Illustration • Inspiration Holding It All Together: Balance

Adobe Acrobat Pro teams up with artist Adam J. Kurtz for a new series of printable toolkits.

My creative work is rooted in my own lived experience, using design tools to communicate the ups and downs as I figure out not just how to be a successful independent brand and studio, but a human person. Years of sharing work and process has created a larger consciousness of who I am and what I care about – the power of art to transform our own lives, the importance of acknowledging our mental health, and the value of a dumb joke (laughter is unfortunately not the best medicine but still pretty good).

A frequent theme of my books is our innate power to do what we can with the tools at our disposal. In the most basic sense, that’s paper and pencil, but for most creative professionals, it also means the Creative Cloud tools, from the software we use every day, to the mobile apps that feel like magic.

Life advice for creatives in Adam’s book Things Are What You Make of Them.

No one does just one thing anymore, regardless of our job title. Designers are illustrators, makers are brands, dogs are influencers, and I’m somehow all of these things? Except for the dog. The trouble is that as the lines continue to blur, so do the boundaries between work and life. 

My day doesn’t begin when I sit down at the computer. Some days I don’t even make it to a desk anymore, answering emails from bed before even brushing my teeth, then rushing off to do all the not-art parts of being a creative small business. I’m reviewing document edits, making endless to-do lists, even signing contracts with my fingertip on a phone.

So what do you do when you (the person) becomes you (the business) and your hobby (fun) becomes your job (fun but work) and creative colleagues blend into your friend group so that every conversation is 50% brainstorm?

Make like a PDF: Take things in, make necessary changes, and hold it all together.


In partnership with Adobe Acrobat, I’ve created three printable toolkits. These are for you, so make any customizations you like before printing them out for yourself and others.

The first kit is about balance, specifically when it comes to work and life. It’s hard to draw a firm line anyway because the creative process doesn’t turn on at 9am and turn off at 5pm. While I’m not encouraging you to unplug entirely, let’s commit to thinking a bit more about the way we define, plan, and make structure for ourselves.

What’s inside the kit:

Undated Weekly Planner: Prepare the template each week with Acrobat’s Fill & Sign tool to add dates, standing meetings, or new goals, then keep filling it out as the week progresses.

To-Do List for Now & Soon: Hop around these long and short lists so you can get it all done, but in an order that feels right (ok to skip something now if you promise to get it done later).

Support System Activity: You can’t achieve balance without a strong foundation! Take some time to think about the core strengths that make you who you are, and refer back any time you forget.

Monthly Mood Check-in: The best way to track growth is to compare against yourself, not others. This totally non-scary chart (look! smiles!) can help you check in with yourself month after month. 



For more from Adam and Adobe Document Cloud, follow @adamjk on Instagram

Adam J. Kurtz is an artist and author whose illustrative work is rooted in honesty, humor and a little darkness. His books including 1 Page at a Time have been translated into over a dozen languages worldwide.

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