Insider Tips on Applying to the Adobe Creative Residency Program
On January 7, 2019, Adobe will begin accepting applications for the Adobe Creative Residency—a program that offers talented individuals a year to work on a personal creative project while sharing their process with the community and inspiring others. Adobe provides residents with full compensation for the year, as well as tools, resources, and mentorship. (Learn more about the Adobe Creative Residency.)
Now entering its fifth year, the Creative Residency program is likely to get more applicants than ever before—so we talked to a few experts who have reviewed past applications and asked them for tips on crafting one that will get noticed. We spoke to Adobe’s Julia Tian, manager of the Creative Residency program; Khoi Vinh, principal designer for Adobe; Antionette Carroll, the founder, president, and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab and a mentor in the Creative Residency program; and a few Creative Residency alums.
1. Take your time and think your project through.
Putting together a well-thought-out proposal is a unique chance to fully expand on that passion project you’ve been pursuing in your spare time, or that interesting idea you’ve been turning over in your mind and doodling in your sketchbook. So be detailed. Tian says, “While your project may change and evolve during the residency, we want to see that you can flesh out an idea, make a plan, and execute on a project you’re passionate about. In short—we’re looking for individuals who have the potential to become successful professional creatives.”
2. Make your proposal visually interesting.
The residency is for visual creatives, so employ visual elements to communicate your concept. Consider sharing past examples of your work, visually representing the influences that have led you to your proposal, and including sketches and designs to illustrate your concept. Tian adds, “Including visuals makes it easier for us to identify your style, strengths, and visual communication skills. You may include a limited amount of imagery from other artists who have influenced you, but you must clearly credit the original creator and explain the imagery’s relevance.”
3. Highlight your individual strengths.
Why are you the right person for this project? When developing your application, think about what makes you unique and how you challenge the status quo within the creative industry. Carroll explains, “Every person is different in their perspective and thus their approach. Highlight who you are in addition to what you do. What makes you, you? What can only you do?”
Vinh agrees, saying, “I like to hear not only why a given project is interesting, but also why the prospective resident believes that no one else but them can pull it off.”
4. Think about how you can change creatives’ perspectives.
When developing your project idea, think about how you’ll inspire creatives in your field and help them grow—in terms of process, technique, audience, or knowledge. Carroll says, “The point of the Adobe Creative Residency program isn’t just to help you grow as a creative—which you will, undoubtedly—but also to help the creative industry expand and amplify.”
5. Consider how your project will appeal to people outside of your field.
Vinh says, “I’m leery of projects that are too ‘inside baseball,’ that signal things that only other creative pros would understand as being interesting. So the more potential there is for wider appeal, the more interesting the project will be to me.”
He also recommends that you consider how the media might treat your project: “This is a tricky one because it gets a little bit ahead of the proposal stage,” he says, “but I like projects where I can envision an interesting headline or trending topics or press coverage. If a project can do this, and if a prospective resident understands how to do this, then a project tends to feel much better developed.”
6. Be sure you’re introducing yourself well.
2018 Creative Resident Aaron Bernstein says, “I think it’s important to remember that, while you might be aware of your skill set and ambitions, the person reviewing your project doesn’t know anything about you. Was I thoroughly outlining every detail in my project? Was I providing enough insight on how I would bring these ideas to life? I would constantly step back and ask myself these questions and re-approach my proposal with a more objective point of view. By developing the proposal with the mindset that the reviewers knew nothing about me, I was able to provide a thorough explanation not only of my project, but also of my background and why this program made the most sense for me.
9. Let yourself dream big.
Bellamy says, “If you’re still on the fence, give yourself one to three hours of prioritized dreaming. Dream of what you could produce creatively within a year if resources, time, and money were not an issue. Then give yourself another three to five hours for refining any number of the ideas that you envisioned. Finally, examine all your notes and pick the idea that you’re most drawn too—then spend some weeks expanding on that idea…. It all starts with giving yourself uninterrupted, judgment-free dreaming time.”
9. Ask yourself how the residency will be the start of the next stage in your career.
The residency will play an important role in your development—so think about how you will use it as a launch pad to what’s next. Carroll says, “The Adobe Creative Residency will help you grow in more ways than one, so show up, show out, and be ready to grow in your creativity.”
11. Just get started!
Many of our past and current residents have spoken about feeling anxious and full of self-doubt before applying. Tian says, “They all felt that being accepted was a long shot, but they decided to go for it anyway. Push through any feelings you might be having and submit!”