Illustration • Inspiration Holding It All Together: Explore

Adobe Acrobat teams up with artist Adam J. Kurtz for the second in a series of printable toolkits.

When Adobe Acrobat invited me to create a series of printable toolkits, I knew right away that they needed to be practical, process-driven, and personal. We floated ideas back and forth—What about this kind of resource? What about a template for that?—and after conversations, drafts, and plenty of emails, we landed in the perfect place. The creative process is often about that back and forth with others, and with ourselves. Drafts and sketches and trying to explain your choices, all in the service of translating what’s going on inside your brain to someone else. This step is how we arrive at our most effective, useful work.

My series of kits is about breaking down my own process into stages. First, we worked on Balance, to make space for creativity in our daily lives, to prioritize what matters, and to define the line between our professional and personal selves. It’s available here if you missed it!

So what comes after balance? For me, it’s the fun part. Call it what you want: exploration, play, doodling, or just plain “messing around” to see what feels right. It’s the part where you get to run free, following ideas and hunches, and just making whatever you want. It’s where you might try an idea and discover it doesn’t work on paper, or where an old idea from a past project gets its time to shine. Sometimes, a total mistake ends up changing the whole concept in a great way.

Most importantly (to me, anyway), there’s the emotional side of what we do. Art is often hard to define, but here’s my attempt: Feel something, then create work that evokes that emotion in others. Our creativity is a special tool for expressing ourselves, and art can be a powerful way to connect. So the exploration step isn’t just about the materials on hand; it’s also about what’s going on with you…really. Maybe you can work through it in the comfort and safety of your own creative practice.

It’s not magic, but it is magical. As creative types, we have a special power to transform our ideas, feelings, and more. Sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it’s stressful, and sometimes it all just flow so easily it’s like the work was always meant to be. You don’t know until you start digging, and that’s what this kit is all about.


This “Explore” toolkit is about taking that personal space we made in the last kit and having some fun with it. What ideas might a loose prompt lead you to? Where can that strong emotion lead you to next? 

What’s inside the kit:

Break It Down Worksheet: You’ve been holding onto a feeling but it’s time to let go. Break it down into the what and why, and then make a plan to move forward, or make it into art.


Thought-Starter Checklist: Not your usual brainstorm! This list of quick hits might trigger something new. Check off anything you connect with just to enjoy the feeling.


Big Mistake Activity: Remember when you messed up and you thought it was a big deal so you tried to fix it and then nobody noticed and it was lowkey even better? Let’s do that again.


One-Sheet Zine Template: With just six interior pages, this booklet is the perfect size for exploring an idea without a huge commitment. Created on a single sheet, it’s easy to print a bunch and distribute your work!




No matter how you create, Adobe Acrobat’s online PDF tool will help you convert to PDF for a sharable, versatile, final file. 

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 more than a dozen languages.

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