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Creative Playgrounds

By Terri Stone

What would you do with three days (and nights) to spend on a creative project—and a room full of people playing right alongside you?

That's the premise of ADIM, which began on the Stanford University campus in the 1990s as a workshop for art directors. While it's morphed and grown since then, it's still the place to ditch client constraints and embrace new ideas, new methods, and new media. 

The other enduring element is ADIM's host, Russell Brown, principal creative director at Adobe—a title too buttoned-up for the man. Russell loves to plan each ADIM's theme (Superheroes! Secret agents! Pirates!) and, more importantly, his elaborate costumes. Attendees are also encouraged to dress according to that year's theme. (Dignity and restraint are not rewarded.)

This video captures the ADIM 2014 experience.

During the workshop's three days, attendees devote themselves to projects that begin on the computer but—and this part is central to ADIM—end with something you can hold in your hand. In 2014, it was lanterns made from wood and paper. Past projects have included kites, wine labels, silk scarves, laser-burned wine boxes, and even action figures made from 3D scans of attendees' faces. The theme for ADIM 2015 is "Shakespeare Upon the Sea."

Russell Brown@MAX will be a similar experience this fall. Like ADIM, this three-day, hands-on workshop is led by Russell and ends with something to pack in your suitcase: this year, it’s Kaiju monster designs on posters and T-shirts. Plus, you can watch the Kaiju Project, another Russell scheme, take shape. There are details on The Kaiju Project web page, or just picture people walking around in eight-foot-tall monster suits to get the general idea.

But you don't have to go to ADIM or Russell Brown@MAX to play. Sign up for classes at a local museum or guild. Investigate nearby meetups. Or gather your talented friends and make it a party!

At the 2014 ADIM, attendees' lanterns were as unique as their inspirations.