Adobe Creative Residents: A Look Back at the First Two Years

By Charles Purdy

Attention, emerging creatives! Applications for 2017’s Adobe Creative Residency are being accepted until February 26—this will be the third year of our Residency program, and it’s continuing to expand: from 2015’s two residents to 2016’s four, to six available spots in 2017. Plus, 2017 is the first year that the Residency will be open to people outside the United States (this year, we’ve added Canada and Germany, and we plan to continue expanding internationally in the future).

The Adobe Creative Residency program gives talented creatives a year to work on a personal project while sharing their process and progress with the world. Adobe provides residents with a year’s compensation package, industry-leading creative tools and resources, and guidance from advisors. In return, residents share their work, inspiring other creatives—through their successes, their challenges, and their discoveries. Past residents have launched online stores, published books, spent a year reviving ghost signs through light projection, and much more during their Residency years.

One of Craig Winslow’s ghost sign re-creations, an illustration by Becky Simpson, and a still from Sara Dietschy’s Creative Spaces TV video A Helmet You Actually Want to Wear.

We are looking for people across the spectrum of creative disciplines. The applications of past residents have stood out for “showing us more than they told,” explains Libby Nicholaou, Adobe Creative Community Liason: “Since the Residency is largely a visual program, we wanted to see the kind of work future residents planned to create,” she says. “With the written portion, it helped when project descriptions were short and concise. We were also drawn to people who were already active in their creative community. People who were putting content online regularly and participating in events. The Residency is equal parts creating and sharing. Seeing evidence of how a candidate is already doing that without the Residency gives us a good indicator of what they can do during it.”

You can learn more about the 2017 application process here. But first see a sampling of what past residents have accomplished, and what they have to say about the program:


Artist, designer, and tinkerer Kelli Anderson devoted part of her residency to a new project in her series of functional paper pop-up objects: an ingenious pop-up creation called This Book is a Camera.

“Artists and designers typically embark on time-consuming, unsustainable projects, which leaves the majority of us with a double life: balancing our unpaid work with paid projects. The Adobe Creative Residency is like a magical deserted island far away from that jarring cycle. My residency afforded me the time to consider: ‘What is it that I can bring into the world that no one else will?’—and treat it like a mission. Possessing this freedom emboldened me to stop waiting for other people’s permission, approval, or support to do the work that I know I need to do. The residency only lasted a year, but this new habit will last a lifetime.—Kelli Anderson


During her residency, Becky Simpson shared insights into the publishing process, along with sketches and drafts of an in-progress illustrated book, and let us follow along as as she prepared to open her online store.

“I can't say enough good things about the Creative Residency. Whenever people ask me about it, I say, ‘Yes, it is as good as it looks. Actually, it’s even better than it looks.’ It made a huge impact in my career. It’s the reason I was able to build and launch my store Chipper Things, present to thousands of people at design conferences across the country, and meet the coolest people. I’m more confident in my work and myself because of this experience.”—Becky Simpson


Sara Dietschy—photographer, filmmaker, and YouTube star—started her very successful Creative Spaces TV series because she saw a need for inspiring, short-form content catered to creatives.

“The Creative Residency has allowed the opportunity and laid the foundation for my career as a content creator. I will be forever thankful for the freedom to just create. The progress that has been made in the past six months was only possible by devoting 100 percent of my energy to my creative projects — something that would have been impossible without the Creative Residency.”—Sara Dietschy    


Among other projects, designer and hand-letterer Christine Herrin is working on a line of stationery products meant to inspire others to document their lives in creative, meaningful ways.

“The Creative Residency has taught me to take more creative chances. I’ve said yes to opportunities the old me would’ve found scary—like public speaking and drawing on walls! It also introduced me and my work to some of my biggest design heroes, which has helped me be more confident in putting myself out there.”—Christine Herrin


Among many endeavors, illustrator Syd Weiler has made the most of her Creative Residency by working on and promoting her illustrations and animations, honing her presentation and instruction skills, and launching a Twitch channel.    

“My Creative Residency has been an adventure—a personal journey. I've learned more about myself and my capabilities during my time with Adobe than I ever would have otherwise, and because of the opportunities afforded by the Residency, I now have a clear sight of my real purpose and interests as a creator. This experience has been invaluable, and I'll appreciate being a part of it for the rest of my life.”—Syd Weiler


Craig Winslow has devoted his residency to a unique quest: bringing ghost signs back to life—though animated projections fueled by deep research and painstaking design work.  

“Working independently requires a self-driven dedication and a constant gaining of momentum. This residency has pushed my design career to its next level, giving me a massive platform to promote my work, share my process, and educate others along the way…. Asking ‘What if?’ is part of what I do, but it’s often followed by a ‘But how?’—especially if funding is needed to bring a crazier idea to life. Imagine being given all the resources you need to succeed, and along with it, support and mentorship to push push yourself.”

Is 2017 your year? Learn how you can become one of our new Adobe Creative Residents.

February 3, 2017