off right as the buzzer sounded.
After our time was up, each team presented its designs to the crowd. Then, everyone took to their smartphones (courtesy of Poll Everywhere) and voted for the best design. In real time, we watched as our team dominated the votes, earning us the esteemed People’s Choice title — and two beautiful glass trophies.
We also each won a free one-year subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, which is normally $50 a month. Not too shabby!
Never Stop Challenging Yourself
The week of the competition was exhausting. My schedule was bombarded with friends’ weddings, closing on my first house, hosting family from out of town, unusual busyness at work, and the competition. My confidence nearly buckled under the stress, but my excitement sneaked in and got the best of me.
I could have easily backed out or shrugged my way through the competition, but there’s no growth in remaining stagnant. Instead, I took the Creative Jam as an opportunity to push my own creative boundaries to places they had never been. It was a challenge, but it was refreshing to create something new and out of the ordinary.
I’m always up to my elbows in design projects — using Photoshop and Illustrator to make beautiful websites and graphics. (That’s what you get when you work at a digital marketing company.) You become accustomed, by practice, to staying safe with your work when you use the same tools day in and day out. That’s why the Creative Jam was a great opportunity and a new adventure to open my eyes even wider to the creative world. Not to mention, I can add “People’s Choice Award” to my growing repertoire.
It’s important to never stop challenging yourself. Your personal and professional lives both rely on work to grow, and the amount of work you’re willing to put in directly affects the amount of progress you’re going to make. It’s a tale as old as time, really, which is why I strive to always bring my A game to everything I do.
Sometimes it will seem like your hard work is going unnoticed, but I can guarantee that when the time is right, you’ll get your own People’s Choice Award.
Do you think it’s important to challenge yourself for growth? Let us know in the comments what makes you reach for first place.